I bet some of you have found this online magazine and asked yourself this question:
“Okay, I get why church planting is important to write about because we are the church. It makes sense that business should be addressed since everybody has to work. Cultural Creatives in some sense represent the current generation’s desires, the Zeitgeist if you will, and we must know them well if we want to reach them. But why is civic leadership one of the four main categories on this online magazine?”
Without being presumptuous, I’d like to answer both why civic leadership is an important investment for the church, and how, in some practical terms, it could look today.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 explains that we must pray for those who are leaders in the government. It says that when the leaders do their job correctly, the people get to live in peace.
Obviously, as human beings who have experienced some forms of tranquility, we know that living in peace is a good in itself, but thankfully, the passage confirms in verse 3 that “this is good and pleasing in the sight of God”.
Then you get to verse 4 and you see the heart of the message: When the people get to live in peace, people get saved. The civic government has a very unique opportunity to make or break the accessibility of the Gospel to the people.
If the church invests in training up future government leaders who bring about peace, we should see more people believing in Christ and living out their faith.
But think on this: We all know that nations with corrupt governments seem to be where Christianity is spreading fastest. We saw it happen in Acts 8:1-4, didn’t we? It’s happening in South America, China, and different places in Africa, isn’t it?
So how does a peaceful nation bring about the spread of the gospel?
The United States does not see the same exponential growth of Christianity as China does today. And yet, the people see more peace in this country than in the latter.
Where’s the rub?
My contention is that the church has taken itself out of the political arena.
Now hear me correctly-
I’m not saying that Christians have taken themselves out of the political arena. There are plenty of The Christian Right who are extremely vocal in politics. I’m saying that the church has taken itself out of this realm, and it is unfortunate.
(Parenthetical note: I’m also not advocating a government/church hybrid like the Holy Roman Empire. Whoa. Definitely not.)
I’m talking about the church taking the development of civic leaders seriously. This includes training in faith, leadership, life. It includes continued support of the individual, and perhaps most importantly, continued partnership.
Why continued partnership? So the church can be stronger lobbyists? So the celebrity-status of the leader can bring more people to the church?
No. Not at all.
So that the government leader can provide further training for other future government leaders in the church.
So that leaders with the right biblical values and public relationship with the community can continue to multiply and bring the gospel back into the conversation in the cities.
So that Christian politicians can learn to relate to the community again, and not isolate the very people we are trying to reach.
So that the networking connections the government leader has can be utilized to help the church (not in illegal or inappropriate ways, of course). And vice-versa.
A People of Peace
We can’t let the separation of church and state make the church’s involvement in the development of civic leaders taboo. The church should be in the business of raising up solid men and women who can lead well, handle conflict graciously yet firmly, and stand firm in their faith as they seek to bring peace to the cities and nations.
After all, we want to be a people of peace. We want to honor Christ with our lives. If our churches can help bring tranquility, and more importantly, the gospel to more people groups, then we should do it.