Home Small Group Leaders How to Start and Lead an Outdoor Men’s Bible Study

How to Start and Lead an Outdoor Men’s Bible Study

A man with a black Sharpie is personally greeting each person, handing him a tin coffee cup and writing the guy’s name in big bold letters on the cup. He then explains that this cup is that man’s personal cup to be used each time he attends a session. There’s a coffee mug “tree” with pegs in the corner of the room and that’s where the mugs will be placed after each session (someone will volunteer to clean the mugs each week). The tin coffee mugs basically serve as a nametag for others in the class to know that man’s name, rather than making him wear a nametag on his chest.

When the greeter with the Sharpie first gives a mug to a newcomer, he asks the newcomer if he is right handed or left handed. That makes a difference in how he is going to hold his cup. Then the greeter writes the guy’s name on the side of the cup that will be showing to others in the room. Little details like this will make a big difference in helping to remember names. In order to get each participant’s contact information, you can announce that a grand prize is going to be given away at the end of the Base Camp series and tell them what it is (a bow, a fishing rod, a gift certificate to Bass Pro, or whatever is motivational for each man to want to record and turn in his personal information). Collect these cards and place them in a wooden shotgun shell box that is part of the set.

During this time the “Nature Scenes Music Video” is playing for background ambience. It is 17 minutes long and contains various scenes of wild animals and outdoor scenery. It also includes occasional Bible verses. If Bubba feels uncomfortable, or if no one is talking to him, he can at least watch the music video. The Nature Scenes Music Video is a tool for you to use to set the tone and the mood.

The band of brothers is coached to watch for any visiting outdoorsman or even fringe members of the church who might be standing around without anyone to talk with. If they see such a person, they immediately start up a conversation. It is important to “fish” for the interest of this person and stick to it. It may be that some connections can be made between that person and someone from within the band of brothers related to this interest. When it comes time for the leader to officially begin the class (the time announced on the postcard and in the bulletin), he promptly starts with a welcome. As a small group leader, be careful at this point not to make visitors feel like visitors and members feel like members. Everyone in the room needs to be equal – just guys who have come together around a fire with a common interest.

The next step is to decide which one of the adventure episodes you want to play for that night. It is recommended that you start by advertising a six-session series. You can create your own curriculum if you wish by going to the “All Episodes” link on the Spiritual Outdoor Adventures web site. There you will find many choices that offer a variety of outdoor activities including hunting and fishing literally from around the world. You may live in an area where fishing is the primary sport. If so, pick out fishing episodes (episode descriptions and video trailers are available for every episode). If there are more than six that hook your attention, look at the episode description and video trailer for each and decide which six you want to use.

Some of these episodes include popular celebrities such as Coach Tony Dungy or a country music star. Each of these episodes comes with a Study Guide that you can download and print for every participant, if you have subscribed to the Church Plan. If you want to use a mix of fishing and hunting, and you want to use celebrities to draw the interest of the guys in your area, the following six episodes are recommended for your first series:

  • A Day with Tony Dungy (deep sea fishing with NFL Hall-of-Famer and the first African-American Coach to win a Super Bowl – Tony Dungy)
  • Pheasants of the Wing (pheasant hunting in Kansas with multiple Grammy Award-winning artist Ricky Skaggs)
  • The Great Texas Road Trip (whitetail deer hunting with outdoor legend Hank Parker)
  • Fishing With a Legend: Jimmy Houston (bass fishing with American’s Favorite Fisherman – Jimmy Houston)
  • Folsom Man (Hunting mule deer and exploring American’s greatest archeological discovery with Mountain Man Kyle Bell)
  • Green Acres Whitetail Camp (hunting whitetail deer and hogs in Mississippi with Tom Lester who played Eb on the TV series “Green Acres”)

Once you have finished the 6-week series, follow it up with a special Debut Party and show the 55-minute “Duckumentary: Talk the Talk with the Duck Commander” (starring none other than Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty).

What Do I Do at the End of the Six Weeks?

First, don’t be tied to the six-week plan. You might take 12 weeks to work though the material. You might choose to spend more time having refreshments at the beginning of each session, and do some activities or story-telling together. Then you end the session by watching an episode. The next week you repeat the process, except that you exchange the viewing of an episode with the working through the related Study Guide that goes along with the video from the previous session. It’s your call.

Whether you do the six-week or the 12-week plan, when you come to the end of the sessions, it is a good idea to have some kind of small event on a Saturday. A crucial goal is to get the guys that are in your session to host that event, or even to plan it and implement it. Each person has some type of responsibility. The list of potential activities is long, including skeet shooting, a fishing derby for kids, or even an archery bow tournament (maybe even an Archery Tag tournament which is for all ages).

The key is to do an event that involves other people so that now you’re reaching out. Think about the impact this could have on non-Christian Bubba who has been attending the class sessions. All of a sudden he’s given a responsibility along with the other guys from the class. He’s journeying with them in pilgrimage. When this happens, the odds are increasing that this guy is going to become a Christian. It’s pretty amazing to see this happen. It’s all about relationships.

As you develop these small group sessions and discover what works best for your specific situation, you will likely grow in number of attendees. There may come a time when you need to divide and conquer. If this is the case, you can duplicate what you have already done and train a second leader who in turn develops a second classroom or location. A second option is to offer the same class session on two different days and utilize the location you already have prepared. If you have a large area and want to keep everyone together no matter how big it gets, you can always do “break-out” groups for the Study Guide activity. You will need to handpick your leaders and teach them how to lead a small discussion group.

Always keep in mind that you don’t want to grow so big that you lose the ambience. Figure out what is best for your ministry and go from there. You may even want to start a class for women and let them decorate a room in the way that is best suited for ladies. Just be creative and use your own imagination. Pray for God to give you wisdom as you lead this ministry. Figure out how you can best incorporate guys into a weekly gathering where you’re weaving in the Word in a non-threatening way, starting with the interest of the individual, just as Jesus did when he said to the fisherman, “Come after me and I’ll make you fishers of men.” He did the same with the Samaritan woman at the well when he said, “I have living water.” She had come to the well to get water and she ended up being so excited about Jesus that she left her water jar at the well! Jesus was a master teacher at starting with the interest of the individual, and working from there to reveal who He is. You can do the same with your small group Bible study.

If you have any questions, feel free to call us on our toll-free number at 1-888-SOA-WORD. If you want to do a test run, or are ready to subscribe, simply go to www.SpiritualOutdoorAdventures.org and follow the prompts. It is our prayer that this curriculum series will be a blessing for you, and that it will be very effective at helping you not only edify and grow the members of your church, but also reach out and bring non-Christians into the church.

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Jimmy Sites follows both the call of the Lord and the call of the wild. He holds the Doctor of Ministry degree from Abilene Christian University and has pastored churches for many years from small to mega-church. He was named "American Outdoor Sportsman of the Year" by the Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame in 2014, and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018. Jimmy produces and hosts the award-winning Spiritual Outdoor Adventures with Jimmy Sites TV series that is currently entering its 20th season on national and international television.