Disc Golf as Ministry
One of the joys of my current position in ministry is that I get to go disc golfing (“frisbee golfing” to the terribly unsophisticated) with members of the youth group two or three times a week. I was first introduced to the sport about eight years ago through some members of my church. I would play every couple weeks in high school, the time pressures of college and dorm ministry relegated my faithful JK Champion Valkyrie driver to the furthest reaches of my closet.
During the last few months, frisbee golf has become the main point of contact between me and the members of the youth group outside of our church setting.
Disc golf is played much like “normal” golf, except by throwing frisbees instead of hitting golf balls. Specialty discs are made for frisbee golf, with thicker rims and heavier plastics to increase distance and resistance to wind. There’s a tee box that you throw off of, and a basket that you must throw your disc into (picture below). Professional players can consistently throw discs in excess of 500 feet. We’re not exactly professionals on the Cornerstone Youth Group Disc Golf Circuit. It has been a challenge to transition out of a discipleship-heavy, relationship-driven ministry as an RA at TMC to a position that is driven by teaching and finds me spending long hours behind a desk in a solitary office. And yet, I cannot believe that teaching and relationships cannot be blended together in a church environment. Which, is probably a better situation because the people doing the teaching are also doing the discipleship. My pastor’s sermons mean more because I see the life he lives in the words he speaks. It certainly is harder to get to know people when you don’t live next door to them, but difficulty isn’t supposed to stop the growth of the kingdom of God.
The more of a friend I become to the youth, the more they will hear what I have to teach on Wednesday nights. We rarely talk about anything spiritually-oriented during our disc golf games. There’s far more taunting over bad shots and laughter over the bizarre characters we meet and talk of music and Boy Scouts and pranks I pulled at Masters than anything. And that’s a beautiful thing. Because as we laugh at how the Grim Weeper tree on hole 10 ate my drive, I know that there’s more going on than just a frustrating disc golf shot. It isn’t a waste of my time to disc golf instead of write or read. Because the gospel exists inside of life, and is meant to be experienced in everything under the sun.
1 Thessalonians 2:8 says, “Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.” That really is the impetus for interpersonal ministry. It’s about the gospel and life, because the gospel is not a stagnant, intellectual belief but a controlling manner of life. Life and words serve to feed off of one another to increase the power of both. The more I see how those who teach me live, the more I pay attention to what they have to say. And the more I hear what they have to say, the more I’m confronted with who I ought to be.