Challenge Your Legislators
Evangelical Christians in the United States are a powerful political force merely on account of our numbers, so when pastors, church leaders, and lay people proactively make their opinions known to elected officials, they have the potential to influence a legislator's decision-making process. Beyond political power, though, Christians–and particularly pastors–have another unique role: we are called to pray for "kings and all those in authority" (1 Tim. 2:2) (regardless of whether or not we voted for or approve of the policies of a particular legislator) and, particularly since most Members of Congress themselves profess to be Bible-believing Christians, to minister to and disciple them to be faithful followers of Christ. We ultimately want church leaders to encourage legislators to vote in favor of immigration policies that we believe are consistent with biblical values both because we care for the immigrant communities that these policies directly affect and because we legitimately care for our elected officials and want, for their own sakes, for them to do what is right and just.
Toward that end, we'd encourage you to set up a meeting and personally invite your Congressperson and/or Senators to take the "I Was a Stranger" Challenge, too, reading Scripture passages related to immigration and praying for forty days. If you're a pastor, you're probably more likely than a single layperson to be granted a meeting, and you're even more likely to get a meeting if you jointly request the meeting with other pastors from your state (for a Senator) or congressional district (for a Representative).
While you are welcome to share your opinions about the specific details of legislation with your elected official if you would like, you don't need to be a policy expert to meet with your legislator. The goal of this meeting is more pastoral than political: your only hard "ask" is: will you commit to reading Scriptures and to pray for forty days?
If you're willing to participate, here's what you need to know:
- Identify who your Representative and your two Senators are. Enter your zip code here. Your two Senators and your Representative in the House of Representatives will be listed under Congressional Officials, and if you click on their names you can find their District Office address(es) under Contact Information.
Search by Candidate's or Official's Last Name, or Enter Your ZIP Code:
- Decide whether to contact your Representative, one of your Senators, both of your Senators, or all three. You may want to do a bit of research on their views on immigration policy, and focus on those whose views might currently not be consistent with biblical values.
- Write a letter to the legislator at his or her district office address, sharing your views and requesting an in-person meeting. You can download a template letter here, filling in the appropriate information and providing a contact person for the legislator's staff to confirm a time to meet. If possible, we suggest having as many pastors and ministry leaders from the appropriate congressional district or (for a senator) state sign onto one letter to request a meeting, as it is more likely to be granted. Let us know if you're planning a visit by filling out this form, and we can let you know if there are leaders at other churches in your area who might want to work together with you.
- If you don't hear back within a week or two, you may want to call the legislator's district office, confirm that the letter was received, and remind the legislator's staff that you would very much like the opportunity to meet with the legislator the next time he or she is "in the district."
- When contacted for a meeting, bring along a bookmark and ask the legislator to join in the "I Was a Stranger" Challenge by committing to read Scripture and to pray for forty days. If appropriate, you may want to pray for the legislator there in the meeting, asking God to give him or her wisdom and courage.
- Don't forget to follow up with a note or an email thanking the legislator for their time. You may even want to schedule a follow-up meeting sometime at least forty days later to ask the legislator how participating in the Challenge affected his or her views.