Building Relationships

Q: You are using golf to build relationships! How do you build relationships so that eventually you get to the point where you can open the discussion about Christ? Does it take time, does it take the right words, does it take material, what does it take?

A: We use speakers from the marketplace to present their faith in Christ along with their story at outreach events. The role for us is a simple invite of our friends and peers. The event itself is structured to get people to think about the claims of Christ. For example, a businessman might give a talk titled, “Christ in the Workplace.” He may share how his personal relationship with Christ has affected the way he operates his business. A sports figure may tell about his sport–football stories, baseball stories, or golf stories, as well as how they came to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in the midst of their career and how things have changed.

We use these events to introduce a person to the claims of Christ and hopefully stir their thinking about such things. We also use the Round table Bible discussion groups as a follow-up on the events where we have a guided discussion format so questions can be asked, statements made and Scripture looked at and read. These groups are used to bring a clearer understanding of the things presented at the larger outreach events.

Many times we find the one-on-one relational time is what really helps one grasp and open up about spiritual things–times like having a meal together, taking in a ball game or playing a round of golf together. We call this “hang time.” What a great place to hang with people you’d like to impact and mentor–on a golf course!

Q: How does someone who has built a relationship make the transition to talking about their faith?

A: One of the most important issue is to be an interested listener. It’s easy to talk about sports, or how the stock market is doing, and these things can build rapport, but to ask probing questions and really listen can open all kinds of doors into someone’s life. You might ask about his family or his college age kids, or something along those lines. They may be successful in business at that time, but their home life might be difficult, or vice versa.

So as you listen to where their struggles are, that is the time possibly to introduce how faith may have an impact on what their struggles happen to be. Or the Scriptures might have something to say about where they are in their life. Through that, the opportunity might come to introduce them to Christ.

You take an interest in their game, but you also take an interest in their life. If you take an interest in their life, more than likely there is going to be an opportunity to bring the spiritual aspect into it. But you’ve got to be focused that way. You can’t be just thinking of yourself out on the golf course, no matter how well or how poorly you are playing.

Q: Does it take a trained expert to do this job?

A: Not at all! It takes an available person to do this. What do we talk about in life? It’s what we’re excited about. And if a person is excited about his relationship in Christ, you’ll find that he’ll share that more freely, more clearly, and probably more tactfully.

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