Leadership: Observation and Reconnaissance
The burning question which seems to be the concern of those who seriously want to change the culture God-ward is, “Where do I begin?” What initial steps does one take so as to move the culture in the direction of Righteousness? Is there a play-book of strategies and tactics that one can use in a systematic fashion to arrive at that goal? Before I give an answer, we must remember that the culture is about people. Human society is not to be assessed in a vacuum as some non-human entity but rather as a living organism which is made up of human beings created in the image of God albeit fallen in Adam. Simply put, we must begin with people.
The Scope of Reconstruction
While the Christian wants to see the realization of the Kingdom of God’s Righteousness span the entire globe he must remember that this only can happen from the ground upward. Little by little the kingdom is advanced. The world cannot be changed overnight nor can it be changed without changing the common folk at the community level. The task of the saint is re-education by using God’s Biblical principles in order to change the hearts and minds of the populace. It is a bottom up, grass roots, individual effort and it relies upon the faithful dispensing of the Word of God and its practical application to real issues. Let me hasten to say that this does not, in any way, deny that God must intervene if real change is to take effect. What I am saying is we must begin at the local level and move outward and upward. Initially, our scope must be local.
In order to rightly and effectively engage people you need to observe them. Know your target. Know those who you are interacting with every day in the market place. Observe them. Take an account of where they live, what kind of house they own or rent, whether it is an expensive house or a modest one. Perhaps they are in an impoverished area. Perhaps they drive a new vehicle or maybe it is a broken down piece of junk. Know your audience. Are they married? Do they have a family? Are they well educated? Are they white collar professionals or blue collar working folks. You cannot address a person expecting to criticize their theological presuppositions out of the blue without any relationship whatsoever in complete ignorance of their life’s situation without coming off as a complete arrogant brute. You must take your time to know those who live and work in your community, and you must be honestly concerned with their well being.
Even if you are not a pastor you must initially approach everyone with an honest concern for their well being. It is only when you have absolutely determined that the individual or individuals is hostile to the God of Scripture should you have nothing to do with them. If you are not honestly concerned about others it will eventually become obvious and you will never be able to shed the label of “deceiver and hypocrite”.
Interaction: Get to know your neighbors
After careful observation begin to interact with your neighbors. Everyone is dissatisfied with one thing or another in the community. Find out what it is through personal interaction. This will give you an opportunity to show them first-hand that you are an individual of virtuous integrity in possession of real answers to real problems. It will also give you a chance to discuss the affairs of life from a sober and well thought-out point of view. This will open up opportunities to discuss some of the deeper issues of life such as politics, economics, philosophy and especially theology and the Law of God. Learn to initiate discussion. Depending on the situation, and the person, you can use either subtlety or boldness when seeking to stimulate conversation.
Another tactic which has proven to be very effective is initiating conversation and discussion with the local merchants of your community. Establish a consistency of patronage. As you patronize the local vendors be sure they get to know you. Know their names and make sure they know yours. From time to time ask how their business is and inquire as to the well being of their family. Remember these are people who make up the life of the culture that you are seeking to conform to the image of God. By discussing everyday matters, yet potentially important topics to the individual, you are establishing a report with the people who are the core group of your community.
Most people simply want to live fruitful and peaceful lives. Most are family oriented. Many are simple folk. All of them deal with sin which brings them face to face with a myriad of problems. Many are ignorant of what is going on within them and around them and are unable to assess the societal situation from a theological vantage point. That is what you must do. Once you establish a relationship with the people in your community you can incrementally being to express your Christ-o-centric world and life view as it concerns the issues that affect them most.
The increase of taxes is always a good place to start. People know the government is stealing by abusing the laws of taxation but they do not know how to remedy it. That is where you can begin to “stir the pot.” If you do nothing else, get people to think outside their humanistic box and point them to the Righteous solutions of Scripture.
Know your magistrates
Getting familiar with the common folk is essential but it is not enough. You must know your enemy. Usually the enemy lies within the seat of power either locally, state-wide or in the halls of the Federal establishment. Whether they are enemies of the Word of God consciously or subconsciously, if their public policies do not conform to Scripture they are to be considered rebels to the Crown of Christ and potential, if not already, tyrants over the people. These must be confronted. But the confrontation must be unemotional, carefully calculated and executed with great cunning and timing.
Open displeasure of public policy, either in written or verbal form in the public square is important. Letters to the editor, tracts and pamphlets can be useful. Invite your neighbors over for coffee or meet them at the local coffee house or pub to discuss these issues. Get others to write and voice their displeasure over unjust laws. Bring them to the county meetings. Stand with them in solidarity even if you disagree on other issues stand on the one you agree upon. This is especially a good tactic since each person represents a vote for or against the legislator. Establish your leadership potential. Cause them to look to you as the organizing factor for God Glorifying Reconstruction.
Attending public meetings while the magistrates discuss policy is only one aspect of intelligence gathering. There are many other committee meetings that take place where there is usually no oversight by outsiders yet is fully open to the public. When there is no visible observation some of these committees can metastasize into tyrannical entities especially zoning, budget and school board committees. These need to be held accountable to the people according to God’s Word.
Another tactic is to become a county or city committee member. Every town, city and county also have a number of committees that meet each month. Some are policy committee while some are social committee meetings that deal with festivals and other special events. Choose one that you have a passion for and some expertise in. Your motive must be to add your God given talents to your community through community service. This gives you greater opportunities to interact with your neighbors and community leaders. Remember you want the best for the community. This can only be done by honoring God in their decisions. That is where you can help.
Never underestimate the importance of studying God’s word. It is essential that you know what you are talking about when you open your mouth. You must have a consistent world view which is theologically sound and comprehensive in scope. A detailed reading list should be followed each year to bolster your knowledge. If you decide that you know all that you need to know, and you are now “God’s gift” to your community, do all of Christendom a favor and move to Siberia. Constant study is essential for God-glorifying change. Without Biblical understanding and wisdom you will simply be part of the problem rather than a champion of the solution.
All of this takes time and it should since we need to be very calculated in our strategies and tactics. It takes time to forge deep relationships. It takes time to convince people you care since caring is expressed in real action over time in a variety of situations. Begin today, but do not rush the results. Results will be slow coming and few but they will come over time by a faithful consistency of action.