Most pastors I know hate politics (not politicians). That awkward dance during election season is something that we were neither trained nor called for. Election Day is next Tuesday and I have a few suggestions on how to fulfill your calling without offending your Boss, your congregation or your own conscience.
- ASSUME THAT EVERY PEW IS BIPARTISAN
Not all that long ago, the diversity in our pews was as simple as Republicans and Democrats. We could assume that both were worshiping the same God and agreeing mostly on His Word. We can now assume that many of our oldest and youngest members will not even be close to being on the same page regarding politics in general and sexual ethics in particular.
All pastors have personal political convictions and yet we also understand our call to love and serve all of our members equally, regardless of their political preferences.
- EMBRACE OUR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
That awkward dance of ministering to every member may eventually become a dangerous dance as well. You can assume that some biblically clear moral convictions are now socially foggy. If a social issue is foggy today, then it may become flammable tomorrow.
Even though many of our biblical/moral convictions have become political landmines, do not hesitate to speak the truth with conviction in your church. Occasionally pastors will need to step on these political landmines in the line of duty. Some Old Testament preachers were rebuked for backing off the tough truths.
They (false prophets) have treated My people’s brokenness superficially, claiming, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. Jeremiah 6:14
Likely you already know that earlier this month five Houston pastors were subpoenaed by their city’s mayor to submit various communications related to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. Several area pastors were trying to help repeal this ordinance because it elevates sexuality and gender identity as protected classes in public accommodation law. The First Amendment of our Constitution protects churches from government intrusion and therefore church leaders should not be easily bullied.
“Criticize churches for getting ‘political’ if you want, but do not, under any circumstances, deem the government a competent czar in theological matters. Citizens—and pastors—in a free country should not tolerate this and should refuse to comply.”—Andrew Walker
- ENCOURAGE YOUR PEOPLE TO GET INVOLVED IN POLITICS
Although some Christians seem to place their hope in government more than God, evangelicals should not overcompensate by stepping completely away from politics altogether. We need to be prepared to do more than second-guess everyone else’s involvement from the pulpit. The churches I have served in set up non-partisan voter registration booths in our lobbies during election seasons.
Thom Rainer had a balanced response to the Houston subpoena:
“Perhaps we will move from our posture of acute apathy to one of making a difference for Christ and His gospel. Times such as these demonstrate who will really take a stand for Christ.”
I believe that what we legitimize today will become legalized tomorrow – especially if we hover silently behind the scenes and simply hope that it all works out eventually.
- SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE OR SHUT UP
Although it is not our job to recruit for parties or candidates, we can unapologetically “speak the truth in love” toward biblical issues that have also become political platforms. Jesus teaches us to be the “salt of the earth” and “light of the world.” Of course, we all can name a salty saint who does more harm than good, so make sure your words are carefully measured. Speak the truth in love or just shut up. Don’t let your anger become sin – especially in the pulpit or on social media.
Our members don’t want or need to be politically pacified, but they do want to know if we really do love our enemies, our neighbors and each other.
- PRAY FOR A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING
Proceed with caution, but by all means, proceed. Lead your church with all of the courage and compassion that Jesus implanted into your heart the moment you gave it to Him. Ask Him boldly for a spiritual awakening in your life first, then your church and community and nation.
“In times like these, we should be rising up tall by falling before our Father in Heaven crying out to Him endlessly in repentance, appealing to Him in His Sovereignty for the next great spiritual awakening in our land.”—Ronnie Floyd