JEFFERSON CITY – It’s not uncommon to see citizens strolling up and down the halls of the Capitol, seeking to have an influence on lawmakers. Though there’s nothing wrong with lobbying or urging those in power to make God-honoring decisions, Matt Goodsell isn’t here to play politics.
The senior pastor of Ashland Baptist Church, Goodsell has made the Missouri Capitol his mission field, building relationships one-by-one and lovingly reminding legislators and their staffs there is a higher authority than themselves.
Goodsell began with Capitol Ministries as the Missouri state director this past June. The ministry seeks to place missionaries in seats of government across the nation, providing Bible studies, and an evangelistic voice irrespective of politics.
Since most lawmakers don’t spend all their time in Jefferson City while the legislature is not in session, Goodsell has spent his time since June building relationships with and ministering to legislative assistants. He launched a Bible for the assistants in September, beginning “in the beginning” with Genesis 1:1. He’s slowly been cultivating relationships with representatives and senators, and will be launching a Bible study for House members starting this session.
“The way the Capitol works is that you have insiders and outsiders,” he said. “I’m the outsider who’s coming into the building to bring God’s Word, but I’ve got at least four insiders (legislative assistants) who have helped me get organized, get information and introduce me to other assistants to invite to the study.”
Around 20 of those assistants have been attending the weekly Bible studies since last fall, and Goodsell hopes to build on that even through the busy and hectic legislative session when they and their bosses are being pulled in every direction and when party politics can boil over.
Beginning with the lawmakers’ assistants has been a key to getting his foot in the door with the gospel, Goodsell said.
“They’re just as much in need of Jesus as anybody else,” he said. “They need biblical teaching, and they are gatekeepers of the office. So if you want to be introduced to a representative that you don’t know, then having an assistant who understands who you are and what you’re about gives me an opportunity to continue to build on this ministry.”
Goodsell said he’s looking forward to the possibility of a Bible study with senators at some point.
There’s a bit of a novelty in Goodsell, and not just because he’s building relationships without wanting anything in return. A native of Australia, his Aussie accent stands out in the Jefferson City halls full of Missouri drawls.
“They get used to it,” he said. “It’s a novel idea to begin with, but I think as we get into the study, what’s key is the reality that we’re in the Bible, we’re looking at the original languages when appropriate, and you are really challenging people where they’re at and as they walk with the Lord.”
For more information about Capitol Ministries and Goodsell, go to www.capmin.org.