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FBC Jasper hosts state’s first In His Grip golf tourney; more to comecomment (0)

September 7, 2006

By Erica Harms

The sun was barely up over the dewy golf course in Dora Aug. 26, but Scott Lehman was already waiting for the carts to start arriving at hole 14.
“Hi there — thanks for coming out today,” he greets the first golfers. Lehman, president of In His Grip Golf Association, extends a gloved hand to each one, asking about his golf game and when appropriate, his life.
Dora is a long way from Moline, Ill. — Lehman’s home — but he didn’t come just for the golf. Saved at age 35 after reading a golf-themed devotional book, he knows the difference the game can make when used for Kingdom purposes.
“There are more than 30 million golfers in the United States alone. Many golf courses are packed on Sundays. The golf course provides a common ground for the church and the community to build relationships and utilize a cultural interest to share the love of Jesus Christ,” said Lehman, who played on an amateur golf tour before becoming a certified golf-teaching professional in 1998.
The tournament in Dora — an invitational put on by First Baptist Church, Jasper, in Walker Baptist Association — drew an overwhelming crowd.
“We maxed out at 30 teams with 120 golfers,” said John Jaye, associate pastor in administration and recreation at First, Jasper.
The church is Alabama’s first and one of six nationwide to partner with In His Grip to host a golf tournament this year.
First, Jasper, used the golf tournament as an Intentional Evangelism strategy, something other Alabama Baptist churches will do in 2007, said Sammy Gilbreath, director of the office of evangelism for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM). 
In fact, In His Grip is partnering with the SBOM in 2007 to host 13 golf tournaments across the state. Tentative plans are to host the first of these one-day tournaments in February.
“It is an intentional strategy to reach lost people,” Gilbreath said. “We are going to work through each local association to equip associations and churches to continue the relationships that were built with unchurched folks after the tournament is over.”
In His Grip plans to hold a training workshop for Alabama churches interested in learning more about using golf tournaments as outreach events. The workshop will be Oct. 14 at Shades Mountain Baptist Church, Vestavia Hills, in Birmingham Baptist Association.
Several interested churches also sent teams to First, Jasper, to see how it all worked. The tournament had a member-guest format, in which each golfer from the church invited an unchurched person as his playing partner. 
Signs with Scripture verses greeted the golfers at each tee. And at the tournament’s conclusion, a lunch was served during which players received awards.
Also during the lunch, Lehman shared with the group his journey of coming to know the Lord, using golf terms to show how the sport equates with the Christian life. Each participant received an autographed copy of “The Master’s Grip,” a daily devotional book with a golf theme co-authored by Lehman.
“We’re hoping that some of the men who were unchurched or lost could relate to that,” Jaye said. 
Lehman explained that the book also could be used in small-group Bible studies after the tournament was over, a good way to follow up with the men after the event.
Quoting a statistic from Promise Keepers, Lehman said, “Ninety-three percent of the time if the male in the household comes to know the Lord and gets involved in the church, the rest of the household will as well.” 
That is the very reason that Lehman is passionate about reaching men for Jesus Christ, and what better place to reach men than on the fairway, he asked.
“I have found my sweet spot in life when I have a golf club in my hands helping golfers to elevate their game of golf and life. By combining these principles, I am pointing others to something far beyond a game or pastime,” Lehman said.

For more information about In His Grip or the training event at Shades Mountain Baptist, visit www.inhisgripgolf.com or e-mail Lehman at scott_lehman@inhisgripgolf.com. For more information about using golf tournaments as an Intentional Evangelism strategy, contact Gilbreath at 1-800-264-1225, Ext. 320, or e-mail sgilbreath@alsbom.org.

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