Could the attributes of the Christ-follower be infused into a program similar to The First Tee?
The answer is, “Yes”. Through Wally Armstrong and myself as well as a few others we have developed a similar program in order to bring kids into the game at the next level where they are introduced to real golf clubs and real golf balls as well as practicing and playing on real golf courses. Christian attributes such as “Creation, “the Fall”, “Redemption”, and “Consummation”. are introduced as curriculum learning tools similar to what The First Tee does. We are calling this program; “Growing Your Golfer Into Greatness” (GYGIG).
“The initial start of the program or curriculum for this 6 hole GYGIG will be the “Story of Glory”....
From the book, “Does God Care Who Wins?” Bob Schindler writes;
"and in bringing this up, we want us to recognize the struggle. we want to see how this “Glory” struggle is at the core of the question, at the core of all sports, really, at the core of all life. We also want us to understand this Glory struggle, because that understanding is critical to the right answer to our question of whether God cares who wins and resolving the tension.
Initially, we want to affirm that, while the struggle between the pursuit of our glory and God's glory has been there for a long time, it hasn't always been that way. To get some perspective, let me ask you, how do you view Christ followers? If you were to outline the message of Christ following, what would you say? Do you see it as a set of propositional truths as like; God loves people, or Jesus died for Sinners? Maybe a list of do's and don'ts? If that is how you view Christ Followers, we are seriously limiting the good news of the Gospel message of those who follow Christ. According to Frederick Buechner, there is no less danger and darkness in the Gospel than there is in The Brothers Grimm, but beyond and above all, there is the joy of it, this tale of a light breaking into the world that not even the darkness can overcome. That is the Gospel? This meeting of Darkness and Light in the final victory of Light. That is the fairytale of the Gospel with, of course, one crucial difference from all other fairy tales, which is that the claim made for it is that it is True, that it not only happened once upon a time but has kept on happening ever since and is happening still.
How one views this story impacts our ability to answer the question; “Does God Care Who Wins?”. When we limit the Good News, the Gospel of Christ-following, to a set of do's and don'ts, we also limit our ability to effectively answer our question. We end up with simplistic answers that don't satisfy our souls or glorify God. However, when we see the Gospel as The Story of All Stories, as the story from which all stories gain their source, we gain important keys to resolving our question in a soul satisfying and God glorifying way.
The Gospel, this story, has been referred to in different ways. Pastor Randy Pope refers to the story as the story of Glory. Others have referred to the Gospel as a story of redemption with four chapters and this is what we will focus upon; the four chapters of the story of Glory; Creation, the Fall, Redemption, and Consummation.
To gain those important Keys, let's briefly review this story.
Number One, Creation
In the beginning, in the chapter titled Creation, God made all there is from nothing. He didn't need to create because he was alone. He made all of creation out of his self giving nature. Creation was a way for God to spend himself.
All that he made was good. His authority and care spread over all of his good creation. It flourished as it was designed to flourish.
In his creating, God made people, a man and a woman. He gave them a unique role in the flourishing design for creation. God declares this role prior to his creation of them. Let us make man in our image, in our likeness. So God made man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. God intended them for Glory a greatness, a magnificent, as His Image bearers, unique among all of his creation. When he then makes them in His image, he endows them with his glory, or as the scripture States He crown him with glory and honor. At this point in the story, there is no glory Struggle. No pension. God gives glory to the people and the people go to give glory to God as they live and live out this design. Since God and thousand with his glory as His Image bearers question the people are confident and what they have been given. From this confidence, their focus is on others, not on themselves. They move toward each other to express, not establish, their Glory, this greatness God has given them, and to benefit the other and bring honor to The God Who endowed them their glory. In doing so, they flourish as image bearers for God, with all of creation responding in honor of that greatness.
Second - The Fall.
Here, the story radically changes and not for the better. In creation, God gave the man and the woman great freedom to express His Image over Creation with one exception. With only one restriction, amazingly and foolishly, they doubt his goodness and rebelled. They think it would be better to have all the glory of being his image bearers without God is there a thority, their Source, their guide. In doing so, they move away from God as they disobey the good God who had given them so much.
Great was the impact of this move. All creation was corrupted. I struggle even to put into words the greatness of that impact in a way that doesn't diminish the reality. We see this contamination all around us and within us. We live with the breadth and depth of the defilement everyday. No one escapes the desecration now resident around and within us.
Nothing was left unharmed including all people, every person. We have all been marred, defiled, broadly and deeply. One aspect of that corruption is our loss of Glory, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God “
In our rebellion and talk corruption, we are now separated from God, without the relationship we once had with him. With no source of confidence in what we have been given, we feel inadequate and wonder if we have what it takes, in Woodley knowing the truth And fearing exposure. Having left the source we need to guide our expression, we feel lost, disconnected, unaccepted, and alone. We try and fail and feel the shame of failure over and over. This move from God has cost us much, including our Glory. Because of that reality, while we may not acknowledge it, even to ourselves, we know something is not right.
From this place, we are on a search for Glory, a Relentless search to establish the glory which we were endowed with by God. Image bearers we stayed, but the image is now flawed, Mard. Our focus is turned inward toward ourselves, rather than outward toward others, as it was in the first chapter when the relationship of God gave him confidence in their Glory.
Here the struggle of Glory is now fully in place. We foolishly think to glorify God will cost us glory. We still doubt his goodness and move to make ourselves great. There is probably not a realm in life with the establishment of this loss blurry is well clearly seen then in sports. All the levels, all the awards, all the Championships are, at the core, and attempt to regain our lost Glory, To prove to ourselves and to others something about this lost greatness and honor that was ours in the first chapter.
There is a problem with these efforts, however. We long for the glory, the greatness in honor, that we were given by God in creation. This is the most “creaturely of pleasures -- nay, the specific pleasure of the inferior the pleasure of a beast before men, a child before its father, a pupil before his parent come a creature before its creator.” As CS Lewis reminds us. However, the Earthly Glory we move to establish, no matter how great, can never fill the longing for the Heavenly glory in our hearts.
We have already mentioned Tom Brady's admission of this reality. (Pg 33, “In 2005 Tom Brady said why do I have 3 Superbowl rings and still think there's something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, hey man, this is what it is. I reached my goal, my dream, my life. I think, “God it's got to be more than this.””.) For this Glory that we so passionately pursuing Sports is transitory in nature. It cannot satisfy Rd prolonging. The line is long of those who are honest and acknowledge the lack of satisfaction in this Earthly Glory.
God said it would be this way when he spoke to the man and the woman after their Rebellion. He said life without him would be a life of pain, with failure and futility as significant Parks. Life without him cannot by Design ever satisfied. God made us invented us as a band invention engine a car made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on himself. He himself is the fuel our Spirits were designed to burn, or the food our Spirits with designed to feed on. There is no other God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from himself, because cuz it is not there.
The story at this point is a tragic one. Without God, the happiness, peace, and joy of living out our Glory as image bearers is now gone. We are left searching for, longing for something we cannot find here. We would be left in the struggle of establishing our Glory our Glory versus God's glory unsatisfied in our Pursuit, without hope of ever finding resolution
God has every right to let it end this way tragically.
Again, from the book, “Does God Care Who Wins?” by Bob Schindler.
Wally Armstrong has developed the kit called SNAG or Starting New at Golf. This game or kit is the next level of golf for those who may have been introduced to the game through Go - Start - Golf, but, now with similar golf equipment, are able to hit the ball farther, play games more like the actual golf game, and compete. For instance, we use a larger area in which we set up longer holes, establish more difficult targets within the game in order to make the game even more challenging, fun and establish that next level of competition. This competition is established in the larger area like a driving range or a 6 Hole Golf Course or, even, in a park where the holes are set up similar to the golf course layout. Similar to the GSG kit a curriculum is developed where kids are playing games, competing against each other, counting the strokes made as well as the number of points they'll get from hitting targets. Again, this is a competitive environment that is fun for kids; a little bit larger or more in-depth than the GSG kit. Now we are able to draw in the next age group, drawn into the church or the community for recreation and enjoyment as well as competition so that this game can be expanded to the place of interest through those who are drawn and, remember, within Psalm 139 may even have the purpose of God placed in them to be drawn to this wonderful game that mimics life.
So how do we do that?
Again the church or a camp or some other activity that is focused upon drawing people in for Fellowship for introduction to the church and its family in order to invigorate them to be part of this community and therefore potentially drawing their families into the church or into the fellowship in order for them to be introduced to Jesus Christ, as well as, potentially, discipled through the game of SNAG which is mimicking the game of golf and life..
We have identified the introductory portion of the game of golf and, hopefully, inspired more than a few kids to continue with their golf game at the next level.
What could that next level be? Well, currently the next step would be either the First Tee program which has been established by the USGA and the Tiger Woods Foundation, etc, as well as the PGA Junior Golf Program and, even, individual lessons given to youngsters who have the capacity to improve their golf swing and become more consistent with their game.
We’ll focus here on the First Tee program because not only does the First Tee program focus upon learning the game of golf and how to compete and how to play all types of shots in the game, but, it introduces character attributes. Attributes such as honesty and fair play as well as courtesy and many others. This is very healthy, but what about the attributes of the Christ Follower? Could these attributes be infused into a program similar to The First Tee?
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Golf as Ministry - A Progression.
Imagine, if you will, a process by which we are able to use the game of golf for evangelism & discipleship for Jesus Christ from the moment a child becomes interested in the game until the moment that the golf club is laid down whether it's due to age or disinterest or …..
How can this happen?
Do we believe that this is the Lord's will?
Yes. We see it very clearly in Matthew 28 19 through 21 that the Lord calls for us to be Disciples of Jesus Christ and as we are going about our business, our lives, to make disciples. This applies, of course, to our golf lives. We are to make disciples of other golfers. We are to propagate the Gospel of Jesus Christ … “as we go”... and in every way within which we have the opportunity to fellowship. Even further, the word of God says (John 4:35) that the fields are ripe for the Harvest. This applies, I believe, to all fields, not just the fields where we’re working the harvest. In fact, it may be even more of a metaphor relative to what we’re addressing today for the golf courses or the driving ranges or the practice areas to be the fields “ripe for the Harvest”. We have individuals who are drawn to the game of golf, in fact, we have referenced in the past, Psalm 139, where the Psalmist says that from the very beginning, when we were, even, within our mother's womb, or even before that, the Lord placed his purposes in our hearts. Can this apply to the game of golf?
Of course it can!
So, this white paper refers to a process by which we believe the call for the Great Commission may be applied and processed and fulfilled in order to perform the Lord's work as he has called us to go and make disciples….
… in the golf “people group”.
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So, how can we make this happen?
Various golf-oriented Ministries have already been established in order to facilitate this vision. Look at Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Golf, www.fcagolf.org or College Golf Fellowship, www.cgf.org & Links Players International, www.linksplayers.org for golf-oriented “people groups” using the game of golf to build community & disciples. What are some of the results? Look on the Web.com Tour, the PGA Tour & Champions Tour, the LPGA & Symmetra Tours for examples of professional golfers who have been positively influenced, partly, due to the aforementioned ministries.
Can we organize & institutionalize this influence? Well, possibly, institutionalize, (as we further develop this concept), but, certainly, influence aspiring golfers from the moment they are introduced to this great game of a lifetime.
How & by whom?
Take what Wally Armstrong has done with the tool, “Go -Start - Golf” (GSG) and, formerly, “Starting New at Golf” (SNAG). These are inventions by a man who has been called and guided by God for over 50 years as his passion and his vision have been to make the game accessible to youngsters. For them to have tools and instructional packages as well as inspiration and guidance to become introduced to the game of golf as well as grow in the game for enjoyment and competition.
So, Wally, guided by God, has been in the business of inventing and developing tools for youngsters to be drawn into the game of golf. The GSG kit is a simple, easy and enjoyable way to introduce a youngster as well as adults to the game of golf with comfortable golf clubs, tennis balls and fun targets and games. Again, the idea is to make the game interesting and enjoyable, but the main purpose behind engaging with youngsters and their families is to draw them into the game that imitates life, but, with the specific focus of trying to draw them into a fellowship where they are also introduced to the Creator of all Creation, Jesus Christ.
So Go -Start - Golf is the entry level tool that Wally has recently developed in order for this to take place.
How do we Implement that?
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Wally is quite clear that this game is simple enough for even those who have never seen nor handled a golf club. The student is able to take the club and naturally swing them, hit the balls and have targets in front of them. Then, for them to play games in order to keep score and compete against each other and, in general, to just have fun. This tool is being introduced throughout the country yet the main focus for us (Golf From the Heart: Bill’s ministry) is an outreach to the churches. The implementation of the Go - Start - Golf kit with its various games is a tool for the churches to introduce the youth to the game, encourage inviting others & building relationships. This can be accomplished within the various youth groups, out in the local parks as well as recreation areas and, even, inside the church with a room large enough to set up the kit, Implement a curriculum in which kids and their friends and their adult family members are able to learn the game and, hopefully, gain a further interest in the game of golf.
This tool can also be used at camps that are drawing kids from outside of the church so that they would then build relationships with the other kids. Through these new relationships, they might, possibly, attend the youth group and, even, draw their parents in. There is a statement that is made among our circles which states; “If you get the kids, then you may get the dad. If you get the dad, then the whole family may, potentially, end up in the church.” This has proven to be true, and Go - Start - Golf is a way to draw the kids & the family in. There are many other ways to do this, even, by just conducting a regular outside program or some sort of a competition that is established between individuals and groups and churches. Again, this is a way to draw new kids and families into this game and this interaction with others so that they may be candidates for presentation of the Gospel.
What's next? The Scratch Golf Association.... (Click)
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