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Georgia pastors learn to live In His Grip

 

Guy Lyons/BP

Mike Arrington of LifeWay Christian Resources tees off during the Pastor’s Masters Golf Retreat while Scott Lehman, founder of In His Grip Golf Association, looks on, alongside Ron Pratt, national event planner for LifeWay Christian Resources, and Donald Minshew, senior pastor of Wellborn Baptist Church in Lake City, Fla.

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP) — Scott Lehman has always been passionate about golf, beginning at age 8 with a shortened 7-iron golf club on a backyard course marked by six buried clay flowerpots.

Later, as a golf teaching professional and sports apparel salesman, Lehman was caught up in the pursuit of wealth, travel, and hiding financial difficulties from his wife of two years, Leslie.

Leslie saw their lives drifting apart and told Lehman she couldn’t continue in the marriage. Lehman looked for answers in a shopping mall.

“There was a Christian bookstore. I had never been in a Christian bookstore before,” he said. “I turned in and found a little book called In His Grip [by Jim Sheard and Wally Armstrong]. It was a golf devotional book. I never knew they existed. I bought it, looked inside, and didn’t know that there were Scriptures in there. I asked Leslie if we had a Bible and she said ‘On the bookshelf. You will have to dust it off.’

“In golf, the most important key fundamental is the grip and how your hands are placed on the club,” Lehman said. “The book started to talk about the key fundamental in life is living a lifestyle in His grip.”

“I just knew God was calling me out,” Lehman said. A few months later, he gave his life to Christ.

 

Getting a grip

Nearly 10 years later, Lehman’s passions now include describing how Jesus Christ drastically changed his life and brought new focus into his marriage. His passion for ministry and golf merged via In His Grip Golf Association to teach churches how to use golf as an evangelistic tool for sharing the Gospel on the fairways.

Guy Lyons/BP

Scott Lehman, founder of In His Grip Golf Association, tees off at Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa in Asheville, N.C., during the ministry’s Pastor’s Masters Golf Retreat.

Bill Linduff, recreation director at First Baptist Church of Lilburn, was looking for ways to use golf as a ministry tool and heard about Lehman’s ministry last fall during an inaugural Pastor’s Masters Golf Retreat at LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center.

After going to a training session in January, Linduff and the church staff went to work on a yearly church golf event. Using the In His Grip model, Linduff said, gave the church more of an outreach focus.

“Every church can do it,” Linduff said. “We really heard Scott’s heart. If you have a golf course, this is a useful way to reach men. We want guys to come and see that they can have a great time with a bunch of ‘church’ guys.”

“A lot of men in my church play golf,” said Ken Hall, First Lilburn’s senior pastor. “It is a great way to put something that men love and evangelism together.”

Hall ventured to his second Pastor’s Masters Golf Retreat this spring, joined by Linduff.

Lehman said that last year, in what was his first year fully focused on In His Grip, six churches signed up. This year 18 more from all different denominations will host IHG Invitationals. Lehman said his vision for the next 10 years is to have 1,000 churches with In His Grip established as a golf ministry.

“Right now, the tournaments are averaging 100 guys. That would be 100,000 golfers impacted with the message of Jesus Christ,” Lehman said.

Last year, Lehman was introduced to representatives from B&H Publishing Group, the publishing arm of LifeWay Christian Resources, who were interested in producing The Golfer’s Bible (to go along with other Holman Christian Standard specialty devotional Bibles).

“My first question was, ‘Who is B&H?’” Lehman quipped. “And to see a golfer’s Bible now a year after that introduction ... it is just God pulling it together.”