You may have seen recent news reports about our plans to bring pastors to the Arkansas Legislature when our lawmakers convene next year. Our goal is to see hundreds of ministers from multiple churches and denominations across Arkansas be present to pray with and serve our members of government.
Why do this? I’ve had several different people ask me that. What’s the point in bringing pastors to the Capitol? I have to answer that question by first saying what the point isn’t. The point isn’t to turn hundreds of pastors into hundreds of lobbyists. Ministers have every right to speak to legislators about laws, and many often do—especially on social-moral issues like marriage, family, and abortion. However, that isn’t the purpose of this effort.
The legislature can be a very dark place, both emotionally and spiritually. I would say most of our lawmakers are good, upstanding people, and many are very devout Christians, but even the most moral and devout people lose sight of what’s important when they get tangled up in all the mess that sometimes unfolds in that building. A few years ago a lawmaker told me that his rides home from the Little Rock on the weekends were always a little depressing; he would pass his neighbors’ houses on his way into town, and he would reflect on how the votes he cast and the things he stood for that week hadn’t always reflected how the folks back home would have wanted him to act.
When pastors come to the Capitol—especially pastors who know the lawmakers—it brings a breath of fresh air to the place. If a minister is sitting in the room, committee members almost always become more civil. It isn’t just that people are trying to impress the preacher. His presence is a reminder of what they were elected to do and how people expect them to behave.
Emotionally, the legislative process is very draining. Late nights, early mornings, endless conversations, and bitter disputes take a toll on a person. Most voters don’t realize what a tough job it really is to be a lawmaker. In over two decades of visiting the Capitol, I have seen more than a few elected officials burn out. Pastors can minister to lawmakers. They can listen. They can pray. They can speak the comforting words of God’s truth and wisdom.
Finally, this effort fulfills a biblical mandate. Paul instructed Timothy to pray for all those in authority—including kings and rulers (1 Timothy 2:2). Paul and Timothy didn’t have the kind of access to their rulers that we do today. Our goal is to help ministers fulfill that mandate of praying for and ministering to our lawmakers to the fullest extent possible.
If your minister would like to come out to the Capitol to pray with and minister to lawmakers, have him contact our office at (501) 375-7000 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.