Up and down the country, around 4,000 people are putting themselves forward as potential Members of Parliament. The election took a lot of us – and them – by surprise. But these people nonetheless dropped everything to become parliamentary candidates, and even now some of them are touring your area seeking your vote. As the campaigns get underway, here are five things you can do for your candidates which they will – hopefully – appreciate.

Pray

The Bible tells us to pray ‘for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness’ (1 Timothy 2:2 NIVUK). I think this means we should also pray for people who might become our leaders in the not-too-distant future. Public service through being an MP is an act of love, and an election campaign is hard on the candidates and on those who work for them. So we should pray for our candidates, for the party leaders, and for all others involved in different ways with the campaign. We’ll be putting some more prayer ideas up on our website soon.

Listen

Each candidate will have different ideas about what our society could look like. As the manifestos are published and as candidates do the rounds of hustings and interviews, we should hear them out. We should be especially careful to hear those we wouldn’t usually vote for, or those who will disagree with us – because this doesn’t come naturally. We’ll be posting on the manifestos in the coming week, as they’re launched.

Meet

Unfortunately, some people see MPs and party leaders as quite remote figures. While we have opportunities to meet our MP at local events or constituency surgeries, we don’t always take these up. This makes it too easy to forget that our politicians are human beings, rather than mere members of a vaguely threatening bloc called ‘the elite’ or ‘the Westminster bubble.’ But an election season is very different. So take the extra opportunities to meet your candidates while they’re out campaigning, or show up to a hustings event. You can find guidance on organising a hustings here.

Ask

Effectively, an election is a massive job-interview for the leaders of the country and those who will sit in parliament. Like it or not, as a voter you are in the interviewer’s chair. So take the opportunity to ask your questions to candidates, and send them to Parliament with your questions and concerns in mind. As they question ministers and participate in debates, it will be these concerns that they reflect. We’ve given you some suggestions of what you might want to ask about in our election booklet, and we’ll be pointing you to our member organisations in the next few weeks who have some great campaigns of their own.

Vote

Krish Kandiah gave us ten reasons to vote here. I would add that voting is a great way to encourage all our candidates, and Christians voting is a great way to encourage Christian candidates in particular. This is true whichever party you vote for. Almost every candidate would rather you vote for another party than not vote at all. After all, voting means you’re interested, and if you’re interested then you can be persuaded. Follow this link to register: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. The deadline to register to vote is the 22 May, so make sure you’re on the list!