by Chuck Lawless
If you’ve been paying attention to the recent news, you know that the police have been at the center of often difficult and sometimes controversial situations. Regardless of your opinions of some of the actions of police over the past week, we have an opportunity to minister to the vast number of great police officers who support us. Here are some ways your church might do so:
1. Find a church member or couple to head up a unique ministry to the police.Ideally, look for someone who has had experience on a police force. If your church doesn’t have that person, invite others to pray about leading the ministry.
2. Learn from officers in your congregation. Talk to them. Listen to them. Learn about their pressures. Ask how you can pray for them. Invite them to share their burdens with a small group or the entire church. Send them out as your church’s ambassadors to the community.
3. Pray for officers—and let them know you are. God has ordained governing authorities to help keep order, and we need to pray for those who guard our safety (Rom 13:1, 1 Tim 2:1-3). If your church develops such a ministry, though, make sure your local police know of your prayer support. Build relationships as you pray.
4. Train your members to pray when they hear a siren. The sound of a siren almost always means somebody needs help, and that others are rushing there to provide that help. Use the opportunity to pray for all the parties, including the police.
5. Get to know the local police chaplain. Many departments have a volunteer chaplain who can serve as a liaison between your church and the local department. Developing a relationship with him or her will benefit your ministry to the officers.
6. Honor officers in a worship service. Take the time to affirm them and pray for them. Invite the whole force, and trust God to burden some to attend. Everyone will benefit from their presence.
7. Reach out and minister to the local police station. I’ve known churches that provided free meals, washed vehicles and wrote “thank you” letters. Work with the local chaplain to find out what needs are apparent.
8. Sponsor a “Parents Night Out” for officers. Make it easier for couples that live under daily stress to have time together. Provide the best, safest childcare possible.
9. Adopt a police officer. Again working with the chaplain, your family can adopt an officer to pray for, send notes to, get to know and love in Christ. Connecting with his or her family will also spread your witness and your influence.
10. Share the gospel with police you know. After all, the gospel is the answer to everything.
Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on Twitter @Clawlessjr and on at facebook.com/CLawless.