Disc Golf Church


By Rev. Jeff Rogers

Chamblee First UMC is blessed with a beautiful campus. The building sits on close to 40 acres of green space where the community is able to gather. A few years ago the church added a disc golf course, and people with no connection to the church often come to play disc golf. 

We had people coming to our backyard, and we needed to find a way to reach them.

I attended a “Fresh Expressions” seminar hosted by the Conference and we were challenged to answer the question, “Where is your community’s third space?” The idea behind the third space was that there was a time people tended to gather at home, work, and church. Today, people still gather at home and work, but the third space varies.

The disc golf course at Chamblee is a "third space."

I started to wonder how we could use our current assets to reach new people. A quick Google search led me to someone who had started a “Disc Golf Church” in Minnesota. I was able to learn from the pastor of that group about his model and approach.

As springtime arrived and the weather got warmer, I began to put my plan into action. I had conversations about “Disc Golf Church” with people at church. This led to conversations with people in the disc golf community. From these conversations, I found two people that I knew could help me lead this new ministry. 

We decided on an official start date of May 6. Before we launched the new event, the three of us walked the disc golf course and prayed for the ministry. 

As I drove to the church on Sunday afternoon for the first meeting, I didn’t know if anyone would show up or if I was going to spend the afternoon playing disc golf by myself. The uncertainty felt risky, but inspiring ministry often comes when we take risks.

That first Sunday we had 16 people in attendance. Those gathered ranged in age from 7 to 70. Their skill levels spanned the spectrum -- from professional disc golfer to barely having thrown a frisbee before. We played disc golf and had a conversation about the parable of the Good Samaritan before each hole.  

I was encouraged to see the leaders’ passion for reaching new people. They were excited about connecting with this new community. I believe one of the leaders had Jesus’ call to be “fishers of men” in mind when he told me in a follow-up conversation that, “The net is out and catching already.”

Our church needed a way to reach the people who found their third space on our church campus. Disc Golf Church just might prove to be one of those ways. 

Jeff Rogers is associate pastor at Chamblee First UMC. Contact him at jeff.rogers@ngumc.net

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