It is generally accepted that we live in contentious times politically. Some argue that there has never been a more polarized time in our history. Historians of the political history of the U.S. will be quick to point out other periods that were similarly acrimonious. What if I were to tell you that there is a way to be involved in the political process in your local county that is non-combative and will produce far more important and lasting changes than any of our angry social media posts or protests?
When I began serving at the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort in October 2015, I was immediately amazed at the open doors available for ministry. When I was appointed through Capitol Commission, I became convicted that I should have been doing this ministry even before the appointment. This conviction came as I realized that as a Christian, indeed as a pastor, in the city where the state Capitol exists, I should have considered that a part of my ministry. I believe similar doors of ministry exist in our local cities and all 120 counties in Kentucky. These open doors are in our local city and county governments. Let me share what I do in our Capitol and how I believe this can be replicated across our state.
The ministry that I have in Frankfort is threefold — it is a ministry of presence, prayer and proclamation.
A ministry of presence
First, the ministry that I do at our state Capitol is a ministry of presence. This is, of course, foundational. In October 2015, I just started showing up — walking around the Capitol and the annex building introducing myself and getting to know the people serving in these buildings. Then, I kept showing up—attending committee meetings, walking the halls, hanging out in the cafeteria, sitting in the galleries of the House and Senate, visiting offices, making appointments, etc. All of these helped me to become known and to get to know the various individuals that work at the Capitol. This was essential to have an effective ministry at the Capitol. I had to be seen and they needed to know why I was there—namely for the ministries of prayer and proclamation described below.
I believe this can be replicated in your city or county governments as well. Just start showing up to city council and county commissioner meetings. Go with absolutely no agenda but to get to know the people serving in local government. Introduce yourself to the elected officials and to the staff and let them know why you are there. Sadly, the only times that Christians usually show up at these meetings is when we are upset about something. By simply being there as a positive witness, you will make a huge impact already. They will learn your heart is to care for them and pray for them and they will appreciate that.
A ministry of prayer
One of the primary purposes of the ministry of presence is to have a ministry of prayer. As I go around the Capitol each week, I’m constantly asking people how I can pray for them. In a 30-minute span a couple of weeks ago, I received prayer requests for three special needs from legislators and staff and had the opportunity to pray for those needs with the individuals. When the legislators see me in the halls or in the galleries of the House and Senate chambers, they know that I am there to pray for them.
Likewise, this ministry can be replicated in your local context. Just show up to your county and city meetings and pray. Purpose not to voice any opinions about any of the topics discussed. There is a place for Christians to be vocal about issues discussed. It is an important civic duty, but if you take on this role that will not be your calling. Your calling will be to remain neutral on the political issues in order that you might minister to the spiritual needs of those serving. God will bless your discipline in this area with many opportunities to minister.
A ministry of proclamation
Finally, the ministry I do in Frankfort is a ministry of proclamation. I am there to minister the gospel of Jesus Christ in an uncompromising way. I have found that I can be amazingly bold on the trustworthiness of scripture and the exclusivity of Jesus Christ when I do not muddy the waters with political issues. My goal is that if someone is to be offended it will be because of the gospel of Jesus Christ and not for my views on a political issue. I do a weekly Bible study with legislators and staff. I also minister and counsel to individuals regarding spiritual matters. I share the gospel of Jesus Christ with all.
You may not be a preacher, but this ministry can also be duplicated by you. You don’t have to do a Bible study, but if you are faithful with the ministry of presence and prayer, there will be doors of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ opened for you. Instead of having to go to them, they will be coming to you with questions. When they ask a question about the biblical view on a particular issue, don’t be afraid to share with them and to give them resources to help them think through an issue. Always be charitable with how you deal with these issues, especially with those that are not crystal clear in scripture.
I would love to see this ministry spread over all 120 counties in Kentucky. If that happened, imagine the impact that we could have on the leaders of our state. Additionally, many of these city and county officials will go on to hold state and national offices. This ministry has the potential for ripple effects for decades to come. Please consider this valuable ministry to leaders.
Steve Weaver pastors Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort and serves as Capitol Commission State Minister.