During presidential election cycles, many Americans, regardless of political party affiliation, bemoan the two choices that appear on their ballots. Conversations about the national political landscape often include statements like, “Are these the best candidates America can produce?” Exhibit A is the 2012 presidential election when we saw marginal enthusiasm among the Christian community for either candidate based on policy positions.
From a purely political perspective, there is a saying: “all politics is local.” The meaning is that to win state or national elections, a candidate must have a well-organized campaign at the local level, especially in key swing regions. Most Christians who are knowledgeable in community affairs and policy issues understand that winning elections and governing well are entirely different. The conclusion is we must upgrade our civil government leaders if we expect to move from political cartels to statesmen. Bad government reproduces after its own kind, and the offspring of this can be disillusioned and disengaged people.
To chart a course forward for our nation, we present three primary points. As this is being written in the beautiful snow-covered Colorado Mountains, we’ll use the levels of ski slopes to convey how we can “go up to the mountain of The Lord” and see transformation. (Isaiah 2:3)
Green indicates the slope for beginner skiers and is therefore a beginning point. The Church’s beginning point is to have faith that America can be turned. Without faith we can’t please God or turn the nation He birthed. Hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12) and leads to hopelessness. The Body of Christ has been afflicted with the disease of hopelessness relative to America’s future and she must rekindle the gift of faith. Can America be turned? Yes, as those who carry the hope within are captivated by the Father’s heart for our great nation.
Believers must break free from the shackles of pessimism and love our homeland as Nehemiah, who when hearing the report of his land being in distress, began to pray, fast and weep before God on its behalf.
May the burden of God fall on each of us and give us a passion for our land. America’s best days are ahead! Having conquered the green slopes, let’s move to the next.
The blue slopes are for intermediate skiers and represent our next level — engaging in our communities. As we travel the nation and interact with God’s people, the strategy to transform communities is for believers to seek the welfare of their cities. The prophet Jeremiah wrote to the Jews who were exiled in Babylon and told them to get involved in the city where God had placed them. The Jewish communal caste system was violating the plan of God for His people much like today’s Christian cave dwelling. The focus on our lives, families and fellowships has isolated us while withholding the wisdom of God from the city building process. As Christians work for the good of their community, God will bless their lives, families and plans.
There is a subtle trend underway in American politics where some U.S. House members are leaving the federal government to be involved at the local level. A recent article in The Hill tells the story of Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Calif) running for a seat on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors. She states, “I just feel I can be more useful here locally. My influence will be a little bit bigger.” As one of five county supervisors representing more than 2 million people versus one of 200 Democratic leaders in the House minority, the difference is considerable (The Hill, Vol. 21 No. 21). The pattern has been for those seeking to serve in public service to use the local office as a stepping stone for the state and national. We see God at work shifting something within the civil government process that will open the doors for His people to be elected and lead their communities as statesmen. We see a growing number of cases where Godly candidates are being set into local offices having run unopposed. The Lord is giving favor through open doors, and this is what we call a divine acceleration. When the righteous lead, it will exalt a community (Proverbs 14:34). The old political order has not produced a broad enough base of Biblical thinkers who are called to serve to make a significant difference in our nation. At best, we see isolated cases where statesmen leaders are serving their committees. While we affirm nations are turned one community at a time, from a strategic viewpoint, there is certainly a pressing need for critical mass among each state of experienced servant leaders who understand they are vice-regents serving at the pleasure of God! This is an opportune moment in the Kingdom for believers to give themselves to local public service and thereby become community disciplers.
To disciple or influence a community, the Church will begin to build partnerships. Through partnering at the local level with economic development offices, businesses will prosper and the city can grow as new industry and small businesses begin. As we partner with the education system and get involved through programs such as adopt-a-school, which can bring resources ranging from prayer to mentoring, our children’s education level will increase assuring a prosperous future for the community. As believers show up in their city council meetings and build relationships with city leaders, their voice of wisdom will be heard addressing current city challenges. The Church will not turn its community from within the church building or through programs. Through building partnerships and relationships, demonstrating a willingness to serve and becoming knowledgeable in city affairs, our communities can be transformed.
The final ski slope is the black diamond. As the name indicates, it represents the greatest challenge and payoff. The goal of the following strategy is sustained community transformation at the local level, which is our interpretation of the original mandate in Genesis 1:26-28 and the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20. Discipling nations implies a community of people or people group being significantly influenced with the Word of God for an extended period of time. For this to happen, the laws or culture will reflect a measurable level of obedience to the Word. Our expectation is not that all those serving at the local level in civil government will be Christian, but our premise is that there will be a mature Christian influence expressed through the local decisions and policies. As we see it, this portrays a city having ascended the mountain of The Lord.
Community Watch Groups (CWG): While it’s not necessary that every local church, congregation or fellowship establish a CWG, there needs to be a significant level of participation among the various ministries in the community. Each group can be made up of a small number of people who represent the entire congregation and have the public endorsement of the leadership. These designated watchmen should be qualified by scriptural guidelines, a grace on their lives to relate to people outside the normal church experience, and an understanding of how to communicate with wisdom. Their assignment is to function as community watchmen who are responsible to be current on issues facing the community. This requires individuals who are available to attend local government meetings on a consistent basis, as well as periodic meetings where potential city impacting issues are discussed. In 2 Kings 18:17, King Hezekiah authorized a delegation to meet with the Assyrian King’s representatives when dealing with important issues for their city’s future. This delegation serves as a model for today’s CWG by highlighting the need for a small, well trained team with specialists who are skilled in dealing with sensitive city matters and not moved by fear or intimidation. Systems of communication must be built that assure timely, consistent and thorough reporting with ministry leaders. Methods will be established where the “intel” these groups gain through community involvement and spiritual discernment can be disseminated to the fellowship.
Apostolic leaders and pastors who carry a Kingdom view and demonstrate a cooperative spirit with other spiritual leaders will work to foster communication and cooperation among the city’s Community Watch Groups. Utilizing the Biblical principle of unity, these groups work in partnership with one another and create a citywide alliance that educates and can mobilize the Christian community in a timely manner. Unity is a non-negotiable component for this strategy to bear fruit in a transformed community.
Identifying who God has mantled for public service: Our experience and application of 1 Corinthians 12:28 is that God sets His people in key places. This strategy works on the belief that God has people in our local communities who carry the spiritual maturity and seasoned wisdom to serve in elected office. Due to lack of revelation or a host of other important issues, many of these men and women have not been involved in their community at this level. Therefore, it is necessary that these qualified people be identified. One thought is to look within the pastors’ fellowship or ministers alliance in your city. We’ve seen numerous times when God has trained and groomed a leader within the church and they are prepared to lead the city. It may be a local pastor who has credibility in the community and spiritual wisdom to become mayor. The key point here is to identify the person or persons who can lead the community. This work is best done by a spiritually mature council of leaders.
Having a designated person or persons to run for city office(s), the Community Watch Groups are mobilized into what we call “deployment phase.” In the past when Christians have run for office, it has been the Lone Ranger or entrepreneurial model. Often the person’s motivation has been honorable, but primarily fueled by an entrepreneurial spirit. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this type of spirit, it lacks the principle of team and unity. Building on the grassroots organization of the CWG’s, their base of knowledge in city issues, the good they will have developed by being involved, and spiritual maturity, the candidate is not left to fend for themselves. Now there is a team to assist the candidate and also serve them in the governing process post election. In the campaign, there is a committed group of prayer warriors who can address the spiritual needs. There is a committed group of advisors who can brief the candidate on important issues and how to speak to the citizens’ concerns. The CWG’s and the involved congregations provide the boots on the ground for such things as community parades, manning citywide events to hand out literature and putting out yard signs. Finally, in the campaign there is a broad base of financial support for the designated candidate. Our experience is that often the Christian community will commit to pray and to some extent help serve, but the financial support has been minimal. Believers have not wanted to financially support Christians running for office at the local level.
Post-election, our cities can expect a surge in good government. As positions on city boards, planning committees and economic development panels need to be filled, the newly elected mayor or council person has a qualified pool of believers to draw from for these appointments. It’s reasonable to believe we can see numerous communities transformed within a short period of time.
As these people gain experience, wisdom and favor in their cities across America, God is raising up Kingdom leaders who now offer the good citizens of our nation premium candidates during state and national elections.
Can America be turned? Yes, one community at a time. Let’s go up the mountain of The Lord together!