Our Journey toward Government
– by Peter Dresser
My wife, Lisa, and I are the senior pastors of Metro Detroit Christian Church. Historically, we have not been a congregation that is active in government or politics. However, two years ago, the Holy Spirit started us on a journey toward government – a journey that I now know is central to the expression of Christ’s kingdom in our state and nation.
Awakening — throwing off the lies of revisionist history
In April of 2010, Lisa and I heard historian David Barton speak at a meeting where Pete Hoekstra was launching his senatorial campaign. The next day, at Eric Moore’s invitation, Lisa participated in a small question and answer session between David Barton, Pete Hoekstra and ten other area pastors.
These meetings had a profound impact on Lisa and me. We were shocked as David Barton unveiled the truth about the faith of our founding fathers and their biblical, Christian worldview that shaped the framing of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Were these things really true? Were most of our founding fathers deeply Christian – as David Barton was indicating? Was the Bible really the most important book shaping American culture in the 18th and 19th centuries?
My wife ordered David Barton’s American Heritage Series and began exploring a truthful view of history. Soon I joined her and an awakening began to occur in our family. We learned that the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was the number one purpose for the existence of the colonies and written into the first constitutions of many of our nation’s states. We discovered that many of the founding fathers started bible societies to create a WHOLE NATION of people who were biblically literate. A new understanding of our nation’s history opened to us as we went through the DVD series.
It wasn’t long before Lisa and I knew that we must take our entire congregation through the American Heritage Series. We could see that the affects of revisionist history taught in our nation’s educational system had weakened the church. How could we have a prophetic voice and a clear vision for our country’s future, if we were foggy, unsure, or even deceived about our nation’s past? How could we have faith for a Great Awakening in our nation, if we believed the lie that most of our founding fathers were Deists…if we believed the lie that the separation of church and state meant that Christianity was NOT intended to play a central role in the government?
To undo the affects of revisionist history, we took our whole congregation—adults and children—through the entire American Heritage Series in 15-minute segments. Every Sunday for 18 months, from June 2010 through November 2011, the impact of each video presentation was penetrating. People applauded as heroic stories were recounted and great documents were read. Individuals would gasp and then be angered as lies they had believed were exposed. We often sat in silence, humbled by the moral and intellectual caliber found in both our founding father and the general population. Every Sunday, we would stand and pray with real heart and inspiration asking God for a move of the Holy Spirit to return our nation to its roots in Christ.
By December 2011, we were changed. We had a strong foundation in the cross of Christ, were awake to our nation’s Godly heritage, cleansed from the lies of revisionist history, alert to the dangerous trends at work in our culture, and ready for the next step in our journey toward government.
Conviction — the example of Deitrich Bonhoeffer and the church in Germany
At the beginning of this year, Lisa and I began reading the book “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy.” Over the summer we started a book club to get others in the church reading “Bonhoeffer” and reflecting on its implications for today. One thing we discovered is that Hitler’s rise to power and the atrocities of the Holocaust were aided by the silence and acquiescence of the church. The true church in Germany had lost its voice in shaping culture, political thought, and the expression of government.
The parallels we could see between cultural and political developments in Nazi Germany and current trends in our own nation were alarming. And this was not okay.
I began to be hungry for a voice into government and for authentic connections with governing leaders. In fact, a conviction was forming inside me that the church — my church, ME, Lisa, the pastors in metro Detroit, believers in the state of Michigan — MUST be in proper relationship with the governing leaders of our city, state or nation. It is not optional. I came to that conviction that Eric Moore’s vision for a Culture of Honor was not only good, but an absolute necessity.
To mobilize the church to change government with love and prayer…To build relationships of honor between the church and governmental leaders in Michigan’s 110 state representative districts, 38 state senate districts, 14 congressional districts and 100′s of mayors, that fosters trust, informed intercession and spiritual support.
Without our prayers of Faith, without our biblical worldview, without our honor and support – it is impossible for government to function in a Godly manner.
Biblical revelation — Jesus connects sent ones with governing leaders
Through the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the failed example of the church in Germany, the Holy Spirit moved us on in our journey toward government – convincing us that we must find our voice into government. The Holy Spirit confirmed this conviction through multiple Scriptures – particularly Acts 9:15:
“Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name
before the Gentiles and their kings…”
Christ clearly integrated governmental leaders into the gospel commission! In fact, in almost every city that Paul visited, he had some kind of interaction with a governmental ruler, military leader, judge, mid-level government administrator, or other public official, including the:
- Roman governor on Cyprus
- God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city of Pisidian AntiochLeaders in Iconium
- The authorities, magistrates, of the city of Philippi
- City officials in Thessalonica
- Philosophers at Athens and men of the Areopagus, the high court of appeals for civil and criminal
- Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia
- Trade union and the city clerk in Ephesus
- Claudius Lysias, commander of the Romans troops in Jerusalem
- Governor Felix
- Governor Festus
- King Agrippa
- Julius, a centurion in the Imperial Regiment
- Publius, chief official on the island of Malta
I had never seen this apostolic pattern so clearly: In heaven’s administration of the gospel, there is an inseparable link between the church and governmental leaders. And furthermore, I sensed Jesus was sending me and Lisa! Through the Scriptures, the voice of the Holy Spirit was propelling us to connect with our governing leaders. The time had come to take action.
Engagement with governing leaders – The vision of a Culture of Honor
Last month, we had lunch with Eric Moore to seek his counsel and to integrate our steps with The Society for the Promotion of a Culture of Honor. We also had Eric share the vision of a Culture of Honor at our church. Then, I made appointments with our state representative, Vicki Barnett, and our state senator, Vincent Gregory.
Our appointment with Vicki Barnett at the end of September went extremely well. We met at Panera in Farmington and talked for nearly an hour like we were old friends – an answer to Lisa’s prayer for the presence of the Holy Spirit and ease of relating to permeate our connection. We found Rep. Barnett engaging and very informative. Then, I had a hand out with two scriptures that we read together and which explained the purpose of our visit:
HONORING GOVERNMENTAL LEADERS
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. (1 Peter 2:13-17)
PRAYING FOR GOVERNMENTAL LEADERS
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle–I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying–a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-7)
We looked at Rep. Barnett and said, “We want to honor you and thank you for your service to us, our district and the state of Michigan”. The presence of God was palpable, and Rep. Barnett was visibly touched. Then, we told her that we would be praying for her. We offered to pray for anything in her life – personal or professional – or anything affecting our district or the state. The love of God was penetrating and Rep. Barnett was deeply moved.
We left with a real sense of connection, a desire for the success of our representative, a sense of the kingdom of God at work, and eager for more relationship in the future. Since our meeting, we have prayed regularly for Vicki Barnett – prayer that has been made easy, genuine, and Spirit-filled because of our connection.
In early October, I ended up meeting with a liaison from Vincent Gregory’s office – rather than having a personal connection with the Senator. The visit was cordial and a good first step. More work will need to be done, though, to build a meaningful relationship. This experience underscored for me the reality that to build a Culture of Honor will take long-term investment.
Faithfulness – The establishment of the Kingdom of God
Jesus is leading this journey to connect the church with government. Our journey has just begun. We’ve been awakened, convicted, sent – and taken our first steps. As the Holy Spirit awakens and leads hundreds of Michigan pastors and church leaders into a prayerful, honorable relationship with every representative, senator, and mayor in the state – as we are faithful to the call of Christ with our lives – we will see a Culture of Honor take root and become the major expression of the Kingdom of God.