Rick Barry is managing editor of The Body Politic. He has worked on campaigns for local, state and federal office, is a former writer and editor for Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and currently oversees communications for the Grace DC church network in Washington, DC.
Over the past three and a half months, we've gotten some encouraging feedback about the articles you've been reading on The Body Politic. We're glad that you are reading and we're all excited to get to discuss and pray with you.
Before we begin what promises to be a busy fall (more on that at the end), I'd like to offer you a little more about what we're trying to do with this blog, how it runs, what we've been learning, and how you can participate in the ministries we are trying to launch.
How did we get started?
I started my post-college career working on political campaigns, and I'd been dreaming of being part of an effort to help the church engage the civic sphere in ways that are distinctly Christian ever since. I started getting to know D. Leiva last fall, and we quickly realized that, even though we voted differently, our shared faith in Christ shaped our political lives in similar ways. We quickly hatched a plan to start a blog—and eventually a non-profit—but we were each already several months deep into our respective engagements, so we had to put off actually doing anything about those plans until after our honeymoons.
Why "The Body Politic?"
We chose the name "The Body Politic" because we love wordplay and Jesus. "The body politic" is a common phrase that means "the citizens and residents of a particular country." "The Body of Christ" is a commonly used biblical metaphor describing Jesus' followers, empowered by the Holy Spirit, living as a light in the world until our King's second coming.
We want the content we publish on this website to help believers live out the roles and responsibilities of the body of Christ in the civic dimension of their lives, regardless of their political affiliation.
It's a cheap pun, sure, but it makes us smile.
How did you select writers?
Before launching the website, we prayed and searched for writers who shared our faith in the saving power and eventual return of the resurrected Jesus as outlined in the 66 books of the Bible, but represented a diverse range of relationships to the political process.
Our writers typically vote (or even work) for both liberals and conservatives. Some of them live in DC while others haven't been here since a childhood trip. They include professional political operatives and voters who would never consider working for the government. And they sit on both sides of what I'll call the "Millennial/Boomer" divide. The thing they have in common is their exclusive trust in Christ for their salvation and existential security, as well as their conviction that his kingship should somehow be evident in the way they approach their politics.
What's With the Sponsored Content?
What sponsored content? We don't run any.
There are three institutions currently contributing to this website: Ministry to State, the American Studies Program of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and No Labels. We do not pay them for their contributions and they do not pay us to publish their work. We approached all of these organizations ourselves and asked them to contribute because we thought that these institutions have messages and perspectives that would be helpful to consider if you want to work out what your trust in Christ means for your civic life.
What have you been learning?
The first few months of this blog have been exciting, exhausting and educational.
We've learned that there are a lot of people who are, like us, interested in figuring out what their faith in Christ means for their political and civic lives: We've had visitors from 49 states*. Over a third of the people who have visited this site once have come back. And the feedback we've been getting by email and over social media has been largely encouraging.
*If you know anyone in Maine who might be encouraged by anything we've published, please send them a link—I've been itching to get that to 50 for MONTHS.
We've also learned a lot more about our own limitations and frailty. We both work full-time and we are both trying to be attentive husbands to our wives, so most of the planning, writing, editing, designing and praying for this blog happens late at night, after our wives (and most of the city) are asleep. We've very quickly been learning that, despite what BNL might want you to think, sleep is actually pretty important. We're also learning how prone we are to focus on pushing projects through ourselves rather than taking the time to pause and pray persistently for the projects that are already running and the people who are being served by them.
What else should I be expecting?
This will, hopefully, be a busy autumn for us and an edifying one for you: We've already launched our monthly newsletter—which includes recommended reading, newsletter-exclusive articles and devotional content, and in-case-you-missed-it highlights from the blog. We'll be holding our first "in-real-life" event here in Washington, DC, before the leaves are finished falling. And we'll be piloting a new resource for local churches that will be released in 2016.
How can I help?
The easiest thing you can do to help is to sign up for our newsletter. The next issue comes out in mid-September, but we'll send you the most recent issue when you sign up.
The next thing you can do is share our website with your friends or pastor. We want to help start conversations about what the gospel means for believers' civic lives, but it's hard to have conversations alone.
But the most important thing you can do to help is pray...
...for D. Leiva and I as we continue to learn to work together with our eyes fixed on the author and perfecter of our faith. And pray that we can faithfully serve God's church in whatever capacities we are called to without also scorning God's good gift of sabbath rest.
...for the rest of the writers on this site to continue pressing on in their civic lives faithfully and for them to be granted the ability to communicate clearly as they write.
...for members of your local church who work in politics or have strong political convictions to clearly demonstrate the life-changing, life-giving power of the gospel to their political allies.
As Executive Director of Center for Christian Civics, Rick helps ministry leaders and faith communities develop missional approaches to their local public squares. He has worked on campaigns for local, state and federal office, is a former writer and editor for Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and oversaw communications for the Grace DC church network. He and his wife live in Washington, DC.