Every church leader I’ve met wants to make a real, meaningful difference in his or her community, and we (at BCI) are focusing our resources on helping churches do just that. With that in mind, I have to point out that the “Big C” Church seems to be taking a less than holistic approach to community impact.
Here are two important questions: “Are we truly being good neighbors if we send out invitations to our churches but do little to solve the biggest problems in our communities?” and “Are we truly being good neighbors if we feed the poor [or insert other community problem] but do little to change the policies that created poverty [or other community problem] in the first place?” Simply put, I am encouraging church leaders to rethink the connection between the Gospel and public life. In a society that is increasingly affected by laws and regulations, our efforts to impact our communities will be stifled if we categorically ignore government policy. That said, I am also not calling for a new campaign in the culture war. What if there was a third way? What if, instead of disengaging from public life or relentlessly defending our Christian subculture no matter the ministry cost, Christians engaged in public life to be a “redemptive force in politics”? That could be a game changer.
Meet Senator John Crane, a statesman that is doing just that. Senator Crane represents Indiana Senate District 24 (one of the fastest growing areas in the state, covering Putnam and Hendricks counties). In addition to being a state senator, Senator Crane is a former pastor, a teaching leader at Kingsway Christian Church in Avon, Indiana, and the founder and CEO of the Sagamore Leadership Initiative (a ministry that equips Christian students to live out their faith and make a key difference in their sphere of influence). Senator Crane is also an adjunct professor at Grace College in Indianapolis and leads the Hoosier Leadership Series, which is put on by the Indiana Family Institute (I went through this program and found it extremely helpful).
In this interview, Senator Crane and I discussed the following:
- His call to public life.
- His current responsibilities as a state senator and how he accomplishes his goal of being a “redemptive force in politics” (his words).
- The connection between the Gospel and public life.
- Senator Crane tells a number of fascinating stories about political events (including a public debate at a local college) that turned into ministry opportunities.
- Statement: “I want to be the kindest person in the room, but I also want to be the sharpest.” Love his commitment to Christ but also his dedication to excellence in his profession!
- Senator Crane co-leads a large class at his church that covers topics relevant to the Gospel and public life. This is a great idea, and it has apparently drawn a large, inter-generational audience at Kingsway!
- “Don’t be a Biblical bobblehead,” referring to Christians that have their heads filled with knowledge but do little with it!
- In the Sagamore Leadership Initiative, his focus is on “educating to action.”
- On of his campaign slogans was “courage when it counts,” and he falls back on this promise during tough days.
- He chose the following committees in an effort to maximize his impact: Education and Career Development, Elections, Family and Children Services and Pensions and Labor.
- His billboard thought: “Engagement is not an option!”