Devotional: July 8th
I learned to play golf on a course that was fairly wide open and totally grassy. That same course is still being played although it was rerouted and changed somewhat. It is still totally grassy and pretty much devoid of bunkers. There are a few but not as many as other courses. It makes the course play relatively easily and gives the golfer a very aesthetically pleasing surrounding.
Then there's Bent Tree Golf Club, near Sunbury, Ohio. The first time I played there was the only time I played there. I felt like I was in a demilitarized zone. There were so may bunkers that on one hole I never got out of the sand all the way to the green. I pitched in from a greenside trap for a seven on the par five hole. But the course was green and lush in its appearance.
Not so some of the treasured venues of golf's hallowed history. Royal St. Georges, in Great Britain, is a prime example. It is basically a golf course that is cut right out of a goat farm of mostly rock and sand and high reeds. It is a shock for even PGA Tour players (the pros). At the British Open, contested at Royal St. George's in 2003, Kenny Perry from Franklin, Kentucky, remarked, "I thought I was on the moon. I felt like I was on another planet."
How do people feel when they visit your church for the very first time? Did they come with expectations of what they have traditionally been shown for a church in movies and on TV? Many first time attenders have no understanding of what church is all about. Most are looking for stained glass windows and a raised chancellary. Not all churches look like that. Some are fairly modern and reflect the era in which they were built.
Many people go to church for the first time expecting a "churchy" experience. The bottom line is that no matter what a church looks like it is still church. A golfer who plays a strange or different course is still playing golf and a church building, no matter how modern it might be, is still a sanctuary for the proclamation of the gospel. "Then Peter said, 'Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.' " Acts 3:6 Don't let the trappings of church cloud the fact that we are still commissioned to call people to rise and walk with the Lord.
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