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Why Civic Engagement Belongs in Every Church's Mission Statement

Why Civic Engagement Belongs in Every Church's Mission Statement

Churches can commission their members to vocationally bless their community, says California pastor Michael Decker

Michael Decker wants to make the name of Jesus famous in Costa Mesa, California. How? By caring for his city's people, their leaders, and their place. In 1995, when he was invited by Costa Mesa's chief of police to volunteer as a police chaplain, Decker became attuned to the value—indeed the calling—of all Christians to see their civic engagement in light of the social responsibility entailed by the gospel. This involvement also became a catalyst for recognizing how largely unconnected he still was from non-Christians. "I said that I loved lost people and had a desire to be in relationship with them, but when I looked at my life, I was in relationship with very few." Since 2000, he has planted Palm Harvest Church, joined the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce, and helped birth One Church for Our City, a coalition of Costa Mesa churches whose members and leaders seek to bless their city in concrete and strategic ways. Reflecting on his journey, Decker says, "I am not on some mere career path, waiting for the 'next big thing.' Where I am serving now is the 'big thing' because here is where God dwells and I am seeking to obey the call to love what He loves where I dwell … unless God says otherwise, I am here for the long haul."

Whether we are businesspeople, parents, church leaders, civic leaders, Decker's journey and practices are an example of how churches might steward and unleash their members' vocations for the good of others.

Mike, I appreciate your story and service, especially since it so practically informs your 2011 D.Min. dissertation at Biola University's Talbot School of Theology, about "Church-Based Strategies for Civic Engagement." What can this engagement look like?

Engagement involves relationships with people affiliated with the local schools, Chamber of Commerce, Departments of Public Safety, and other agencies in one's community. These agencies are vehicles through which God's kingdom presence can be expanded.

What fuels my civic engagement is the desire to be a witness for Jesus and ambassador for him in these circles, while influencing people for righteousness.


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Displaying 1–5 of 6 comments

James Edwards

July 13, 2012  1:17pm

I am glad to see pastors of Christian churches wake up and become involved in their community - and, in America in general. The time is coming when all Christian-Americans are going to realize that becoming "politically active" is the only solution to saving this great nation. As the author of WHAT IS GOD'S GREAT PLAN? (www.whatisgodsgreatplan) the hisorical persective of Christianity shows God favors our religion. The question now is, "Does God favor America?"

cynthia curran

June 02, 2012  11:31pm

Its at the city level not the national level and Costa Mesa is a middle size town in Orange County at the most only 120,000. Anaheim and Santa Ana are the two largest over 300,000. Usually Christianity today does articles on larger cities, Costa Mesa has problems of suburbs and urban areas even if its more suburban.Population is mainly traditional white around 56 percent and hispanic around 36 percent and then asian around 7 to 8 percent and afro-american around 1 to 2 percent.

Lay person

May 30, 2012  10:09pm

Rev. Betsworth, don't say God bless you if you can but won't.

Randy Kent, pastor in Alsace, France

May 30, 2012  8:12pm

Stimulating thoughts, even for those of us in overseas ministry!

Tim Starn

May 29, 2012  10:58am

The City of Costa Mesa is a lovely place to live and work. Many of the readers might be familiar with the City's name from media reports, which have highlighted the recent internal conflicts. Like most towns, Costa Mesa has many challenges that need to be resolved. As a resident and City employee, I appreciate Mike's commitment to God and City. He truly keeps a God perspective and shares it with everyone he meets.


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