A new partnership has birthed two discipleship Bible study ministries in the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison — one for Senators, Representatives, and Constitutional Officers that will begin early next year, and a separate one for their staffs that is already up and running.
Until this partnership, Rep. Paul Tittl has juggled two extremely demanding roles. While managing the arduous Lawmaker’s schedule, he has also been preparing weekly Bible studies and leading them in his office for fellow Legislators. Rep. Tittl created the Bible study three years ago shortly after he was elected and learned that one did not exist in the Capitol for Lawmakers.
“I am so excited about the partnership with Capitol Ministries and our local High Point Church here in Madison,” Rep. Tittl said. “There is some great work to be done in the Capitol Building.”
High Point Church’s Senior Pastor, Nic Gibson, will lead the studies with the assistance of Director of Outreach Services, Mike Beresford, and Workplace and Politics Intern Joanna Schroeder.
“We have been so blessed by the help and encouragement of Rep. Tittl, his Chief of Staff, Steve Hall, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Governor Scott Walker during this long process of founding a substantive disciple-making ministry in the State Capitol of Wisconsin,” said Ralph Drollinger, President and Founder of Capitol Ministries.
“Nic and Mike make for a greatly talented team — spiritually gifted individuals who have the tool kit necessary for the task.”
High Point Church has a strong outreach vision, and when Beresford moved from Colorado to join the staff last year, he planned to have ministries to the business and political communities. Beresford had previously worked for 11 years with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association developing new ministries.
Objective met opportunity when Beresford and Gibson separately received an inquiry from Drollinger about planting a ministry to the Legislature.
“I saved the Capitol Ministries inquiry for Mike and when he got here we realized that we both wanted to have a ministry in that building and it became something we can do now,” Gibson said.
“I feel so much compassion for Legislators. I think about the different directions they are pulled, the demands on their time, the difficulties of their calling, the ease of sliding into corruption, all the moral gut checks they have to make through the day, and the risks they have to take in balancing opinion with integrity.
“I want to influence the influencers for Jesus, that is very important, but at the same time, these people need to be blessed by someone who doesn’t want anything from them, and they need to know I don’t hate you if you don’t agree with something I am about to say right now.”
In a meeting that Drollinger arranged with his long-time friend, Rep. Tittl, Beresford, and Gibson, the partnership was forged.
“I am very impressed with Capitol Ministries; if I wasn’t impressed, I wouldn’t join them,” Beresford said. “There are a lot of opportunities out there, but there is not always a lot of integrity. From what I have seen and in talking with others, there is integrity there, the love for God’s Word is definitely there, Ralph and Danielle are people you want to be associated with.”
In June, Gibson and Beresford began a ministry open to all staff at the Capitol, which had long been a goal of Rep. Tittl’s.
“When I sent the first email about the Bible study for Legislators, I had more staff response than I did Legislators, so I knew there was a strong need out there,” Rep. Tittl said. “This has been on my heart for three years now.”
Some 11 people from all political parties attended, and one person brought a non-Christian friend. Gibson is teaching the book of Luke which includes the Gospel, and interaction with Jesus, but also offers references about caring for the poor that he hopes will appeal to people of a variety of political persuasions as well as faiths.
The ministry to Legislators will begin in January and instead of leading it as he has since 2013, Rep. Tittl will be the Legislative sponsor and host.
“Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase,” Rep. Tittl said. “This is going to be a great partnership. I think the heart of Capitol Ministries is my heart as well, that is reaching people for Jesus Christ.”
Gibson plans to lead an exegetical study, going through one book of the Bible at a time, verse by verse. He also plans to distribute The Members Bible Studies that Drollinger leads weekly in Washington, D.C. to U.S. Senators and Representatives.
“Nic has the ability to undress ideology and rebuild it with Jesus in the center; he is gifted with that,” Beresford said. “And we will also provide Ralph’s studies because the material is excellent. We have been very impressed not only with the content, but also with the layout and presentation.”
Rep. Tittl’s Bible study, which has taken a break due to re-election campaigns, ramped up this year with 11 Legislators attending, including two Democrats and one Jewish Lawmaker.
“Legislators need an in-depth Bible study,” Rep. Tittl said. “The laws we are writing should be written in accord with what God’s Word says. All of us, whether we agree or not, need guidance from above. We don’t have the answers, but I do know somebody who does, that is God.
“I am very thankful that Capitol Ministries and High Point Church are investing in Wisconsin. It is my home state and I love it and I want people now more than ever to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.”