When Greg Helland established the Capitol Ministries Bible study for city hall public servants in Stockton, CA last year, it literally was an answer to Mayor Kevin Lincoln’s prayers.
In December 2020, one month after Mayor Lincoln was elected to office, CapMin ministry leader Helland asked the mayor if he would be interested in participating in a weekly Bible study with other members of his administration.
“Prior to that I had been praying that God would send me the right people, the right resources that would help ground me and see the decisions I’m required to make through the lens of a biblical worldview,” Mayor Lincoln said.
“Public office is a first for me. In every other season, I have tried to be intentional in having mentors—people I trust who advise me—and entering public office was no different. So really, this Bible study truly is an answer to prayer.”
At the age of 41, Mayor Lincoln already has had several successful careers.
He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and was just completing training at the Corps’ police academy in 2001 when the nation was rocked with one of the worst domestic attacks in our history.
Terrorists killed thousands of Americans and decimated treasured icons when they crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and an empty Pennsylvania field.
Weeks later, Mayor Lincoln was assigned to the White House Military Office and served President George Bush on the Marine One helicopter. Following four years of service, Mayor Lincoln became district manager for a private security firm in the Silicon Valley.
After that, he served as the executive administrative pastor overseeing operations and administration at a local church.
“Every one of those positions has prepared me for the season I am in right now as mayor,” he said. “Truth be told, I have the opportunity to lead and pastor a city.”
The city of Stockton has suffered years of instability in leadership. The city hasn’t had a two-term mayor in more than 20 years and every three or four years, the city manager has been replaced.
Biblically Guided Governance
“There has been a constant turnover in executive leadership,” Mayor Lincoln said. “My purpose in this season of my life is to provide leadership stability for the people of Stockton.”
And, he said, the Capitol Ministries Bible study is helping him do that.
“The Capitol Ministries Bible studies are focused on governance and governing with a biblical worldview,” Mayor Lincoln said. “Having that full perspective and understanding how to apply a biblical worldview to any situation is what I most appreciate.”
For Greg Helland, learning about the Capitol Ministries mission and Bible studies to public servants was an epiphany.
Helland is a mature Christian and successful businessman. Among other successes, he founded T.L. Creates, Inc., the world’s largest intellectual property and licensing management software company. His clients included Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, NASCAR, Turner Broadcasting, and Major League Baseball Players Association, among many others.
But Helland has always loved politics and missions. He studied political science at UCLA and spent more than 40 years personally ministering to missionaries and leading global missions for churches.
Those two first loves collided profoundly when he heard Ralph Drollinger, President and Founder of Capitol Ministries, speak about making disciples of Jesus Christ in the political arena throughout the world and the way to do that—with the Bible’s top-down missions priority of reaching public servants with the Word of God.
The Bible’s Top-Down Missions Strategy
Drollinger talked about CapMin’s Local Government Ministries (LGM) initiative to equip local churches to establish Bible study discipleship ministries to city and county public servants in their communities.
He explained the biblical mandate that is detailed in his new book, All in Authority, Reigniting the Bible’s Top-Down Missions Strategy. In the book, which will be published later this year, Drollinger shows through Old and New Testaments Scriptures that the Bible places a high priority on reaching political leaders with God’s Word.
“With a heart for discipleship, and being a political science major, I said, I must get a hold of this guy!” Helland said. The two met and Drollinger put Helland in touch with Dr. Dan DeShong, CapMin’s Director for Local Government Ministries (LGM).
Dr. DeShong explained that CapMin provides the curriculum for LGM ministry leaders–Drollinger’s book, Oaks in Office: Biblical Essays for Political Leaders (OIO).
The book contains 76 of the most pertinent studies Drollinger has written in more than 25 years in ministry to address the personal and professional needs of public servants. The in-depth studies average eight pages long; OIO contains sufficient material to be taught over five years of ministry.
Helland also learned that CapMin provides ministry leaders with support, mentorship, ongoing training in an intensely biblical proven methodology that has been meticulously honed and fire-tested over decades of ministry experience, an ongoing relationship with CapMin, and certification of the ministry leader’s proficiency. CapMin provides everything at no charge to anyone.
Fulfilling the Great Commission
After learning about CapMin’s objective to establish Bible studies to local city and county government leaders in the 40,000 incorporated communities in the United States and countless others around the world, Helland committed to leading a study.
He told Mayor Lincoln about LGM and the two took a road trip to attend Dr. DeShong’s LGM Bible study for local public servants the greater Sacramento, CA area.
The study was just what the two were hoping to find and in January 2021, Helland began teaching Bible studies from Oaks in Office every week at Stockton City Hall to Mayor Lincoln and members of his administration.
Even though he was well acquainted with the Great Commission command, Helland said he never considered public servants a mission field until he heard Drollinger speak.
“It makes perfect sense,” he said. “Public servants either make decisions based on secular thought which starts with the belief that man is good, or they make decisions based on biblical thought which starts with the fact that man is a sinner.
“Without that basic biblical worldview, public servants will fall victim to the whim of politics—anything and everything that is blown in by the wind.
“It is incumbent upon us to help public servants develop a Christian worldview as a foundation for making decisions. And, as is the case with Mayor Lincoln, also support a mature Christian public servant every week with Scripture, Bible study, prayer and friendship.”
The Church’s True Battle is for Souls
Helland talked about the LGM mission with Pastor Jon Hathorn, his long-time friend and senior pastor at Lincoln Presbyterian Church in Stockton, CA. Helland serves as the church’s Global Focus Commission Leader.
The two involved the congregation and now members of the church pray for and support the Stockton Bible study ministry.
For Pastor Hathorn, the LGM objectives brought into laser focus the primary responsibility of God’s church—the battle for souls.
“Our church struggles with something that a lot of churches do,” Pastor Hathorn said. “We place a high emphasis on big events like the Christmas program and the church-wide garage sale, and we measure success by the big numbers of people they attract.
“What is often sacrificed are the valuable individual development programs such as mentoring, discipleship, spiritual training, and spiritual growth. While we do have those programs, they are often squeezed out because we are chasing those numerical results.
“We are missing the target! True believers must push forward the need for personal transformation—of winning souls to Christ and discipling them to maturity in the faith.”
The Church and LGM
Helland and Pastor Hathorn are so energized and excited by the CapMin mission that they have committed to greater involvement with the ministry.
Helland has added the responsibilities of becoming one of six newly named CapMin Regional Directors who will work with Dr. DeShong to grow LGM in their geographical areas.
And Pastor Hathorn will be helping Helland expand LGM in northern California by presenting the CapMin mission to the local Presbytery.
“I have a very good relationship with about 12 pastors and I will encourage them to take a spiritual interest in the lives of the city and county officials in their neighborhoods,” he said.
Transformed Hearts—the Target!
“Our goal as Christians should not be to change the minds of public servants on every little issue. Our goal should be to create disciples of Jesus Christ,” Pastor Hathorn said. “We need to give them a biblical framework so they know how to make good decisions in the first place.”
“They need to understand that they need God’s grace, that God’s transforming power will make them a new and different person. And when that happens, their focus will be completely changed.
“Romans 12:1-2 tells us, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
“With a transformed mind and a transformed heart, the world will not be able to squeeze us into its mold.”
“We have been missing the heart of the target.”
“Any issue, no matter how important, is secondary compared to the public servant’s soul, his heart change, and desire to love the Lord his God with all his heart, mind, and soul. Everything else is secondary to that.”
Casting a Worldwide Vision
Drollinger is elated that Mayor Lincoln, Helland, and Pastor Hathorn have embraced this vision.
“This ministry partnership TO THE TEE serves as a personified illustration of everything CapMin desires to do with its LGM initiative,” Drollinger said.
“I believe there are thousands of ‘Mayor Lincolns’ across our nation and around the world who are just waiting to have a solid Bible teacher in their midst—a personal friend, confidant, and rudder to help them in their very difficult jobs!
“Here at CapMin we hope to foster those efforts by serving the local church in a way that eliminates barriers of entry in their biblically mandated mission to public servant campuses, aka, “all who are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:2).
“Churches already have a vision for reaching high school and college students and already have created ministries on educational campuses. But very few have recognized the dire need for them to plant ministries on public servant campuses.
“There are thousands of Mayor Lincolns out there who are just waiting for biblically solid local churches to help them grow in their personal relationship with Christ via serious, pertinent weekly Bible studies.
“This whole story serves to perfectly exemplify all the aspects of what we desire to see God accomplish both nationally and internationally in fulfilling the Great Commission beginning, as the Bible directs, with the most influential people in the world.
“Political leaders shape society through their decisions and policies and they have the ability to influence so many others for Christ.”
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Pray for Mayor Kevin Lincoln | Stockton, California.