An important function of a Culture Impact Ministry is to monitor legislation and to provide the pastor and congregation with information on legislation. Every ministry will determine their own issues of interest, but here are a few suggestions: life at every stage, traditional marriage and family, parental rights, religious liberty, and civil government.
At the beginning of each legislative year, it will be important to begin monitoring the types of legislation in which you have an interest. As proposed laws proceed through your state’s legislature, various hearings and votes will be held. At some point, your State Senator and/or Assembly Member will be asked to vote on the proposed law and the Governor will decide whether or not to sign the legislation. The culture impact ministry can influence the outcome of a proposed law by contacting elected officials and voicing support of, or opposition to, proposed legislation.
One method for sharing information about legislative concerns with the congregation is through an Action Alert flier. This simple tool consists of a brief description of the proposed legislation, suggests the action step(s) to take, and lists the necessary contact information for the legislators. The requested action is usually a phone call, a letter, or an in-person visit to the legislator’s office.
Action Alert fliers can legally be distributed at church. Some ministries prefer to place them on an information table for people to pick up on their own while other ministries choose to pass out the fliers as church members enter or leave the service.
The Culture Impact leader should familiarize him/herself with the legislative process at both the state and federal level. The life cycle of a proposed law varies from state to state as well as at the federal level. Your state’s official legislative website contains information about the process followed in your state. A link to the website for each state is available on the Faith and Public Policy website.
Knowing when to create an Action Alert requires much time, research, and experience. Most Culture Impact Ministry leaders find it wise to follow the advice of pro-family organizations to determine the best time to call the congregation to action. As a leader gains more experience and thoroughly understands the legislative process, he or she may wish to write the ministry’s Action Alerts him/herself using information gleaned from multiple trusted pro-family sources.
SAMPLE ACTION ALERT
An Action Alert is comprised of four main parts:
The source (organization) providing the description of the legislation
A brief description of the legislation
Action steps for the reader to follow
Legislator’s contact information
Note: A blank template for making action alerts may be found on the Faith and Public Policy website.
This sample Action Alert was created for a large church. It contains contact information for four legislators who serve the church`s surrounding area.
STEPS FOR CREATING AN ACTION ALERT
1. List the source providing the description of the legislation
Every Action Alert should provide a brief description of the legislation. As discussed above, two options are available:
Get the information from a pro-family organization
Write your own description
If you use information from an outside source be sure to give proper credit. Note that our example on the previous page cites Concerned Women for America as the source for the information.
2. Provide A Brief Description of the Legislation
Most pro-family organizations are happy to allow you to use their legislative descriptions. However, it is always wise to ask permission. Using an organization’s description is simply a matter of cutting and pasting text into your document. As mentioned above, more experienced ministry leaders may decide to write their own legislative description. Remember that this requires thorough research and a good understanding of the legislative process.
We suggest limiting your bill description to no more than three main points. This will help people remember the most important issues about the bill.
3. Request that Specific Action Steps be Taken
The Action Alert will ask the reader to take specific action steps. Normally, this will involve asking people to call, write or visit their legislator and urge him or her to vote “Yes” or “No” on a specific bill. For example, “Contact your Assembly Member and urge a ‘No’ vote on Senate Bill (SB) 48.”
Pro-family organizations sending email updates to you will often provide suggested action steps.
We have found it best to issue Action Alerts only for the most important bills. This helps to prevent the congregation from feeling overwhelmed with too many calls for action.
There are two points of view regarding the timing and frequency of calling for action on proposed legislation. Each of these approaches has pros and cons.
The first method will result in three calls to action for each piece of legislation.
In the example, we used legislation identified as SB 48. This method would initiate an Action Alert flier when SB 48 is going: 1) to a vote in the Senate, 2) to a vote in the Assembly, and 3) to the Governor for his/her signature. These actions will take place over several months during the legislative session.
Legislation at the federal level is similar. Initiate the call to action when a bill is going: 1) to a vote in the Senate, 2) to a vote in the House, and 3) to the President for a signature.
Pro: The limited number of Action Alerts will not be overwhelming to the readers.
Con: There are fewer opportunities to impact the process.
The second method may result in at least seven Action Alerts for each piece of legislation. Using this method, an Action Alert will be initiated when a bill is being voted on in each committee that hears the legislation as well as when it comes to a vote in each legislative house and when it reaches the governor for a signature. (Learn more about committees as you study the legislative process.)
Pro: Legislators who are contacted throughout the bill’s entire process, will take notice of the public`s interest
Con: People may become overwhelmed and stop responding if asked to take action seven times on one bill.
Most churches will use the first option--especially if the ministry is monitoring more than one bill per legislative year. This would result in three action alerts per bill. The second option may be too aggressive for some churches.
4. Contact Information
There are two options for providing contact information for state and federal legislators.
Provide legislators’ names and contact information on the action alert. It should include:
Legislator’s name and title
District office address
Phone and fax number
Cities within the legislative district
Email address (Optional)
Provide contact information for each legislator who represents those who live in close proximity to the church. For some churches, this may be only one legislator. For churches that draw from multiple legislative districts, information for several legislators will need to be included. This information can be obtained at your state’s official legislative website. Some research may be necessary if several districts are close to your location.
Provide a phone number for the appropriate government office that will help a citizen obtain contact information for their specific legislator based on their residence address. Use your state’s official legislative website to find the General Information phone number. Call that number to make sure they will provide legislators’ contact information to any citizen.
The federal government also provides an information phone number available for all citizens: Call 1-800-FED INFO (1-800-333-4636) for any question about Government.
When making an Action Alert, the same document may be printed on both sides of the paper. When cut in half, each sheet of paper will yield two fliers.
This Blank Sample Action Alert Template é is available on the Faith and Public Policy website. Blank sections are provided in order to allow you to easily add your own text.
It is helpful to keep your legislator`s contact information in place on one side of the sheet and simply fill in the latest action alert information on the other side as needed. This specific template is made for Assembly members. Additional templates can be prepared for Senators, the Governor, etc.
TIP: Be sure to have the flier proofread for errors.
Once your church leadership has given their approval, distribute the flier to the congregation.
You will find a partially blank Sample Blank Action Alert Template on the FPP website. The ministry logo and Assembly Member contact information is left in place and kept on file, ready to be filled with the latest action alert information. This specific template is made for Assembly members. Additional templates can be prepared for other offices, Senators, the Governor, etc.
May the Lord bless you for your efforts!
Create a Legislative Action Alert (.pdf)
Sample Action Alert Template