2016 In Review, 2017 In Preview
"What the heck am I supposed to do this election season?”
A lot of people were wondering that this year. And what our faith means for our approach to government is something Christians in any democracy need to wrestle with over and over again as the climate around us changes and develops. That’s why we officially launched the Center for Christian Civics this past June: to empower our brothers and sisters in Christ to live out the gospel clearly and compellingly in their civic lives, across the country and across political lines.
As the year draws to a close, I want to take a moment to share some highlights from our first six months and give you a look at what we’re planning for the year ahead.
Over the course of the summer and fall, we provided support, coaching and resources to congregants, pastors and leaders in over 50 churches around the country. Our team also spent a good amount of time in 2016 leading classes on faith, politics and church community at congregations and schools in five states. These Bible study guides, books and classes were received excitedly across the board—after every class, attendees said that they’d never heard anything like it! I’d like to quickly share with you feedback we got from a participant in one of our classes in upstate New York:
“The workshop wonderfully highlighted the difference between what is ultimate—God’s word—and what is important, but not ultimate—politicians, policies, and earthly power. The event reminded me that other Christians deeply understood this, even if they hold different political views from me. This was a powerful example of church unity and challenged me to more actively build this unity within the broader church.”
How exciting it is to know that people are leaving our workshops not just better equipped to honor the gospel in their own public lives, but to foster a broader community that does the same!
Many people also expressed a desire to learn how to pray for this subject in a biblical way. So in response, we launched an ongoing series of national prayer conference calls. These calls connect believers around the country with patient, balanced guidance in how to pray for the health of our country, the flourishing of our elected officials, and the effect the political process has on our church communities. The response has been great, and I’m excited to officially announce that we will be continuing these calls in 2017.
What to Expect Next Year
But these prayer calls aren’t the only thing we have planned for next year—I want you to be among the first to hear about four new projects we’re planning for 2017:
In the run-up to the election, we had to slow down our blog, The Body Politic, to focus on getting some of our election-season resources off the ground. But in 2017, we will be publishing more articles than ever on The Body Politic and drawing on an even wider range of writers. This will include an increased focus on the practical tools of civic education. Even more noteworthy, though, is that we’ll also be launching a new companion podcast in the first quarter of 2017! The Body Politic Podcast will highlight worthwhile teaching on faith and politics from churches and Christian schools around the country, as well as interviews and conversations with members of the Center for Christian Civics community.
Next, our team will be producing and releasing all-new Bible study guides for small groups who want a safe way to kick-start conversations about what it means for the church to cross political barriers. These shorter topical guides will cover topics like the divide between urban and rural sensibilities in our culture and the idolatries that make it hard to get along with people who don’t share your politics. (Our first Bible study guide, which examined how the gospel transforms the way we react to apocalyptic campaign rhetoric, will continue to be available, as well!)
We will begin providing focused guidance and mentorship to future church leaders. The first step in this process will be launching a new internship program. Over the course of the year, four college students and two pastors-in-training will have the chance to receive mentorship and instruction from the Christian Civics staff and board. We’re excited to begin providing these interns with practical discipleship by giving them a structured way to begin putting the things people talk about in our classes and workshops into practice in real ways.
Lastly, in 2017 we’ll be piloting new projects designed to foster fruitful fellowship between Christians across some of the biggest divides in U.S. politics: The divides between our country’s urban, suburban and rural communities. It can often feel like people in cities and people in small towns aren’t even speaking the same language, but scripture tells us that every tribe and tongue will be represented in the Kingdom. We’re excited to be part of the Spirit’s work, giving us a foretaste of that kingdom in the here and now.
Of course, none of this can happen without your involvement, and there are a few ways we’d love for you to help:
- First, we’d truly appreciate you supporting our work by including us in your end-of-year giving. Would you make a year-end donation today?
- Second, we ask that you’d join us on our journey through 2017 by becoming a monthly donor. Year-end gifts are absolutely crucial for kick-starting our work in the new year, but we can’t expand our team or budget responsibly without financial partners providing consistent encouragement and support. Please become a monthly donor in 2017.
- Third, subscribe to our mailing list and use our prayer calls and monthly newsletters to guide prayer at your church, in your small group, or with your friends and family.
- And lastly, pray for our staff and volunteers. Helping the church forge a new path forward in the way that we exist in the public square is going to be the long, hard work of a generation. Our staff, volunteers and supporters won’t be able to equip their communities effectively without the support of other prayer warriors around the country.
Thanks so much for your time, your prayers and your support. I’m more excited for 2017 than I think I’ve ever been excited for a new year. If you want to know more about other ways you can support our work or be a part of it, I’d love to hear from you—don’t hesitate to contact us.
On Behalf of the Christian Civics team