Lessons learned at the Sr PGA

I was privileged a couple of weeks ago to be able to attend a couple rounds of the 72nd Senior PGA Championship that was held here in Louisville.  I had won two tickets and was offered tickets for the other days. I only went on Thursday and Friday for the opening two rounds.

After a couple of days of reflection, here is what has been stirring inside of me that I think we as churches and youth ministries can learn from my time there.  They are in no particular order.

1. Empowering volunteers.  Thousands of volunteers from all across the region paid money to volunteer to work this event.  These volunteers attended mandatory training, took vacation from work and worked 10-12 hour days to make sure the event ran smoothly.  What I noticed the most about the volunteers is that most of them felt like they were vital to the success of the event.  They had bought into the vision and understood how vital there part was, no matter how menial or trivial in may seem to anyone else.  Our churches and ministries are full of people waiting to be a part of something they believe in and which they feel they can be a part of.  It is our responsibility to cast the vision, providing the training and then loose them to serve.

2. Importance of face time with celebrities.  While I never got to directly speak to or meet Tom Watson, Kenny Perry, Fuzzy Zoeller or any other golfer for that matter, I did get to see them and snap a few pictures of them.  For a while on Thursday afternoon I was even part of the crowd that followed Kenny around from hole to hole.  I watched people wait for hours to catch a glimpse of one of their favorite golfers to maybe catch their eye or udder a positive comment to them as they passed by.  I wonder how much of what we do leads our students to elevating Jesus to this status, where they would wait for hours to catch just a glimpse of the Spirit of God at work.  My fear is we have made it about us and our celebrity status and not about Jesus.

3. Sabbath.  I know for a lot of people two days of sitting on a camp stool watching grown men hit a little white ball would be torture.   But it had been a long time since I had had a couple of days where I had nothing to do, think through, plan, implement or oversee.  The biggest decision I had to make those two days was where the closet shelter was when the rain started.  I think I had forgotten the importance of downtime.   Summer is here in youth ministry and it is the busiest time on the calendar. Let’s not forget to make time for Sabbath.

4. Logistics-You can’t put 80,000 people through a place over 6 days without taking care of the small details.  Several times a day the website was updated.  Every morning emails were sent, facebook and twitter were updated and I knew exactly what the contingency plan for parking was for that day.   The course was spotless, people regularly came around and picked up trash, ropes were used to keep the crowd where it needed to be.  There were vehicles close to every hole to move golfers to safety in event of inclement weather or other emergency.  We may never get the opportunity to plan and organize an event of this magnitude, but we can do our part to make sure that what we have charge of is well thought out and taken care of.

5. It starts in the parking lot.  From the moment I pulled into the parking lot at Southeast Christian Church (one of the plan B parking sites) there was signage pointing me to the parking area.  There were people directing traffic all the way to my parking spot.  They were polite; they spoke to me when I passed them on the way to the shuttle bus.  I was greeted at the course by other volunteers that pointed me to the entrance; their job was to make sure my experience was the best it could be from the beginning of my experience.  I hope we do as good of a job at greeting those that come our way.

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