Reaching out to the 112th Congress
Dear URC Friends and Supporters,
The URC has a tremendous opportunity to reach out to the new U.S. Congress moving to town next month. Here's how.
One of the constant challenges of planting a church in Washington, DC is the remarkably transitional nature of this city, in the midst of a day and age of great transition. Last year, we lost 47% of our membership due to the last presidential election and military reassignments.
Of course, transition is both a challenge, and an opportunity. Whether you like it or not, Washington DC continues to be a growing metropolis. largely because it has one of the strongest local economies in the United States, driven by an employer who never goes out of business or runs out of money--the U.S. government. The trick for Christ Reformed is taking advantage of the good side of transition, those moments when people move to town.
One such moment will occur in January, when the 112th Congress gavels into existence. The November elections resulted in a historic change of power; out of 435 congressional offices, 90 or so will be occupied by new members, each of which has a personal staff of 8 - 10 in DC. Because the majority in the House changed from Democrat to Republican, innumerable committees and subcommittees will have new staff. There is usually a 3 to 1 ratio of majority to minority staffers, so a switch of majority means many lost jobs, and many new jobs. Overall, I've heard that 3,000 - 4,000 people lost their jobs in the U.S. House alone due to the November elections, which means roughly that many newcomers--many of them moving from their home states--will start working on Capitol Hill next month.
Many of them will be looking for a church.
That is why Christ Reformed is presenting a series of lunchtime seminars on Capitol Hill, entitled "Christianity and Politics 101: What's Wrong with the Christian Right [and Left]." For four Fridays in January we will host a free lunch at a local mexican restaurant a few steps from the House office buildings. As a former Capitol Hill staffer, I will present a practical and theological primer about how Christians can be a force for good in public life, while preserving a faithful confession in a calling filled with corruption and compromise.
We have never targeted outreach to congressional staff before, but we feel this opportunity is too valuable to pass up. Interest in this event is already extremely high, with 21 RSVP's resulting from us just posting our Facebook event. Another Christian group on the Hill has offered to let us send an invitation to their email list, 800 members strong, and this invitation hasn't gone out yet. We're pretty sure we'll be able to fill our space each Friday.
We are excited for this opportunity in the new year, but we need your help. Here's what you can do:
2011 will be Christ Reformed Church's first full year of full-time ministry in DC. The timing couldn't be better, with so many new congressional staffers moving to town. Unfortunately, we are projected to be $60,000 short of our budget next year. If you haven't yet taken up an offering for Christ Reformed, please plan to do so in 2011. We are privileged to represent the URC in this strategic place, but we need your support.
Consider taking a special offering in January for this project at your church. Each lunch will cost us $500 - $900, depending on turnout. I know this sounds like a lot of money, but getting the word out in a big city is not cheap, or easy. This is an extremely targeted effort to thousands of new residents, and we will be presenting the hope of the Christian gospel in the face of a political activism that is often godless. [One of our new members moved to town as a member of the Religious Right a few years ago... he was a nominal Catholic who now recognizes that he wasn't even a believer.]
Please pray for the many new contacts we'll have, and ask the members of your congregations to pray for us. Hundreds of believers on the hill will hear about Christ Reformed church for the first time, and we'll have personal contacts with many of them.
Consider forwarding this email to prayer lists that your congregations may maintain, or posting a link to it on your website (copy the address of this page). Or use the "Share this Email" box above to post it to your personal or church Facebook account. While your church may not be able to take up an offering in January, many members of your congregation may have a particular concern for the spiritual state of our government officials, and wish to make their own contribution online to assist this outreach effort. Help us spread the word about this effort.
Encourage your congregation to subscribe to this list. By receiving our update emails, your members can continue to pray most effectively for the work of Christ Reformed Church.
Dr. Brian Lee