Gospel group drives Jesus on fairway

first_imgEric Nesbit, golf ministry director at Westshore Evangelical Free Church in Harrisburg, Pa., said they’ve had a golf ministry about a year and plan to hold their first invitational in June. The church has about 55 men in its golf league and is encouraging them to invite other men from outside the church to the invitational. Nesbit said church members heard about In His Grip and wanted to work with Lehman to start such a ministry at their church, which has about 2,500 people who regularly attend services. “Our strategy is not necessarily to have them join the church in the immediate future … but to show them a relationship, whether it’s friendship, enjoying the game of golf together in a Christian way,” he said. “If you were to play golf with me, I don’t curse or throw clubs. It’s a different way of playing golf. “We try to locate opportunities in the discussion where that (Gospel) will come up. You have to be careful. You don’t want to invite a nonbeliever and then rush right into it on the first hole. Hopefully, by them seeing how we interact with each other … will cause them to be interested and get that conversation started.” “Our vision is to reach every golfer in every nation,” Lehman said. “Right now we’re seeing a big trend of churches looking to meet people outside the four walls of the church, and this is a strategy to help them do that.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! In His Grip holds training workshops for churches and shows them how to host golf tournaments to reach out to men who aren’t active churchgoers. Sevedge, 52, attended an In His Grip tournament about three years ago in Port Byron, Ill., where he said he was impressed by the character of golfers participating in the event. He said the experience helped lead him back to attending church regularly and to becoming involved in a Bible study group. A self-employed salesman, Sevedge plays about 60 rounds of golf a year and finished with an impressive 10-handicap last year. His church, Heritage Wesleyan in Rock Island, Ill., hosted the In His Grip tournament. “I’ve always believed in Christ,” he said. “But there was a long time I fell away and wasn’t an active participant. I would go to church and go through the motions. But this sparked me to really seek out my relationship with Christ. It led me back.” Golf courses are ideal places to share the Gospel because it takes hours to play a round, and it’s easy to talk while walking along fairways and riding in golf carts, organizers say. NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It wasn’t a big tent revival, TV evangelist or personal crisis that led Russ Sevedge back to church. It was big drives and fast greens. Sevedge and other serious golfers like him are finding Jesus on the fairways because of the In His Grip Golf Association, a ministry that teaches churches how to use golf as a way to share the Gospel. Founder Scott Lehman said he got the idea for In His Grip from driving by golf courses on Sunday mornings and seeing men teeing off instead of going to church. “A lot of Sundays, you go by the golf course and they’re really packed,” Lehman said. “We felt like there was an opportunity to take our faith to the fairways and just meet them (golfers) where they’re at and introduce them to the church and ultimately to Jesus Christ.” last_img

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