Me, Austin, David and Loretta Carson at Augusta National
We had the privilege of attending the Tuesday practice round of the 2015 Masters tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. It was a special day that I will share more about in an upcoming post. It was our first time at “the National” as locals refer to the course. While you would not want to stretch the application too far, there are some things I think the church could learn from the way Augusta National conducts the Masters.
1. Aesthetic beauty is significant. Azaleas, pines, and lush green grass basking in the spring sun are what makes Augusta famous. It signals the end of winter for golfers all over the country and causes people to watch and attend just for the beauty. In the church, I think we can devalue the importance of beauty. The appearance of our buildings from the outside and the decor on the inside speak to the visitor. They even communicate to the members. I am not suggesting that we plant azaleas and manicure the front church lawn, but we should care about cleanliness, clutter, styles, and appearance.
2. Smiles and warm greetings make you feel welcome. We were pleasantly surprised with the amount of sincere greetings we received from workers. They were everywhere too! They had an abundance of security and staff. The staff ranged in age from young to old, but all where friendly and cordial. They were smiling and used pleasant greetings. They asked questions and gave the impression that they were thrilled to be at “the National” on this Tuesday working in a restroom or behind a cash register. They asked where you were from and if you were enjoying your experience. One older security guard, way removed from the course and the golfers next to a restroom, commented to Austin, “Smile son, you are at the National.” They were happy. What kind of impression do our members make to guests? Do they greet them with smiles and warm words. Maybe more importantly, do they give the impression that they are happy to be at church? Imagine if all of our members had such an attitude, how powerful it would be for guests coming to worship.
3. Marketing is crucial in this noisy world. Augusta is spectacularly marketed. They protect their product and advertise it well. They manage their business well and keep people interested in preserving the tradition, while excitedly waiting to see what happens next. The church cannot market in the same way as Augusta, but we must realize the importance of marketing in this world with so much noise and heavy competition for attention. We cannot sit back and expect people to come to us to receive the gospel. We must get the message out about Jesus and market our local church. Social media, traditional media, and our members offer all sorts of possibilities, but we must remember marketing is crucial!
4. Preparation and planning speak value to people. It is quickly evident when you are at Augusta that they have done this before! It is a well-oiled machine. They have all year to get ready for this one week and they use most of it in preparation. They communicate well with the patrons their expectations. They spend hours manicuring the course, and set up a large amount of seats. Everything is done top-notch. They have all the restrooms staffed to keep the bathroom lines moving. They are able to feed thousands quickly and efficiently. Traffic and parking are all thought out in detail. Preparation and planning speaks value to the customer. It says you spent time and effort to make this the best experience possible. We need to make everything we do in the church top-notch too! Our worship should be planned, and the song leader and preacher prepared. After all, we have had all week to prepare and have done worship many times before. Community events, like easter-egg hunts, trunk-or-treat, or a service projects, should be organized, planned, and prepared. Preparation and planning speaks value to those we are serving.
5. Rules are willingly followed when given with an appropriate motivation and understanding. How can you get 30 or 40 thousand (whatever the number Augusta has each day) to go without their cell phones for hours? You require that no one can bring in a cell phone in order to attend the Masters. So people leave them in the car! Augusta has all kinds of strict rules. I am not suggesting that the church should have a bunch of man-made rules regarding dress or cell-phone usages, but we understand that God does require us to change when we come to Christ. God has given his “rules” or “commandments” about holy living in the pages of Scripture. Sometimes, we often act embarrassed about God’s requirements, or try to slide them in with a “by the way” line. But rather, we should take a lesson from the Masters. When people are properly motivated, they will obey the rules joyfully and willingly. People must first understand they are saved by the abounding grace and love of God. When they are motivated through the cross of Christ, the rules are no longer a burden, but a joy (I John 5:1-4).
If you have the chance to go to Augusta National do so, it was a wonderful experience. I had a great time and i hope these observations and lessons can bless the church as we try to reach the lost with the gospel, which is way more important than any golf tournament.