Vision of ITW
We exist to show and share Jesus, make disciples, train guides & send them out to multiply guides all over the world through the outdoors.
Mission of ITW
To raise up 30 guides …
- who have been drawn into the wilderness by God in order to …
- hear His voice through divine encounters, …
- live from God’s gift of the new heart, …
- and live out their divine calling as redeemed people in community with others who in turn reach others.
The ITW mission statement informs and directs the overall vision and daily operations of the ministry. The mission statement comes from Hosea 2:14-15 and provides the framework for all that is done at ITW. We believe the mission statement is timeless and inspired by God.
Being remade into the image of Jesus
What is the goal of life? Why did Jesus have to die on the cross? Was it just to forgive our sins and take us to heaven? Absolutely not! He came to give us life by forgiving our sins and freeing us from sin’s power, but also to enter our hearts through the Holy Spirit and reform His very own image inside of us. Being a disciple of Jesus means learning to think like Jesus, feel like Jesus, live like Jesus and be motivated by the desires that motivated Jesus in all areas of life. As a result, we reflect God back to God, we reflect God to other believers as community and we reflect God to the world. (Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 3:18, 4:4, Colossians 3:5-17)
Being disciples who make disciples who make disciples who in turn form gospel communities (churches)
As we live out our identity as a disciple, we reflect God back to God, we reflect God to other believers as community and we reflect God to the world. We, therefore, intentionally and naturally make other disciples who find their identity in Jesus. These new and growing disciples live their shared lives together on mission for God’s glory as the church. As these communities grow, they naturally and intentionally multiply to form other communities or send out disciples to other contexts to continue to make disciples. (Romans 8:29, Matthew 28:19-20, 2 Timothy 2:2)
Living in gospel-centered community with the Holy Spirit as our guide
More than anything else, the gospel was meant to be lived every moment of every day by by each and every believer. The consequences of the gospel are multifaceted and, by nature, they are intensely practical. The gospel makes us one with God, grants us victory over Satan, sin and death, frees us from our slavery to idol worship and makes us a community of priests who offer our lives as living sacrifices to Jesus. It also makes us new creations with our identity based on Jesus, forgives us of all our sins so that we can forgive others and diverts God’s wrath from us. The gospel releases us from our debt to God so that we are empowered by His grace to obey Him. The gospel cleanses us from all our sin and the sin committed against us and reveals to us who God is so that we can reflect Him to the world around us. Finally, it grants us unique access to the Holy Spirit as our all-powerful guide so that we can live like Jesus (Zechariah 4:6, Romans 1:16, 1 Corinthians 15:1-5)
Taking risks because of faith in God’s power and promises
Our faith is strengthened as we risk trusting in His power and promises and we believe that He will enable us to take risks for Him and guard us as we risk for Him. In fact, true love requires risk. When we love others, we risk that they may hurt, reject, or betray us. If we desire to live out Jesus’ mission to love God and to love others, we need to risk well. (Habakkuk 2:4, 2 Corinthians 1:20, Colossians 2:12)
Living a life of repentance which leads to reconciliation with God and others
Repentance is one of the greatest gifts that God gives to His people. It begins when the Spirit convicts believers of their sin, leading them to confess their sin to God and to others. True repentance also means that we stop worshipping our false gods and functional saviors and turn to worship Jesus. This culminates in making restitution to all offended parties that which was stolen, not just property but also time, trust, etc, in order to reestablish love and trust. (John 16:8, James 5:16, Acts 17:30, Luke 19:1-10, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21)
Practicing the desires of the new heart
God has given us a new heart filled with new desires through the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration. Therefore, our new life is essentially turning our backs on our old desires in order to pursue our new God given desires of prayer, Bible reading, humility, reconciliation, following the Holy Spirit’s lead and loving God and one another from the heart. The more we pursue these deeper, truer desires of our new hearts, the less interested we will be in continuing in the desires of our flesh. ( Psalm 37:4, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:23-24, Colossians 3:9-10)
Living out God’s calling as redeemed sons and daughters from your passion, your God given gifts and talents, and your personal temperament
God came to adopt us into His family as redeemed sons and daughters so that we might live out this spiritual sonship in our calling. In particular, He redeems us by transforming our “Valley of Achor,” our sin pattern, into a door of hope for others. Finally, our calling is our inheritance, it is the place where our passion, gifts and talents, and personal temperament intersect with human need. (Hosea 2:15, Romans 8:14-17, Galatians 4:1-7, 1 Corinthians 12, 2 Timothy 1:9)
Being transformed through outdoor experiential learning
Though ideas and concepts need to be studied critically, the most important step of learning is when they are examined experientially. When a student explores an idea or concept by watching it, experiencing it and reflecting on it, the student can see the difference it makes in his or her life and how to apply it to other areas of life. When Jesus was teaching and said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). He meant that when we begin to know the truth by experience, it will free us. This is particularly true in the outdoors and the reason why all of our teaching comes during and after we experience various trials and adventures. (Exodus 6:7, John 8:32, 15:1-11, 17:3)
Fighting for the hearts of men
Though we love and want to train all people, God has burdened us with the need to build into the lives of men. All of our society’s problems stem from sin, especially the sin of omission, whereby people neglect to do what they were created to do: to love God and people. This is particularly true with men. God created Adam to take responsibility for the earth, for his family and for the world. He gave up his responsibility by saying and doing nothing while Eve was tempted by Satan and then followed her into sin. We strive to encourage, challenge and equip men to take responsibility for their lives, their families, their church, and their world. (Genesis 1-3, Exodus 15:31, Corinthians 11:7)
Building strong and authentic marriages so that in turn strong families are built.
As we fight for for one another’s hearts as men, we begin to fight for the hearts of our wives and our children. This doesn’t produce perfect marriages and families. But, as God transforms the leader of the family, he gives us strong families that are built upon the foundation of Jesus and authentic relationships that look to Jesus as their guide. (Ephesians 5:21-30, 6:4, Colossians 3:18-21, 1 Peter 3:1-7)
Core Adventure Components
The core adventure components of ITW exist to define concrete examples of how we accomplish God’s mission to us through the ministry. These adventure components are embedded in the core of our mission statement. ITW believes these adventure components show the fruit of the mission statement in the hearts of the our staff and participants.
Over 100 times in the Bible the text explicitly identifies lives being changed as a result of the 117 wilderness journeys recorded in the Old and New Testament. Abraham, Noah, Moses, Elijah, David, John the Baptizer and Jesus all spent extensive time in wilderness environments. ITW follows this biblical model. ITW offers an innovative approach to evangelism and exponential growth that draws people into a deeper knowledge of Jesus Christ. Throughout history, God has used the silence, solitude, simplicity and revelation of wilderness settings to transform lives. Participants will engage in daily “TAG” time – Time Alone with God – during which they are encouraged to journal or practice classical spiritual disciplines such as Bible study, reflection and prayer. Quad Bible studies, devotionals, and facilitated discussions are typically held in the evenings, often around a campfire. Guides can plan and guide solo experiences ranging from 2- to 96-hours. Solos can be a time of profound discernment, learning, or revelation. Guides carefully prepare participants before the solo and facilitate processing the experience immediately after it concludes. Each student is provided with shelter, a specific area to stay in and a way of contacting a guide.
Wilderness environments supply an ideal context to mature leadership skills through the sequence of education, modeling, observation, evaluation, and application. On ITW adventures, people learn to submit to leadership, develop leadership, and articulate leadership. Participants learn the core of biblical leadership while honing skills and abilities that help them serve others toward achieving common goals. ITW is strategic in developing biblical leadership skills of participants within the setting of wilderness journeys. ITW teaches leadership methods, convictions, and performance while emphasizing integrity and communication. Guides help identify the gifts, talents, temperament and potential weakness of each student and then disciple them, helping develop their God given capacity as a leader and understanding of biblical leadership principles.
During week-long adventures, participants are required to work together in teams of two as Leaders of the Day (LOD). LODs are taught how to read topographic maps and each morning prepare and present a wilderness travel plan to the rest of the quad. Wilderness travel plans include distance to be traveled, elevation gain and loss, objective hazards, water sources, as well as estimated times of departure, rest breaks, and arrival time at the next location. LODs are also responsible for shepherding people, and stewarding gifts, knowledge, and wisdom within the quad. Each LOD is coached by guides and fellow participants at the end of each day.
Cell phones, text messaging, email, social media and skype make people feel like they are connected. Yet, this connection is often shallow and clichéd, leaving most people feeling isolated and alone. While European culture promotes individualism, the triune God created people in His image so that they would live within authentic community. Most of the Apostle Paul’s commands are plural in the ancient Greek; thus, we can only obey God completely within the context of community. We mature spiritually in the setting of community, not as individuals. Furthermore, healthy leaders are made within community and lead within the setting of community. It is within community that people can serve one another, receive from one another, hold each other accountable and serve those outside of the community. Solomon rightly notes, “Iron sharpens iron.” ITW adventures provide significant opportunities to unplug from technology, let facades fall, and experience what authentic Christian community can look like. ITW guides can incorporate specific community-building or team-building experiences into any custom adventure.
Character is more than just a person’s behavior; it includes a person’s thoughts, motives, and attitudes. ITW adventures foster integration of class-room learning, spiritual growth, and leadership methods. The adventure contexts necessitate leaving one’s comfort zones, persevering in trials and overcoming challenges, self-discipline, and facing individual fears – each of which are instrumental in shaping out dependence on God, and the interdependence of the participants and their guides. Encounters with God and facing trials both individually and within community will cultivate growth in healthy relationships, trust, emotional intelligence, and personal integrity. Accountability is also central to character formation and godly leadership. Christian character is not trying really hard not to sin; rather, true character development consists of awareness and a growing genesis of God’s desires from the image of Christ within the lives of people. People with character live as examples worth following. ITW adventures build character.
ITW provides instruction including a plethora of technical skills and techniques for living in the backcountry. Depending on adventure focus and duration, participants may learn backpacking, climbing, mountaineering, Leave No Trace (LNT) principles and practices, high altitude physiology, nutrition, cooking, hygiene, and other topics. Hard skills that can be learned and practiced include backpacking, basic rock climbing craft and technique, belaying, lead and sport climbing technique, rappelling, rock anchors and hardware, crack climbing, friction climbing, self belay and self arrest with an ice axe, French snow climbing technique with crampons, snow descent techniques, roped snow travel, mountaineering, and backcountry fishing. In addition to the skills mentioned above, participants on any backpacking adventure will be taught:
- Packing their backpacks
- Food preparation and backcountry cooking using stoves and fires
- Reading maps and using a compass
- Route finding and campsite selection
- Leave No Trace principles and biblical creation stewardship