Invite Your MP to church

This is a wonderful way to make contact with your MP after their being elected on the 4th July. You may like to send them a congratulations or welcome card – and this could be a great addition or follow up to that.

It gives your MP the opportunity to get to see and experience something of your church’s main gathering, but more importantly, the church can get to know their MP and lay the foundations for a positive and purposeful relationship going forward.

It is important that the church and the MP understand, this is not a campaigning or lobbying moment. Obviously, the fact that you might have a foodbank or collection point for them to see, or that you might have a notice about the progress on your Eco Church project, or that your songs/hymns/prayers reflect the heart of the God of Justice, will give them a good indication of what’s important to you as a church, but the interview itself should not, at this stage, start making “asks”. This is about understanding who your MP is, even if they’ve been your MP previously, it’s about asking them about their motivations and their particular concerns, and giving them an experience they don’t have as often as they might like – namely to be listened to, rather than spoken at.

This may not be easy, and it may be good to be explicit about this in the service; reminding the congregation, “this is not the time for us to raise the questions or concerns we may have been raising during the election, this is a time for us to listen, to learn and to understand our MP better”.

“Set the stage” for the kind of conversation you are hoping to have? Bring in a couch or a couple of comfortable chairs. Ask them in advance what they’d like to drink and have tea or coffee or a cold drink ready for that part of the service. Maybe use a handheld or radio mic to give them flexibility, rather than have them stand rigidly behind a lectern.

These are some questions you might like to consider asking (please adapt these to your context – obviously some questions will be more relevant to new MP than those you may already know something about):

  1. Tell us a little about your background. Where did you grow up? Where’s home (it’s OK to say if it isn’t in the constituency)?
  2. If you’d be happy to, tell us a little about your family and your responsibilities outside of politics?
  3. What joys and interests do you have outside of politics?
  4. What first motivated you to take an interest in politics?
  5. What issues are you personally concerned about – whether or not you believe them to be the primary concerns of your constituents?
  6. What made you become a member of the political party you are now with?
  7. What made you want to stand as an MP? And why this constituency?
  8. What do you perceive to be the most challenging issues that need addressing locally?
  9. What do you perceive to be the most challenging issues that need addressing nationally and internationally?
  10. What do you feel the church in general, or even this church specifically, has to offer those in need in this community?
  11. How do you intend to stay connected with the concerns and experiences of local residents in this area?
  12. What will you be working on in the immediate future – tomorrow, this week, this month?

Whatever you ask, try to let the conversation flow, feel free to skip questions already covered in previous answers, and dig deeper if something particularly interesting is shared. You may also like the children/young people to suggest some questions (again, avoiding campaigning questions – just ‘get to know you’ questions). The innocent questions of children, like ‘do you have any pets’, or ‘what’s your most embarrassing memory’, may add some valuable light heartedness to the whole experience, and can often lead to unexpectedly profound and personal answers. These aren’t questions designed to stump the MP, so if you want to share them with the MP in advance to reassure them of the purpose of the interview, feel free – just encourage them not to over prepare, the hope is to have a natural, flowing conversation.

Finally, assure your MP of the congregation’s thoughts and prayers, ask them (assuring them they can so no) if there’s anything they would like prayer for today, and reassure them they can get in touch anytime if there’s anything else specific, they’d like prayer for or a conversation about.

Other things to consider

You might like to offer lunch too, either with a select few from the church, or as a congregation. If they say yes, try to help a number of people chat to them and welcome them personally, but don’t be discouraged if they decline. They are, as you know, busy people who may have sacrificed personal time to be with you.

AND THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT, sign up for more information about the Constituency Action Network, to receive further resources and support as you seek to build of the relational foundations you are establishing with you MP


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