Bob talks midterm elections with MSNBC

The FAMiLY LEADER President and CEO Bob Vander Plaats appeared on MSNBC with host Craig Melvin on Wednesday, Oct. 10, to talk about President Donald Trump’s rally appearance in Council Bluffs, Iowa, the evening before:

The FAMiLY LEADER works to inspire the Church to engage with government for the advance of God’s Kingdom (and not any person or political party). To that end, TFL has created Honoring God 2018, a non-partisan initiative that equips pastors and church leaders to encourage their congregations to engage in the 2018 Election. As Americans, we have been given the gift of self-government, of choosing our leaders, and like any gift, we have a responsibility to use it for the glory of God.

Learn more about Honoring God 2018 by clicking here now!

Pastor Equipping Webinar: Election 2018

The FAMiLY LEADER Vice President of Church Engagement Greg Baker introduces a new initiative of TFL’s Church Ambassador Network: webinars for pastors!

In this introductory webinar, Greg specifically discusses nonpartisan materials pastors can use with their churches leading up to the Election Day on Nov. 6:

Learn more about Honoring God 2018 by clicking here now!

Bob on CNN: Take politics out of it, let’s get to the truth

On Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, Bob Vander Plaats was in New York City on the set of CNN’s prime time show Out Front to talk about the Senate’s investigation into allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. But while the show’s other guest immediately pressed to score political points, Bob challenged CNN and all America to a higher standard – to seek the truth instead of partisan advantage:

In today’s hyperpartisan culture, The FAMiLY LEADER stands uniquely as a voice of faithfulness to a higher Kingdom. Please join us in advocating civil dialogue and a biblical worldview by giving to the ministry of The FAMiLY LEADER today.

The best Family Leadership Summit yet?

A full ball room, standing ovations, major announcements, powerful breakout sessions – is it any wonder some have said the 2018 Family Leadership Summit may have been the best Summit yet?

“This was the most focused and powerful and important Summit,” affirmed one attendee. “Thank you!”

The Family Leadership Summit is a day for encouraging and equipping the Body of Christ for cultural transformation. And every year, Summit attendees tell us, “Being there is a powerful reminder and reassurance that I’m not alone. It’s so encouraging to join so many people, right here in the Midwest, who have a heart for God and a heart for revival in America.”

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The 2018 Summit was held Friday, Sept. 14, in the grand ballroom of the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center (a.k.a. “Vets Auditorium”) in downtown Des Moines. The Summit included a stirring call to biblically transform the culture from Pastor and former Southern Baptist Convention President Jack Graham, an update on the status of religious liberty in the U.S. from Alliance Defending Freedom President Michael Farris, a reminder of America’s unique role in defending Israel by Christians United for Israel’s Lyndon Allen, and several other inspiring speakers.

Watch an exclusive, behind-the-scenes interview with Lyndon Allen on why Christians need to support Israel and what’s coming next in Israel’s fight for continued existence:

The breakout sessions included discussions on life legislation in Iowa, a biblical perspective on poverty, learning to overcome the barriers in talking to today’s youth, and more.

But the 2018 Summit also included some “firsts” for the annual FAMiLY LEADER event. In honor of the “Heartbeat Bill” passing into law, a measure that could save over 3,000 babies from abortion in Iowa each year, the Summit recognized on stage leaders from the Iowa Legislature and the Coalition of Pro-Life Leaders who worked to see “Heartbeat” pass. TFL family advocates Chuck Hurley and Danny Carroll held their own grandchildren on stage to illustrate why we work to save lives. And Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, a national leader in electing pro-life officials, announced that SBA List and The FAMiLY LEADER would partner in a six-digit campaign of targeted intervention to support Iowa’s pro-life governor, Kim Reynolds.

Watch an exclusive, behind-the-scenes interview with Marjorie Dannenfelser on the impact Iowa’s “Heartbeat” law has had on the national pro-life scene:

The 2018 Family Leadership Summit also brought another first: the announcement of a growing partnership of states that are working to incorporate TFL’s model of engaging with government. Dubbed “The Daniel Initiative,” TFL is partnering with several states to develop a grassroots, gospel-centered, prayer-anchored approach to inspiring the Church toward cultural transformation.

TFL’s model of inspiring the Church to engage in cultural transformation first, and only then on impacting elections and influencing policy (rather than a policy-first approach), has yielded results in Iowa that the rest of the nation has stood up and recognized. Now, through The Daniel Initiative, TFL is working to strengthen and partner with other state organizations to build a state-by-state movement of the Church engaging biblically and authentically with government in a way that advances not political kingdoms, but the Kingdom of God.

At the 2018 Summit, leaders of partner state organizations in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Minnesota joined TFL’s Bob Vander Plaats on stage, each affirming “The Daniel Initiative” is nothing short of an answer to prayer. A right strategy coming at just the right time, the state leaders said, The Daniel Initiative could give the voice of the Church a long-missing megaphone in the struggle for the soul of America.

180918 Daniel panel

Great speakers and great content, however, are only one part of what makes The Family Leadership Summit so unique. At the heart of it all is the experience – the prayer that goes into it, the people you meet, the encouraging conversations, and the atmosphere of being with others who want to see the Church awakened and re-energized in our nation, not for the sake of partisanship or politics, but for authentic, biblical impact on the nation our children and grandchildren inherit.

The Summit is principle over politics. It’s seeking a revived America that honors God and blesses people. And it’s an event you don’t want to miss!

Continue watching The FAMiLY LEADER’s social media, website, and emails for more video and inspiring content from the 2018 Summit!

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Iowa churches light the way after devastating storm

by Daniel Sunne

On Thursday, July 19, a tornado ripped through Marshalltown with wind speeds reaching 144 miles per hour. Over 700 homes were damaged, and around 90 of them were destroyed. The Courthouse clock tower was toppled, and the main hospital, City Hall, police station, and veterans’ home all received extensive damage.

Pastor Dave Martin was in his church, Faith Assembly of God, with around 15 others preparing for a block party when the tornado hit.

“The tornado just missed us by a half a block,” Martin told The FAMiLY LEADER. “We were just a block and a half from the real bad stuff.”

It was immediately apparent the town had been devastated. Seven or eight families from Faith were affected by the tornado.

Marshalltown tower

The next morning after the storm, churches considered the damage and went to work. Pastor Kerry Jech with New Hope Christian Church described meeting with church staff Friday morning: “They were all out there cleaning, all of our staff just pitched in. We divided up into teams and just went out.”

Before there was even time for a coordinated plan, churches and volunteers were cleaning up debris and carrying hope into Marshalltown. New Hope Christian Church had 25-75 volunteers a day for 10 days divided into groups cleaning up the city.

Disaster relief organizations responded quickly, including Christian organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, the Salvation Army, and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. Many operated out of churches and with church help. Faith Assembly of God hosted Convoy of Hope, which brought in two semi loads of emergency relief supplies, including water and food as well as often forgotten necessities like diapers and cleaning supplies. And churches came or sent volunteers too, from Waterloo, Reinbeck, Des Moines, and even Nebraska and Missouri.

As organizations conquered clean up, churches tackled other community needs, such as meals for those affected by the storm. Faith Assembly of God served over 8,000 meals in 10 days, and First Presbyterian Church served hundreds of meals every evening for three weeks. Pastor Martin’s church gave away quarters at the laundromat, so those without power or in shelters could take comfort in clean clothes. His church paid for $1,000 of laundry.

Iowa State Rep. Mark Smith from Marshalltown wrote in a statement, “The light of the faith community was certainly shining brightly after this disaster. Churches offered refuge, provided meals, ensured the people in the community were safe, and turned out in mass to help with the clean-up. The efforts are continuing: Trinity Lutheran has provided space for the Mid-Iowa Community Action Agency (MICA) to distribute emergency funds, First Presbyterian offered meals, and Central Christian Church is becoming a Week of Compassion Church that will bring in teams to repair during the coming months. Second Baptist continued to hold services in their badly damaged church so that members continued to have the security of their worship center. The Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Disaster Relief efforts arrived in town very quickly and helped so many. The Salvation Army responded as they do so often and provided services even though they, too, were victims of the storm. These are just a few of the efforts that have occurred in our community. I am so very thankful for all the efforts of our faith community!”

Rebuilding Marshalltown remains an immense task, but in clean-up and in the disaster itself, God’s hand was visible.

“The entire thing, God was in the process,” said Pastor Jech. “To have the kind of weather that we did [during clean-up after the tornado], to have the people cooperating … it goes back to what Joseph said to his brothers: ‘That which you intended for evil, God used for good.'”

PLUS: Watch the story of the man who received salvation in Christ through the storm in Marshalltown!

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The 2018 Family Leadership Summit has concluded!

Even if you had to miss the Summit this year, you can still follow along through social media with the hashtag #FLS18 or by tuning in to The FAMiLY LEADER’s social media sites.

Check out the most up-to-date moments from the Summit on Twitter:

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Discuss key speeches and moments from the Summit on Facebook:

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Enjoy photos and fun moments from the Summit on Instagram:

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And make sure you follow The FAMiLY LEADER on each of these social media platforms!

The annual Family Leadership Summit brings to the Midwest prominent, national leaders from a variety of fields, including government. The Summit encourages and challenges Christians to engage in Christ-centered cultural transformation that “thinks bigger” than politics and elections to impact not just government, but also churches, families, and individual lives.

This year’s speakers included Michael Farris, Dr. Jack Graham, Marjorie Dannenfelser, Gary Bauer, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Bob Vander Plaats, and more.

In the coming days, additional news and video from the Summit will be posted on The FAMiLY LEADER website and promoted through social media and email. Make sure you sign up to receive email from The FAMiLY LEADER so you don’t miss out!

Grassley to be honored at Family Leadership Summit

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley will not only be one of the speakers, but he will also be honored with The FAMiLY LEADER President’s Wilberforce Award at the 2018 Family Leadership Summit on Friday, Sept. 14, in Des Moines.

Get your tickets to the 2018 Family Leadership Summit by clicking here.

The President’s Wilberforce Award is named after William Wilberforce, the 18th century Englishman who worked for decades as a Member of Parliament to abolish the British slave trade. The award recognizes individuals who have shown similar dedication and long service to the family.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley is a lifelong family farmer and has served as Iowa’s elected U.S. senator since 1970. At the U.S. Senate, Grassley serves on several key committees, including Finance, Budget, Agriculture, Joint Tax, and more. And as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Grassley serves a prominent role in the confirmation of judges to U.S. courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

Get your tickets to the 2018 Family Leadership Summit now!

Breakout sessions announced for Family Leadership Summit!

This year’s Family Leadership Summit on Friday, Sept. 14, will tackle some the nation’s most pressing – but too rarely talked about – issues, including pornography, poverty, human trafficking, and more.

Through focused breakout sessions, the Summit aims to equip the Church to have real impact on real lives.

And new this year, you’ll be able to attend TWO of the breakout sessions of your choice!

Get your tickets to the 2018 Family Leadership Summit today!

Below are confirmed breakout sessions for the Summit:

  • How the Church Can Address Pornography – Pastor Luke Hukee
  • Biblical Theology of the Poor – Pastor Philip Herman
  • Imagine This: Stories and Statistics of Human Trafficking – Joy Fopma of Wings of Refuge
  • Help! The Youth Are Going Crazy – Dr. Nathan Oppman
  • Women of Faith Leading Today – Alita Reynolds of the Be the Light Movement and Women of Faith
  • Religious Liberty in America – Michael Farris of Alliance Defending Freedom
  • Saving Unborn Lives in Iowa – Chuck Hurley and Danny Carroll
  • Making Disciples: Personal Stories and Examples on Helping the Next Generation Know and Grow in Christ – Mike Wohlenhaus and Karen Campbell

These breakout sessions, in additional to the already stellar lineup of speakers, makes this year’s Family Leadership Summit an event you don’t want to miss!

Don’t delay. Get your tickets to the Summit today!

The Timeless Voice: Politics are not our gospel

Commentary by Greg Baker

Politics, by its nature, builds partnerships and tribes, bands of brothers who rally around a common cause. But for the believer, if we are not careful, politics can become a counterfeit of our true partnership in the gospel, a counterfeit that robs us of the life Christ has for us.

A few weeks ago, I went on an annual excursion with guys from my church that we call the “dudes’ trip.” It is always a time of fun and encouragement. On this particular dudes’ trip, we wanted to focus on true Christian fellowship, what Paul described in Philippians as a being “partners in the gospel” with one another.

For true Christian fellowship builds something more than friendships. Partners in the gospel share way more than common interests. They become a band of brothers, war buddies in a larger, spiritual battle. Paul and Silas, Paul and Timothy, Peter and John are all examples of partners in the gospel. They were a band of brothers forged by laboring in the trenches, shoulder to shoulder, for the lives of the saints and the lost.

Partners in the gospel are marked by their love for one another (John 13:35) and their heart for others. They warn those who are idle, and they help those who are weak. They go into the lost world and labor to bring souls to Christ. They go to war against the forces of darkness, and bring the light. They cry and mourn together. They celebrate together. And more.

This is what my wife and I hunger for in the “community” group from church that meets in our home. We want more than friends who come together periodically to read the Bible and go to services on Sunday. We want more than friends with a common interest. We truly want this partnership, and the only way we are going to get if is if we quit talking about the Great Commission, and actually go out and live it.

Politics, too, can build a band of brothers. Politics is very much a contact sport, a battle that brings people close together. For the believer, however, if we are not careful, the partisan and political divide can be confused what the “partnership in the gospel” the Bible describes. We can mistake our fervor for policy and influence with our mission to be ambassadors for a higher Kingdom. And we can confuse our political war buddies with our truer brothers in Christ.

The distinction can be difficult to discern, because our political goals are often inspired by our Christian values. It is not wrong to desire to bring justice and to defend the oppressed. It is not wrong to take up the widows’ and the orphans’ cause. These desires spring from a biblical worldview and a heart for people.

Where things often go wrong, however, is our priorities. The first misstep is when our focus on the policy makes the policy itself the end goal, rather than spiritual transformation. And when policy is the end goal, we can slip into thinking those who share our politics have allied with the side of light, while those disagree have allied with darkness. Our ideology becomes our gospel, and converting others to our politics takes on religious fervor. And when ideology becomes your gospel, anyone who labors with you becomes your band of brothers, your war buddies, your “partner in the gospel.” It’s just the wrong gospel.

If we do not guard ourselves from this, we will give our entire lives to fighting a political battle and miss where the real battle is fought. We can neglect to encourage and build into the saints. We can neglect to witness and win the lost to Christ. As a result, we will not raise up disciples. And the net result will be we lose the “culture war” we thought we were fighting, because without Christ and His Great Commission, we will lose the culture.

Our greatest protection against this temptation is to remain grounded in the local church. The local church, not political parties or policy organizations, is the hope for the world. The local church is who has been commissioned to raise up disciples. If we give our lives to building Christ’s Church and keeping our focus on Kingdom work, we will discover our truest band of brothers, our partners in the gospel.

And here’s the revolutionary, long-term perspective: When we band together with partners in the gospel, under Christ, we will see people transform around us. We will see people’s lives change. And as lives change, they change the community around them. What’s more, if we apply this gospel-centric, life-changing, disciple-making perspective to our civic engagement, it can revolutionize our government. Revolutionize how we interact with government officials. And revolutionize how we treat both our political allies and our political foes.

So, each of us – especially those of us active in government and politics – must ask ourselves, “Do I truly have partners in the gospel? And am banding with them to build Christ’s Kingdom and His Church?” Because your true partners in the gospel are your best defense against partnering in the wrong gospel.

Greg Baker is vice president of church engagement for The FAMiLY LEADER.

3 MORE speakers announced for The Family Leadership Summit!

The FAMiLY LEADER has added Gary Bauer, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to the list of confirmed speakers for the 7th annual Family Leadership Summit at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday, Sept. 14.

The three additions join previously announced speakers Dr. Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, Marjorie Dannelfelser of Susan B. Anthony List, Michael Farris of Alliance Defending Freedom, and Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The FAMiLY LEADER.

“This year’s lineup features leaders at the forefront of some of the nation’s biggest issues, including life, religious liberty, and the futures of Israel, Iowa, and the U.S. Supreme Court,” says Vander Plaats. “But while the world around us debates these issues in a politically charged media frenzy, the Summit is a refreshing opportunity to think bigger than politics, to look higher for the help we need, for Christians to come together and join God in the ministry of cultural transformation!”

Get your tickets to The Family Leadership Summit now!

The annual Family Leadership Summit brings to the Midwest prominent, national leaders from a variety of fields, including government. The Summit encourages and challenges Christians to engage in Christ-centered cultural transformation that “thinks bigger” than politics and elections to impact not just government, but also churches, families, and individual lives.

Confirmed speakers for the 2018 Summit include:

bauer 250Gary Bauer is Washington director of the Christians United for Israel Action Fund. Previously Bauer served as President Ronald Reagan’s undersecretary of education and chief domestic policy advisor. After leaving the White House, Bauer worked with several family-oriented advocacy organizations. Bauer serves on the board of the Emergency Committee for Israel and as president of American Values. In 2010 he received the Defender of Israel Award from the Zionist Organization of America.


MJD 250Marjorie Dannenfelser is president of Susan B. Anthony List, a national pro-life organization focused on electing pro-life leaders and advancing life-saving laws and policy. SBA List has helped elect more than 111 pro-life leaders to federal and statewide office. Dannenfelser served as National Chair of then-candidate Donald Trump’s Pro-life Coalition during the 2016 election and has been named one Washington Examiner’s top ten “Political Women on the Move” and among Newsweek’s top ten “Leaders of the Christian Right.”


Michael Farris 250Michael Farris is president, CEO, and general counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom, a national, non-profit alliance of attorneys defending life, religious liberty, and marriage, an organization the Washington Post recently dubbed “the Christian legal powerhouse that keeps winning.” ADF made national headlines most recently by winning the landmark Masterpiece Cakeshop case at the U.S. Supreme Court. Farris is also the founder of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association and Patrick Henry College.


jack graham 250Dr. Jack Graham served two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in America, and has served as a member of the president’s evangelical advisory council. Graham is the pastor of the 42,000-member Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, and author of numerous books, including Angels: Who They Are, What They Do and Why It Matters; Man of God; and Unseen.


Grassley 250U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley is a lifelong family farmer and has served as Iowa’s elected U.S. senator since 1970. At the U.S. Senate, Grassley serves on several key committees, including Finance, Budget, Agriculture, Joint Tax, and more. And as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Grassley serves a prominent role in the confirmation of judges to U.S. courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.


Reynolds1Gov. Kim Reynolds is a fifth-generation Iowan who previously served as a county treasurer, state senator, and lieutenant governor before becoming the first woman to serve as governor of Iowa. She is particularly known to pro-life Iowans for signing into law the “Heartbeat Bill,” which protects children in the womb from abortion after their heartbeats can be detected.


Bob 250Bob Vander Plaats inspires others from his experience and leadership successes in education, health care and human services, politics, business, and ministry. Today he is president and CEO of The FAMiLY LEADER, and his leadership and voice for the family are frequently sought after by national and international media outlets. The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and many others have referred to Bob as an election “kingmaker,” while Bob prefers the designation of “standard bearer” for Christ.

Get your tickets to The Family Leadership Summit now!

TFL on TV: Pro-aborts target Iowa as ‘ground zero’ in 2018 election

Following a press conference by the radically pro-abortion group NARAL Pro-Choice America at the Iowa Capitol, TV news stations turned to The FAMiLY LEADER for a pro-life response.

NARAL had pledged to bring outside influence, including “tens of thousands of … phone calls [and] postcards,” to Iowa to unseat Iowa’s pro-life legislators and governor.

“Iowa right now is ground zero,” the pro-abortion group declared.

But for pro-life Iowans, NARAL’s arguments for abortion completely fail to address the most critical issue in the abortion debate – namely, the rights, worth, and dignity of the unborn child.

“Despite all those arguments,” said TFL Vice President and Chief Counsel Chuck Hurley, “there’s one truth that can’t be argued away: That that little child in her mother’s womb, she’s a baby.”

Watch TFL’s Chuck Hurley in coverage from WHO-TV by clicking the image below:

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Thanks to the ultrasound, Hurley said, “So many pregnant mothers share their ultrasound pictures, even videos, and we all know now, seeing is believing that that child in her mother’s womb, she’s a baby.”

Technology that enables us all to see into the womb is part of the reason, Hurley affirmed, that despite the “long-term struggle” over abortion in America, “We believe that life will win.”

Be a part of the winning team for life! Give to the work of TFL by clicking here now.

LEAD VIDEO: Be inspired by the next generation!

Check out this quick, recap video from LEAD, The FAMiLY LEADER’s first-ever summer leadership program for youth:

LEAD challenges teens with a week of Christian worldview and leadership training, then culminates in hands-on experience as part of a mock legislature at the Iowa Capitol. But LEAD is far more than a “government camp,” for its primary focus is on encouraging and equipping young people to be Christ-like leaders in whatever field God places them.

Read more about LEAD by clicking here.

Join TFL in investing in the next generation of Christian leaders. Give to the work of The FAMiLY LEADER today!