Mt Soledad
Welcome to the
Christian Citizenship Council
of San Diego
San Diego
“When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Prov 29:2)

Equipping the Church to Vote

Chapter 8: Election Pre-View Evenings

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans
will succeed.” (Prov 16:3)

One of the rights we have, Christian or not, is to freely exercise our citizenship responsibilities.  I believe it’s incumbent upon church leaders to encourage active involvement in the governance of this nation, and all decisions affecting us.  This includes the election of leaders and the definition of the standard to be applied to all people’s actions.  To do this in a knowledgeable and thoughtful manner it’s important to create opportunities for proper equipping to occur.

One approach is to host what I term Election Pre-View Evenings.  These evenings can use a wide range of approaches and formats, but the objective is the same:  to help equip believers to fulfill their high calling as citizens in two kingdoms, our heavenly one (Matt 22:37) and our earthly one (Matt 22:39).  In this earthly kingdom we apply ourselves for the good of others and our own families.  Being a member of our heavenly kingdom, however, reminds us of who we are and our responsibility to fulfill our salt and light mission while here.  Like anything, this needs to be done in a Christ-honoring, orderly way.  The following summarizes very simple, practical aspects of conducting an Election Pre-View Evening to ensure a meaningful and productive use of resources and time.  Once tried, you’ll undoubtedly tailor your own approach to better suit your specific church’s needs.

Start Up
Good, early organization is important to ensure the success of any endeavor.  By bringing together a small group on interested people early on, most difficulties can be anticipated and addressed before they become overwhelming.  This also gives an early opportunity for church leadership to become aware of plans, and provide adequate shepherding oversight to all activities.  One caution for leaders, a church can be similar to a secular business in that lack of attention or interest by senior managers (e.g., pastors or elder board) will give the unmistakable impression an activity is not important.  Not only will this destroy enthusiasm, it will also lead to an inability to answer questions of why this ministry area is important.

A major decision requiring an early answer is whether the approach will include the direct involvement of other churches, or whether your church will proceed alone.  The dynamics involved with multiple churches is significantly different than if wholly contained within one group.  Some of the complications include:

  • Possible discord due to doctrinal differences that may tend to divide
  • Differences in understanding of the Biblical view on some issues
  • Potentially strong leadership’s inability to defer to others
  • Larger churches exercising a greater degree of influence
  • The more churches, generally the more divergent the perspectives
  • The larger the group, generally the more difficulty in obtaining consensus

One advantage of involvement by multiple churches is the balance that can result, as Proverbs 15:22 says: “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”  The airing of different approaches and perspectives causes each to consider what is best for all and not just one’s own particular focus.  Since there are many reasons churches sometimes can’t work well together, it’s vital that solid objectives be created early on to provide focus on what needs to be accomplished.  With this focus, the Lord can work through the variety of issues to show strength in the Body of Christ, instead of the typical standoffishness.  When decisions need to be made, it’s helpful to consider the following Biblical guidelines:

  • Earnestly strive to seek God’s will and counsel (Psalm 143:10)
  • Ensure scriptural admonitions are not violated (2 Tim 3:16,17)
  • Show mutual regard for one another (Phil 2:2-4)
  • Submit one to another (Eph 5:21)
  • Wait patiently upon one another (Eph 4:20
  • Genuinely consider one another’s perspectives (Prov 15:22, Phil 2:4)
  • Prefer and defer to one another on all minor issues (Prov 13:10)
  • Always maintain a teachable spirit (Prov 18:15)

Another advantage of multiple church involvement is the obvious multiplying effect.  The more churches involved in the process, the greater the interest generated to get involved and the greater the number consistently equipped.  Resources can also be leveraged in an efficient manner, and the availability of a larger church facility to host any Election Pre-View Evening provides opportunity for much larger attendance.

One other option, a single church may choose to conduct all the planning for an Election Pre-View Evening and then invite other churches to attend.  Although this puts a significant burden on one church, it allows others to benefit from their diligent efforts.  It should be noted, however, that unless there is a strong relationship with other churches, through their leaders knowing and working with each other in the past or some other common binding factor, the probability of having significant attendance from outside your own church will be quite small.

Common Goals
It is critical early on to establish (document) what is going to be accomplished.  This is even more important when several churches are involved in the decisions to follow.  Having a set of goals prevents new participants from having unrealistic expectations, and keeps the group focused on what needs to be done.  Example goals could include:

  • The desire to educate Christians to better cast their ballet
  • To equip believers to be more actively engaged in citizenship rights and privileges (James 2:14-17) at all levels
  • To develop a common understanding of the issues being addressed
  • To support the election or appointment of the godly to public office through prayer, encouragement and active involvement
  • To purpose to pray individually and corporately for all that are in authority over us (1 Tim 2:2)
  • To encourage Christians with information on victories the Lord has provided (1 Thess 5:11; Heb 3:13)
  • To identify existing, and/or publish, resource materials for wider use
  • To support the creation and enforcement of righteous laws (1 Tim 1:8-11)

Whatever the specific direction you choose, taking time to characterize what you want to accomplish will be well worth the investment.

In all that’s agreed to be accomplished, maintaining the integrity and reputation of the Christian community, and of Jesus Christ specifically, must be the overarching vision.  Obeying the civil law concerning activities by churches, particularly those that are 501(c)3, will help prevent needless legal entanglements.  Finally, purposing to ensure the various church representatives keep their respective church leadership informed of all developments, and actively seeking their wise counsel and support will prevent internal misunderstandings or confusion as time goes on.

Conduct of the Evening
The concept of an Election Pre-View Evening is foreign to most churches primarily because they’ve never been exposed to one, much less actually conducted one.  Like any formal meeting, there needs to be structure and ground-rules that are understood up front.  This brief section is intended to provide some suggestions on how to go about a potentially “charged” evening in a manner that is conducted in an orderly fashion – befitting a family of God.

There can be any number of segments to plan for, although each must be tailored to meet your own specific needs.  Just as a long worship service can begin to lose people, a long evening after a long day of activities can also cause people to disengage.  Two hours is a reasonable time period to allocate, with time assigned according to the emphasis that is going to be stressed.  Another stumbling block for many is children.  For those children old enough to understand, an evening like this can become a superb opportunity to inculcate citizenship duties and responsibilities (with a Christian worldview) early on.  For younger children, the availability of child care will allow both mother and father to attend so they both can be equipped and not have to rely upon the other as their sole source of information.
The following is a generic outline some churches have followed and found useful:

  • Welcome, Objectives and Ground-Rules
  • Biblical Instruction
  • Ballot Measures
  • Candidates
  • Prayer and Close
  • Fellowship and Follow-Up Time

The ground-rules will set the stage for all that follows.  It’s important to ensure the audience knows the host church is not formally endorsing a candidate or “commanding” a person to vote a certain way.  The material presented will be the opinions of the presenters only.  The objectives of the evening should be clearly stated up front and adhered to, to prevent rabbit trails or misplaced expectations.  This will also help guarantee the evening will end on time.  Some important ground-rules recommended for use include:

  • The facilitator reserves the right to move the discussion forward
  • The Biblical mandate to justify the evening will be explained, but it is not intended to be discussed – that can occur afterwards
  • When the audience is invited to participate, comments are to be brief, to the point, and as factual as possible
  • Providing the Biblical foundation for anything presented is encouraged throughout
  • Everyone is to be gracious and patient with one another, and respect each others views (does not mean everyone must agree with each view!)
  • Extended conversations should be reserved for after the close of the formal meeting
  • The formal part of the evening will end on time

The degree and type of Biblical instruction provided will be determined by the Biblical maturity of the audience.  If the concept of Christian Citizenship is completely alien to those that attend, then some degree of instruction is absolutely critical to show there is Biblical warrant for what is going to be provided and discussed.  Potential subjects include any of the material contained in this pamphlet, tailored or expanded for the expected audience.

For ballot measures, the section following this one provides one possible approach to standardize the presentations.  There’s great potential for any issue to result in a long presentation or discussion.  To minimize this possibility up front, it is recommended there be a “dry-run” of all presentations prior to the formal evening.  This allows each speaker (if more than one) to calibrate their approach and content with others.  It also allows opportunity for changes to be made to shorten (or lengthen) the actual wording to fit the available time.  Even with this preparation, there can be lively discussion if a question and answer period is allowed after each ballot measure is talked about.  This is where the facilitator needs to judge when to stop discussion and move on.

Presentations addressing candidates are more difficult, since the issues or knowledge of them may be less certain.  Some guidelines in addressing this area are also presented below.  Even more so than ballot measures, candidate discussions of any kind may bring out strong emotions on one side or the other.  In addition, this particular area is one that holds the greatest risk for a church to get into difficulties because of the potential to be viewed as endorsing a particular person
Some final instruction at the close of the evening would include recommending further study by the participants in small Bible fellowship groups, as a family, or with friends.  This makes the exercise even more personal and begins to pattern an approach to taking the subject of voting to the level of importance it is due.

Following the formal portion of the evening, an informal time of fellowship and discussion can allow more detailed questions to be addressed that would not be appropriate in the larger session.

Ballot Measures
Very few legislative decisions are voted on directly by the public.  Those that are on a ballet can be due to petition drives by registered voters, bond measures that by law are required to be voted on, or other means specific to a particular state, county or city.  However they become qualified for placement on a ballot, they represent opportunities for the “people” to be heard directly.

Ballot measures represent one of the clearer opportunities to apply Biblical principles when voting decisions are made.  Many times they appear because an issue is so controversial a legislative body won’t take the risk of addressing it directly.  An example of a formative issue the public was asked to decide on was California’s recent Proposition 22 fight.  This “save marriage” proposition in March 2000 attempted to prevent the legalization or recognition of gay marriages in the state.  It stated: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California”.  By passing overwhelmingly with 61.4% of the vote it demonstrated the power of the evangelical community when it mobilizes on a moral issue that affects everyone.  The “rest of the story” however, is that even with a victory of this type constant vigilance is required to maintain this moral standard in the public domain.  Since the passage of Prop 22, there have been a slew of legislative measures at both the local and state level to legalize “domestic partnerships”.  These attempt to legitimize homosexual relationships in all aspects except the use of the term marriage.  One vote on one issue, though successful, is not cause for Christians to think the battle is won.  The fight will continue on many fronts, and we must learn to take a stand for righteousness wherever possible.

Be that as it may, for those ballot measures presented to the public for a vote, an Election Pre-View Evening affords an excellent opportunity to address them through Biblical glasses.  Experience has shown a common format of presentation is very powerful in ensuring adequate research is done, and the audience gains a clear understanding of the issues involved. Handouts to allow further consideration are also very important.  Providing these for each presentation allows participants to further discuss at home or in small Bible Fellowship groups afterwards.  An example of a single page format addressing a ballot measure is shown at the end of this section.  Obviously, this can be tailored as appropriate for your application.
A word to the wise, the work required to address ballot measures will be challenging, since it’s important to be as objective as possible.  If done right, a balanced presentation will help ensure the integrity of the information provided as well as give confidence in those listening that it’s a valid, Biblically-based answer.  Some additional suggestions when researching ballot measures include the following:

  • Each presenter:
  • Should become personally very familiar with the Ballot Measure
  • Should read the actual text of the measure (the “legalese”) and not just the summarized version that typically appears in voter guides
  • Needs to be as objective as possible in addressing the issue, even though they may feel very strongly one way or the other. This means willing to adequately represent the best arguments from the opposite side of your own position
  • Should be concise, to the point, and not exceed any time allocation
  • Needs to submit to the moderator to ensure flow through the evening
  • Arguments For & Against
  • The strongest arguments on each side should be represented, not just those acceptable to the presenter
  • Use factual information and good logic, not emotional rhetoric
  • Be brief, not wordy
  • Biblical Principles
  • Use as many scriptural references as needed to convey the needed point/principle
  • It is not necessary to provide the scriptural text in writing since they can be looked up at home
  • Use clear principles and scripture verses that are un-ambiguous and do not require great explanation
  • Bring out as many pertinent principles as possible that directly address the issue
  • Significant Organizational Endorsements
  • Preferably, use only easily recognizable organizations (or persons)
  • The particular reason for the organization’s position need not be listed unless it is absolutely necessary and can be brief
  • Personal Recommendation
  • There is liberty for the presenter to recommend a “Yes” or “No” on the ballot measure based upon their own research.  This does not constitute an official position by the host church, church policy, or church direction towards its members
  • Summarize the primary, compelling reason(s) for your stance
  • Stay away from saying “you should”, etc.  This is the presenter’s position based upon personal investigation and study
  • Q&A
  • If possible, time should be allowed for the audience to give different views or have questions and answers.  This provides participation by the audience and makes them more than just “hearers of the word”.  Comments should, however, be supported as factually as possible.
  • The presenter is the best informed to address issues that may come up since he has done the research others have not had opportunity to do
  • There is always the potential that additional, compelling information and insights can be provided through the audience (Prov 15:22)
  • A strict time limit should be applied to ensure the evening progresses

Even though this appears to be a complicated process, remember it serves a couple of objectives.  First, it helps to equip Christians to be educated voters by showing how to reason through a decision from a Biblical perspective.  Second, it demonstrates to church members this is something important and should not be taken lightly.  Third, it provides an impetus for others to get involved, realizing this is a high and noble calling in our country – to directly influence the creation of the standard with which we will all be held accountable.  Finally, and most importantly, it demonstrates that the Bible, God’s direct revelation to us, is relevant, timely, and provides the necessary principles to govern even our votes.

Ballot Measure “A” (Example Format)

Official Title: (The title that will appear on the ballet)

Summary: (Short paragraph summarizing measure (official or your own))

Significant Arguments For: (List all major, strong arguments for)


Significant Arguments Against: (List all major, strong arguments against)


Biblical Principles that Apply: (List key references, and principle involved)


Significant Organizations Stance: (List reputable org’s for & against)

  • Those For:
  • Those Against:

Personal Recommendation: (Give own personal position and major reason)


Discussion (Q&A): (Personal notes by audience can be written below)






Candidates for Office
Presentations concerning candidates are intrinsically more difficult, because knowledge of them is generally less certain.  If a similar level and type of information is available on all viable candidates for a particular office, it can be presented (or overviewed) quite easily in a factual manner.  Care should be exercised, however, to not appear that the church is formally endorsing a particular person.  This part of the evening will benefit tremendously by having voter guides available for handout that are proven to be trustworthy.  Several different sources would be even more beneficial.  The availability of guides has been tested in courts recently, and as long as certain requirements are followed, their use is fully legal.

Another effective way to handle candidates, if time allows, is to convene a panel to discuss various known positions of candidates.  Again, it’s important to accurately reflect the stance of all viable candidates to ensure objectivity in presentation and at the same time to prevent the appearance of an official endorsement one way or another by a church.  This type of approach requires a significant investment in research time to understand the candidate as much as possible.  An alternative is to review available voter guides with the audience to better calibrate on a candidate’s position on important issues.  Though this can be very helpful, there are limitations.

In addition to voter guides, soliciting comments from the audience that are factually based and not just emotional responses can be of benefit to all present.  Personally verified information (or from a known, credible source) can be very powerful in settings like this.  Discretion, however, is extremely important so that rumors and innuendo don’t color an otherwise God honoring discussion.  Obviously, Christians are not to have a part in  any form of gossip.

For more detailed discussions on candidate issues, see Chapter 9 “Voter Guides” and Chapter 7 “Biblical Qualifications for Candidates”.

Guest Speakers (Politicians)

An unusual way to gain direct insights into candidates for public office is to extend invitations to attend the Election Pre-View Evening.  If one candidate is invited, all viable candidates must be invited to ensure objectivity.  This doesn’t mean all must agree to actually attend, but each must have been given the opportunity.  When I say viable, I’m referring to those that are generally considered able to receive at least a few percentage points of votes.  There are some states and local elections that allow virtually anyone to register as a new political party or as a non-partisan candidate with virtually no qualifications.  Inviting each and every one of these would be cumbersome at best.

Candidates for local public office would obviously have the highest possibility of attending.  When sending a letter of invitation detail the approach to the evening, the time allocation, and the topics the candidate is asked to address so there is no confusion over expectations.  A particularly insightful request would be for the candidate to give their personal Christian testimony, as well as specific prayer requests concerning those areas of public service they wrestle with.

A note of caution is appropriate.  Once a person is given the floor to speak, it may become difficult to bring them to closure if they decide to talk about other subjects or ignore the time allocation given to them.  How to handle this should be thought through beforehand (and even expected).  An entirely different approach to dealing with candidates would be to conduct a “Candidate Night”, where the entire evening is dedicated to allowing each to talk about issues of importance to the audience and answering questions.  This type of forum can be very powerful in helping individuals formulate more accurate views of the qualifications and reasoning abilities of candidates.

Invited Organizations
Two of the primary objectives of an Election Pre-View Evening are to educate believers on Christian citizenship duties and to equip them to engage as their particular abilities allow.  A related objective is to make Christians aware of the numerous organizations diligently working to protect and promote Christian values in society and with the government.  An Election Pre-View Evening provides a great opportunity for these groups to have information tables (or booths) available to advertise themselves and their information. The same approach is often followed during conferences, where information tables are available before, during and after the formal meeting. Those that attend have an opportunity to dialogue with men and women on the front lines of engaging the culture or the government on our behalf.  A variety of books, pamphlets, publications, videos, periodicals, signup sheets etc. can be provided whether there is a representative actually present or not.

Many times Christians become disheartened because they think they’re alone in trying to make a difference.  By showing a sampling of the many committed efforts Christian-based organizations are making, most people become very encouraged.  Also, when availing themselves of information and being added to e-mail distribution lists, the continuing process of education and activism is strengthened.

Another troublesome condition many find themselves in, is believing “we are not winning” in the war against evil in the land.  By being exposed to success stories of ministries making a difference, the belief that one person can make a difference is strengthened even more.  Far too many times we tend to concentrate on the massive problems all around us and don’t spend sufficient time acknowledging the victories that the Lord gives through the faithful labor of His people.

One final note.  Any group invited to participate should be well known to the host church and the organizers.  Fringe activities and organizations that come and go can cause more problems than they are worth.  Maturity of ministry is extremely important to insure an equipping ground and not an emotional roller coaster for those that attend.

Political Party Comparisons
A controversial component of any election has to do with party affiliations.  The voting statistics described in Chapter 4 show little national distinction between the total “born again” that register as a Republican or Democrat – obviously the two largest political parties in the United States.  How this can be, given the major differences in official positions of each of these parties on moral issues belie either ignorance, apathy or an outright skepticism that the positions do not represent true party commitments.  Whichever the case may be, it’s valuable to provide comparisons of party positions on those issues that evangelicals consider important.  Whether it is abortion, homosexuality, public schools, welfare, taxes, immigration, gun control, etc., each party has documented their platform for all to see.

By doing a little research on party platforms, it’s fairly straightforward to tabulate quotes and compare them side-by-side for each issue of interest.  The party platforms for presidential election years will provide the most thorough treatment on subjects ranging from local to international.  Providing the Biblical perspective on each issue allows an even more telling understanding of a party’s position.  For the platforms of third (or fourth…) parties, the same information is generally available.  However, the reader is encouraged to review Chapter 6, “Principle vs. Practical” to assess whether this is a desirable inclusion or not.

In documenting a party’s position, it’s very important to use official information releases as far as possible.  This allows a clean, referable audit trail, and removes any opponent’s potentially misleading rhetoric.  Again, just like addressing ballot measures, a credible effort needs to be expended to ensure integrity of presentation.  This includes quoting the clearest representation of a party’s stance on an issue, and doing due diligence in finding their position.  A partial example is at the end of this section.

Party positions on issues cannot be determinative of individual candidates’ views, since they may or may not adhere to their party’s official line.  However, with an absence of other, more detailed knowledge of a candidate, their party association will show where their general allegiance lies.  For local non-partisan elections, such as city or county offices, it is still important to try and determine the candidates’ views on moral issues since these offices become the springboard to seeking higher positions of authority in the future.  It should be noted that even in non-partisan elections, the political affiliation of many local candidates can be determined by calling the local major party headquarters and asking who they endorse.

Example Format for Comparison of
Major Party Platforms 9

Biblical Issue:           Sanctity of Life

Relevant Verses:           Gen 1:26a, 27; Ex 20:13; Psalm 139:13-16

Democratic Party:

  • “The Democratic Party stands behind the right of every woman to choose, consistent with Roe v. Wade, and regardless of ability to pay.  We believe it is a fundamental constitutional liberty that individual Americans – not government – can best take responsibility  for making the most difficult and intensely personal decisions regarding reproduction.  This year’s Supreme Court rulings show to us all that eliminating a woman’s right to choose is only one justice away.”
  • “We should allow stem cell research to make important new discoveries”

Republican Party:

  • “We recommit ourselves to the values that strengthen the …dignity of every human life”
  • “We oppose abortion, but our pro-life agenda does not include punitive action against women who have an abortion”
  • “…the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.  We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children…We oppose using public revenues for abortion…”

Timing of the Evening
Like so many things, timing is crucial.  The specific date(s) of the Election Pre-View Evening needs to be solidified as early as possible.  Obviously, a number of activities are required to advertise the event and ensure proper planning is completed.  A partial listing of questions needing answers is provided below to stimulate early detailed planning:

  • Will this be for one church or are other churches (or groups) going to be invited? If so, which ones and when?
  • When and how should other churches or groups be contacted to participate in planning?
  • When would an organizing committee need to begin work?
  • What night of the week is the best to gain the greatest participation?
  • How many Election Pre-View Evenings should there be?  Should they be conducted in different regions but with the same material?
  • How long before the Election should the evening be conducted? How many Sundays should there be between the Election Pre-View Evening and the election?
  • When will voter guides be available so they can be handed out?
  • When is the last day to register to vote?
  • When is the last day to vote by absentee ballot?
  • When should a voter registration table be set up at church?
  • When would a web site of all information be available?
  • When will all handout materials be printed?
  • When will firm commitments be gained for any invited organizations?  How much space will they require?
  • When should candidates be contacted?
  • How many Sundays should bulletin inserts announcing the Election Pre-View Evening be provided?
  • How often should a public announcement be made in church to advertise the evening?
  • When and how should other churches be invited to attend?
  • When should local news outlets be contacted to advertise the event?
  • When will State and local ballot measures be known?
  • How long will presenters be given to research positions on ballot measures?
  • When will dry-runs of all presentations be conducted?
  • When will the post-presentation meeting for “lessons learned” be?

The most critical portions of the Election Pre-View Evening are the presentations and handout material covering any ballot measures.  However, equipping Christians to be godly citizens shouldn’t be a single night of lectures once every two years.  Besides information tables relating to active, Christ-honoring organizations described above, and voter guides (described in Chapter 9 below) other handouts would be very appropriate.  These include:

  • URL’s of sites supportive of sound Christian positions
  • Listing of local elected officials and their contact information (address, e-mail, FAX, phone numbers, legislative or representative district)
  • Maps of legislative districts to show which ones a person resides in
  • Bibliography of recommended books to read
  • Listing of magazines and periodicals for subscription that will provide a continuing opportunity to keep informed
  • Point papers on specific issues from a Biblical worldview perspective
  • Copies of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States
  • Sign-up sheets for an e-mail distribution alert network to be set up to inform and equip Christians of events, legislation, and activities of  interest
  • Sign-up sheets for volunteers to support voter registration drives
  • Evening evaluation forms (to be turned in)
  • Participation sign-up cards to gauge interest in further direct involvement (to be turned in)

Finally, it’s very important for the organizing committee to meet soon after the event to review lessons learned.  This is a critical time to document questions like: what could be improved upon for next time, what should be retained, what comments were written on the comment sheets, what comments were overheard, what follow-up will be done with those that desire to participate further, etc.  Each time an activity like this is tried, it will become more refined, more comfortable, and more productive.  The natural inclination is to become discouraged if there is not as much enthusiasm or follow though as expected.  Remember, this is something new, and there’s a generation of isolationist thinking to be overcome.  True change will require patience, reliance upon the Lord to grant His favor, and a clear vision of what is to be accomplished.
Finally, it’s important to give a formal report to the host church and the church providing pastoral oversight (if different) of what was accomplished, lessons learned, and any follow-on activities being planned.

9 Excerpts taken from the 2000 Presidential Election Platforms &

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