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Trail Notes

Experiences of a lifetime

On Tuesday we elected a new president and I had one of those “experiences of a lifetime.” Our oldest son, Ben (that’s his grownup name, we used to call him BJ), served as the Field Director for the Bush/Cheney ticket in several counties in the Florida panhandle. He had asked me earlier this summer if I would come over and help him in the final hours of the campaign as a volunteer. I was happy to have the invitation to spend some meaningful time with him and see a presidential race from the inside.

I watched and participated in amazement as we marshaled phone banks, volunteers to walk neighborhoods, and sign wavers to get out the vote for President Bush. We monitored how the voting was going at two dozen polling places and maneuvered our campaign assets to new locations to turn up the heat on would-be voters. Our efforts were a part of a massive “ground game” designed to get out the vote for the president. The Republicans call this the “72 Hour Program” and it is designed to personally touch as many registered voters as possible and encourage them to go to the polls. At the end of the day, when the last ballot was cast, Okaloosa County (Ben’s responsibility) had the highest voter turnout in Florida—85%. As you can imagine, I was especially proud of my son. And I told him so.

One of the most engaging aspects of my visit was spending time with Sally Atwater. She is the wife of papa Bush’s 1988 Campaign Director, Lee Atwater, who died tragically from a brain tumor twelve years ago. No surprises, Sally had a lot of great stories to tell. One thing she said stuck with me. She recounted how in the nineties the Republican Party had gotten enamored with technology and the media and had gone away from personal touches. You may recall the outcome of that strategy. In 2000 and 2004, the Republican Party leaders returned the focus of their efforts to the personal touches of real people. They rediscovered that you win an election one vote at a time.

As I think about Sally’s comments, it reminds me that the same principle is true in what we do. People’s lives are changed by the love of God one life at a time. We can use mail outs, place ads in the newspaper, and construct a flashy website. But, there is no substitute for befriending the folks that God brings into our lives, building a genuine relationship with them, and at the appropriate time inviting them to experience His love with us at Preston Trail. It’s rather ironic don’t you think, that you build a church the same way you win an election—one person at a time.

With that in mind, let me encourage you to invite someone to join you at Preston Trail this Sunday. We’ll be introducing a brand new value in Dude Ranch and Paul Basden will bring a message entitled, The Truth About the Church: Inventions and Intentions. See you there!