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Church Leaders Need To Publicly Support Local Elected Officials

The church body, as a whole, is missing out on the powerful influence they could have on their schools, city and state when they avoid the “P” word within congregational communications: politics.

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The church body, as a whole, is missing out on the powerful influence they could have on their schools, city and state when they avoid the “P” word within congregational communications: politics. In the First Amendment, the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses were intended to keep government principalities from interfering with or coercing citizens to forgo their religious rights. It does not, however, work in reverse which has been the current narrative that has kept pastors and churches in fear of losing their tax-exempt status, or worse, being shut down.

Yes, churches should be major influencers on the government! Under the umbrella of religion, our Christian faith provides freedom to express larger than life ideas for a better future and strongly come against adversarial forces which influence our lives. This can and should include the actions of our nation’s government and local leaders. While grandiose prayers for the salvation of the country’s top leaders is an important act, don’t overlook the local players in the game. These are the folks who can activate positive change for the community more immediately than those at the national level. Depending on their ambitions, local officials can often end up in a higher position, such as governor or the United States Congress, where it can be more difficult to make a meaningful or impactful connection. This is why church leaders need to be investing in a relationship with them now.

Church leaders, especially pastors, are generally respected by the public and government leaders. By not connecting, or by remaining silent on critical issues, church leaders demonstrate an implied consent and this public latency can have unintended consequences. When elected officials don’t hear from their constituents, they assume we are happy with what they are doing and the policies they are implementing. This is especially true when they do not hear from the Christian community. This should frighten church leaders as both local influencers and wise council to their membership.

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Because all scripture is inspired by God and made useful for “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” church leaders can apply Biblical wisdom to support and inform their local elected officials on all matters of business and policy making (2nd Timothy 3:16, NIV). By reaching out to local elected officials, and those who are running for office, church members can positively influence the work they will be performing through encouraging communications, meaningful relationships and prayer.

Connect to Encourage

It may sound overly simple, but what we’d love to hear is a “thank you, good job, keep it up, and we’re standing in agreement with/in support of you.” As an elected official, I was surprised and disappointed to see that the majority of communications received from members of the community were negative in nature: complaints, fears, and even threats! When constituents come to us in a cooperative manner, we are much more receptive to their ideas. I was also perplexed in how much we were approached, rated and forced by left leaning groups to welcome their radical agendas while the church was basically silent and uninformed. This has also been my son’s experience over the years as a state legislator. The church cannot continue to remain so silent and distant.

Don’t know what to say? Reach out via social media, e-mail, or by phone and introduce yourself and your involvement in the community. The simple act of introducing yourself and encouraging your elected officials to learn more about what you do can open a line of communication and helps establish a positive working relationship. You can easily do this by attending one of their official meetings or public event. Conservative Christians have remain disempowered because too many of us do not take advantage of the opportunities to connect with those in local government.

This is where the church can help with teaching how to do this. Local officials are more accessible to meet, take to coffee or lunch, which the public rarely does. Set up an appointment just to hear their story, find out who they are, their background and why they ran for office so you can get to know them better. Without knowing a person’s background, it can be hard to understand them or connect. They will appreciate your genuine interest which will help to develop a meaningful relationship, which is key. It is appalling how people treat politicians on social media and how much information that is spread is false. Be an instrument that God uses for love and unity as this is how change happens.

Depending on the term of a position, send introductions when someone is newly elected — consider it a standard practice and keep in touch regularly, not just when there is an issue you are concerned about that comes up. Each communication should always be with genuine love and humility as the scriptures instruct.

Make it Meaningful

When communicating with your elected officials, encourage the person behind the position, not the political party they associate with. Per the definition of a public servant, elected officials are obliged to serve the needs of the community before and without regard to any personal agendas or bias they may hold or be associated with. In a similar way, don’t let party affiliations or systems limit your outreach.

One thing people don’t realize is that public servants are rightfully wary of “expert” influencers or movements who appear to rally against or strongarm an issue. In light of this, don’t let your job or service in Christian ministry inhibit the relationship. Lead communications with your heart first, not your job title. Find a common ground that doesn’t hinge on any religious affiliation until a deeper relationship has been established. The fact that your church and members live in their district gives you enough credibility and importance to be taken seriously. Then when you have established a deeper relationship the door to being heard and heeded is more easily opened.

In spite of what many media outlets tell the world, the majority of elected officials are normal people who are passionate about making the world a better place to live in and are willing to navigate the system on our behalf. Now, more than ever, they could use the extra support from the community they serve, and as leaders, it is important to set the example for your own congregation.

Pray to Protect and Uplift

Prayer is one of the easiest ways to support your local elected officials due to the indirect nature and convenience factor. With this in mind, pastoral staff and prayer ministry leaders should not discount the effect of personalized and direct prayer via phone, in writing, or in person.

Prayers in this area should be intentional and specific, considering they are openly warring over our human and civil rights in a too often corrupted field. Take a moment to research the individuals and where they stand on various issues and how they have performed in the past.

Are there proposed policy changes in review that need to be pushed through or halted by this individual? Is there an election coming up with a specific person who will need an extra measure of grace, or one who needs a broad hedge of protection? Pray for those people and proposed changes by name, if possible. A suggested prayer** for an elected official who is operating in accordance with Biblical principles:

“Father, thank you for setting into place (named individual), a person who stands and works to govern in accordance with your ways. May your wisdom be continuously revealed to them; strengthening and guiding them with truths which are unaltered or filtered by bias, emotion, or money. Help (named individual) to use discretion in all manners of their operation. In the name of Jesus, I speak against and bind any spirits of deception, selfishness, and fear. Let no weapon or scheme formed against them prevail. Convict them daily to increase their faith by seeking more of you. Show me how I can personally and specifically encourage and support them through my experience and connections. In Jesus name, amen.” *Based on Proverbs 2:6-11, Isaiah 11:12 and 54:17.

What about the individuals who are not operating in accordance with Biblical principles? First, we should not underestimate God’s ability to work with and through difficult people. He can work through imperfect people and use tension to jumpstart an entire movement!

A suggested prayer** for this elected official: “Father, thank you for (named individual). If they do not know you, draw them towards salvation in your Son, Christ Jesus. Cause them to seek answers beyond themselves, not finding themselves wise in their own eyes, but eager to learn more on (named issue) and be receptive to Biblically sound laws. Let all wicked motivations be forsaken and unrighteous thoughts be held captive. Show me how I can personally and specifically encourage and support them through my experience and connections. In Jesus name, amen.” **Based on Psalm 26:3, Proverbs 3:7, Isaiah 5:21 and 55:6-7.

In addition to the individuals signing documents, pray for the support staff that will be researching, processing, and advising on the issues. They can sometimes have more influence than the actual politician they work for. It is essential those hired are well-educated, anointed, and excellent in moral character.

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NORA ELLEN is the former Vice Mayor of Chandler, Arizona, a major City in the Phoenix Metro Valley. She is currently the host of Women Starting Over, a popular podcast with testimonies and strategies for empowering women around the world, who have experienced financial hardships. Nora is also authoring a book with the same title due out this year. Nora has enjoyed being a successful businesswoman and women’s leadership and empowerment trainer and coach. www.WomenMovingUp.com.



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