Church and Terrorism: Learning from Policy-Influencers in D.C.


Cliff May Fox NewsWhile in Washington D.C. last week, I was privileged to sit down with former NY Times Journalist, Cliff May, current president of Foundation for Defense of Democracies.  FDD is a non-profit that provides research to D.C. policy makers “focusing on terrorism and the ideologies that drive terrorism.”  During my conversation with Cliff, I picked up a few takeaways that I felt were applicable to local church leaders.

1. There is a difference to be made through your voice.

When it comes to an issue like terrorism one would think the solutions are clear in a post-9/11 world.  Cliff explained that some policy makers accept acts of terror because they sympathize with a groups voiced grievances.  The sobering voice of FDD attempts to remind policymakers that there is never a reason to kill innocent life regardless of a groups purported grievances.

With so much suffering in the world, one would think it’s obvious why communities need churches. But its easy for people to accept the suffering in their community because they sympathize with the injustices of life.  It’s the job of local church leaders to remind people there is never a reason to live comfortably with the detriment of suffering in their community.  Churches exist to offer people freedom from the brokenness of sin through a relationship with God.

2. Even in a place full of voices, your distinct voice is needed.

Washington D.C. is a city filled with policy-influencing institutions.  It would be easy to assume that an organization has always existed in D.C. to produce research for the defense of democracy.  That assumption would be wrong.  When FDD began a week after 9/11 no other non-profit was offering policy-makers valuable research to defend democracy.

Most towns and cities have plenty of churches and its easy for a pastor to assume there is nothing distinctive for her church to offer. But that assumption is not true.  If it were then the community would no longer struggle with sin and suffering.  The best way for local church leaders to offer distinctive ministry, is to ask God what he is wanting to provide the community and how can the church become a part of what He is doing?  WARNING: God may want you to partner with others rather than re-create what others are already doing.

3. Become a respectable and trusted source.

I asked Cliff, “Does FDD push their research on policy-makers?”  He said, “FDD does not lobby.” Instead policy makers ask for FDD’s research because it is valued and trusted.

Churches are not lobbying for God.  Lobbyists work for their own best interest or the best interest of their client.  God does not need the church to look out for His best interest.  In fact, he modeled for the church how to lay aside your best interest.  The local church should be a trusted source for God.  People in the community should see the church as a place to truly find God and not “God’s Lobbyists”.

Join the conversation and leave your thoughts in a comment.

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