Chuck Garriott ministers to government officials,and his days are as busy as theirs. When not leading a Bible study at the Department of State, he’s grabbing coffee with a White House staffer or meeting with legislators on Capitol Hill. We spent a few minutes chatting with Garriott about how God is using the PCA’s Ministry to State to change lives in seats of power across the globe.
What’s the history behind Ministry to State?
I served as senior pastor at Heritage Presbyterian in Oklahoma City for about 20 years. During the mid-1990s one of my elders, who was also the Oklahoma assistant attorney general, asked me to help lead a Bible study at the state capitol. Over the next few years, the ministry began to develop, and before long we were leading a Bible study for 50 to 70 legislators and staffers in the governor’s office. In 2003, we began praying about developing this into something larger. Not long after, I headed to Washington, D.C., to establish a ministry that would reach out to government leaders in international, national, and state capitals. In 2005, Ministry to State came under the umbrella of Ministry to North America (MNA).
Why does the PCA need this kind of ministry?
If you look at the PCA, we’re strategically located in 35 state capitals. We also have an international presence through Mission to the World in places such as Cape Town, South Africa, and Sofia, Bulgaria. We think it’s important for churches to play an active role in reaching out to government leaders, not as a parachurch organization but simply as an extension of the church in the world.
What has surprised you as you minister to government leaders?
There’s clearly the mindset that everything in Washington is very political, but the reality is that the political and government environment is made up of real people. When people I’m meeting with realize that I’m not there with a political agenda, but that I’m there for them as a person, it opens up all kinds of doors. Most of the conversations I have are not going to be about whatever bill is in the Senate, but about real life struggles — family, children, marriages. My desire is for someone to know what it looks like for Christ to be pre-eminent in their life.
How can the church better serve those in government?
There needs to be a different paradigm used when we as individual Christians or as a church function in society. Yes, it’s important to be concerned about political issues, but it’s perhaps more important to be concerned about our political leaders as people. I would like to see the church go beyond the political and understand the importance of the person. Consider having a relationship with someone who is elected. Pray for your leaders. Even if we don’t like those who are currently in office, we are called to pray for them. What God is doing is more important than what I would like to see happen on Capitol Hill.