“Do I have what it takes?” That’s the question that so often plagues a man. It’s been an all-out attack on the pride of men from antiquity to present day. The mission of our Men’s hike at Seacoast Church is “To ready the hearts of the men for the invasion of the Lord on the mountain.” We, men, are designed for adventure and created from the earth. So, it only makes sense that the yearning of man is satiated by nature, and in our case, on the mountain.
The Christian man has this stigma that he should mind his P’s & Q’s and be an all-around nice guy. Though Jesus has always been viewed as the ultimate “nice guy,” He often would pick a fight and go to battle against the opposing forces of the Kingdom of God.
“He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which He is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following Him on white horses.” Revelation 19:13-14 ESV
Not exactly the picture of a “nice guy.” Jesus is a warrior at the head of His army, always fighting for righteousness. One of the goals of our mountain rescue is to ignite the warrior spirit in every man so that he will lead as Jesus leads. The world has created this false picture of man that he should be ever tough and never sensitive, able to stand alone against all enemies without wavering or failing. Such a perverted view of man! Even Jesus has His army at His back! We are designed to be in community and to lean on each other and to lean on Jesus in our weaknesses. His power is made strong in our weakness! (2 Corinthians 12:9)
All that being said, the Hike Ministry at Seacoast Church has seen more than 2,000 men mount up in the Army of the Lord. We have seen marriages mended, relationships restored with sons, fathers, wives, and daughters. Generational curses have been broken and new roads forged for families to experience the joy our Father has in store for them. More than 2,000 hearts of men rescued and restored to the glory of the Creators’ intention. No man perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but all striving to be better and falling on each other to be held up by his brothers.
The Hike is a four day, three night journey into the mountains. Like minded men and well curated leaders head into the wilderness intent on rescuing the wayward hearts of men. First time hikers only get the necessary details—what to pack and how to prepare. They will not know where we are going nor how far we will be hiking. They are told, “Trust the process and trust your leaders.” Men want all the details so they can be in control of their lives. Though in Matthew 6 Jesus tells us not to be anxious about our lives or worry about tomorrow, but to put our trust in the Father. First time hikers are kept in the dark based on this teaching from Jesus.
It’s tough for most men to give up control, especially to other men they just met. I remember the first hike team that I led. The Lord showed me that giving up control allowed Him into the lives of the men on my team. Oh man did He show up, too! Stories for another time perhaps, but every time He shows up and shows up BIG! That is my prayer for every hike leader now—that they surrender control to Him. It’s awesome when it happens!
There is an amazing curriculum that’s fine-tuned by smarter men than me. It is based on John Eldredge’s book, Wild at Heart. Broadly speaking, we cover wounds that many men have and healthy ways to address them. We identify the wounds, the poser, and the lies that men accept as truth about themselves.
The lessons start two months prior to stepping onto the trail. Every two weeks we have meetings with the men. Trail etiquette and preparedness are thoroughly discussed as a whole and also in smaller teams. Lessons from the curriculum based on reading assignments from the book are taught at each meeting as well. This helps all of us get on the same page and understand the language that comes with the hike.
The pre-hike meetings are so important in creating unity among the teams. First, it allows the men to get to know who they will be hiking with and sleeping next to. Second, it bolsters confidence in the men that they do, in fact, have what it takes to do this, even if they have never so much as slept in a tent before.
Lastly, and likely most important, in these meetings we instill, “What is said on the mountain, stays on the mountain.” This is a big one! There is an understanding among all Seacoast hikers that nothing is off limits on this journey. Confession can offer sweet relief from the heavy burdens of regret and embarrassment. The men know that anything said on the mountain or even in the meetings leading up to the mountain will not be shared with any other person—not a best friend, a wife, or even a random stranger. It is a sacred thing among the hikers and a big reason the hike has been so successful.
We encourage the men to consider why they are hiking. What are their expectations from the Lord and from the hike itself? Is there some burden that you expect to be lifted? Some revelation that you are looking for? What do you expect when you step on the mountain?
Seacoast has planted this hike ministry at various churches across the United States and many among our own church campuses in South Carolina. The Hike has spearheaded flourishing men’s ministries in numerous churches. It is a high challenge with a high reward.
One reward that resonates the most is the validation of completing the adventure.
For me, every hike offers a new challenge, and I find myself asking the questions: “Do I have what it takes?” “Can I let go and let God?” “Am I physically capable to make it from one trailhead to the next?” Every hike an emphatic “Yes!” resounds in my heart and soul when I am done.
There’s a speech from the HBO series Band of Brothers that is so fitting for the Men’s hike. It is the end of WWII and the Germans have surrendered to the Americans. The German General asks permission to address his men and, this is part of what he says, “You have found in one another a bond that exists only in combat. Among brothers we have shared foxholes. Held each other in dyer moments. We have seen death and suffered together. I’m proud to have served with each and every one of you. You deserve long and happy lives of peace.”
New comradery among the men grows with every hike, unlike any I have experienced. Each man in their own way discovers they have what it takes. Our journey in the valley is no longer a lonely one. We have our band of brothers now. Our 3 am friends that will drop everything and help a brother in need. Do you have what it takes to go on such an adventure? Well, do you?