Slip Disc Ministries using frisbees to spread Good News worldwide
By David Dawson
JACKSON — Over the past year, Mark and Dottie McSwain have literally been putting a new spin on the concept of spreading the gospel.
The McSwains own and operate a ministry called “Slip Disc Ministries.” The company produces and distributes flying discs (aka frisbees) that feature a gospel message. The ministry — which is operated out of the garage of the McSwains’ home — has made an impact for Christ on a worldwide scale, with the discs being used in more than 80 countries across the globe.
“Using this frisbee breaks down barriers and makes it easy for most anyone to present the good news of Jesus,” said Mark McSwain. “It is just a fun way to engage people. Using the frisbee really does remove many of the obstacles the enemy seeks to create in our lives to rob us of sharing our faith.”
McSwain is the pastor of Ararat Baptist Church in the Huntersville community just outside of Jackson. He and his wife have been in the ministry since the early 1990s, having served at four churches in West Tennessee (Mansfield Baptist, Maple Springs Baptist, First Baptist Bemis and Ararat).
The McSwains took over the disc ministry in 2019 after purchasing the company from Jackie and Geri Gibbs, who founded Slip Disc Ministries roughly 30 years ago.
The discs are often used at VBS, youth gatherings, beach projects and other events that pertain to children and youth. However, the effectiveness of the gospel-themed frisbees is not limited to children and teenagers.
“With this ministry, we have been able to share the gospel with adults, too,” said McSwain. “Who doesn’t like to throw a frisbee?”
The discs can be purchased on the website SlipDiscMinistries.com, and there are five different gospel messages, available in 11 languages, to choose from. The discs can also be “personalized” for church events or promotions.
“We have Trunk or Treat logos, He is Risen logos, Christmas logos, our standard logo, plus we can apply a church or organization logo to personalize the frisbees,” McSwain said. “Including a frisbee in compassion ministry efforts, as gifts, sports clinics, etc. is a great way to share the gospel.”
McSwain said he believes the uniqueness of the discs is part of the appeal. He noted that while other means of sharing the Good News — such as passing out gospel fliers and pamphlets — can be effective, the frisbees eliminate some of the awkwardness that can sometimes exist in certain settings.
“Tracts are helpful tools for believers to transition an encounter into a Gospel conversation, and (the discs) are like flying tracts,” he said. “I just think it is so wonderful to think that God is using a simple frisbee, produced right here in West Tennessee, to literally spread the gospel around the world.”
While the McSwains were in the process of purchasing the ministry, they were informed that the company that had been producing the discs was discontinuing its association with Slip Disc. At that point, it appeared “the Lord might be shutting the door,” McSwain said.
Instead, God revealed a new plan.
“It turned out that it was the Lord overcoming another obstacle,” McSwain said.
For several years, the ministry’s previous owners — the Gibbs — had tried, unsuccessfully, to purchase the plastic injection mold used to make the discs from Whirley Industries Inc. The molds cost tens of thousands of dollars to develop and produce, and the McSwains feared that this signaled the end of the ministry.
But, at the last minute, something amazing happened.
“Right when we were about to pull the plug on the purchase (of the ministry), Whirley notified the Gibbs that they would indeed sell the mold to the new owners at an incredibly reduced price,” said McSwain. “This was a miracle according to Jackie. So, I contacted Falcon Plastics in Lexington, Tenn., which is about 30 minutes from Jackson, to see if they would be willing and able to use this mold to produce our discs.”
Soon after that, the purchase was finalized and the McSwains officially moved the ministry to their garage in Jackson.
“We press the logos into the discs, apply the Gospel messages, and pack the final product here in our garage in Jackson,” he said. “We like to say the Gospel is going from our garage to the world!”
McSwain noted that the company’s original owners, the Gibbs, operated out of their home, too.
“For the last several years, they had been operating the ministry from their home in Arkansas after they moved the ministry from South Carolina,” he said.
The McSwains first met the Gibbs at a Slip Disc display booth several years ago. The McSwains then began using the frisbees on mission trips and other events, and they soon developed a bond with the ministry.
Years later, in 2019, McSwain was attending Summit when he received an e-mail from Jackie Gibbs. In the e-mail, Gibbs told McSwain that he and his wife were retiring and were closing the Slip Disc ministry.
“I just felt led to immediately e-mail him back and ask if they would be interested in selling it,” McSwain said. “I didn’t want to see the ministry go away.”
Not long after that, the McSwains purchased the company.
“We want to build on the good work and tremendous foundation laid for us by the Gibbs,” he said. “And we want to expand our footprint around the world where the gospel has flown using this disc.”
McSwain noted that COVID has presented many difficult challenges for the company, but said he believes the frisbees can continue to be an effective tool for spreading the gospel.
“We believe Slip Disc Ministries will be a work we can carry into our retirement years and keep us actively and intentionally involved in missions ,” he said. “Most of all, we want to see men, women, boys and girls come to Christ.” B&R For more information and updates on the ministry,visit Slip Disc Ministries on Facebook at www.facebook.com/slipdiscministries/.