Pastors Knute Larson, Jeff Bogue, and Jim Brown discuss how to talk about politics from the pulpit.
Politics and the Pulpit
No one wants to divorce the pulpit and the Scripture it presents from our daily lives. And yet our daily lives–at least a lot of conversation and communication–are filled with politics.
Shall we talk about the presidential election coming soon? About the Supreme Court judges, since judges are in the Bible?
About the way the lead candidates talk about each other without evidence of the fruit of the Spirit?
Here we try to tackle some of the questions, taking sides on the issue of whether or not we should take sides, and hoping we can get us all thinking and planning.
See what you think. We hope you will at least vote as it is important.
Glad to be friends through this monthly connection,
Knute, Jeff, Jim
Pastors who love pastors
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How should we pray from the pulpit?
- We should pray for moral issues and for Christ-like hearts in our politicians and the people who vote for them.
- We want our folks to walk into the voting booth as followers of Jesus Christ, not as Republican or Democrat.
- When we pray, we need to pray the same way, regardless of which political party might be rubbed wrong in that prayer
- For, not against. Many preachers let people know who they are against and jump on thier hobby horses while praying.
- Pray don’t preach.
- Pray and don’t tell God something He already knows about someone.
- Pray for the leaders, like Paul instructed in I Timothy 2:1-4.
- Remind people that God is able.
- Emphasize that in Christ we are more than by ourselves.
- Not doom and gloom, but hope-filled prayers.
- Be a shepherd who brings comfort and compassion that connects our nation’s needs to God the Father.
- First, we should pray in the worship service. Many skip this or allow the guitar player to make one up as he strums.
- Part of a strong worship-service prayer is asking. Some use P-R-A-Y as a model here and for groups or families–Praise, Repent (and pray for character), Ask, and Yield (to the text or the truth). We must ask God’s grace for obvious needs, and the national debate brings up obvious needs.
- Pray for sovereign shepherding for our people–even if you understand that as little as I do. We do believe God can guide hearts and events.
- Do not pray about only issues that show favor to only one candidate. Very easy to do. Many voters’ guides are obviously slanted.
How do we take stands on ethical issues without being partisan?
- We should pay special attention not to politicize spiritual issues or spiritualize political ones.
- When we teach issues, they should be taught from the Word of God not from our cultural or political views.
- For instance, “life” issues are not political, but moral (God’s view on life, in the womb, end of line, etc.).
- Marriage issues are not political issues, but moral issues. The Scripture teaches right and wrong, so we teach the Scripture and the moral conclusion has to be drawn.
- Gun control, taxes, infrastructure…these are political issues.
- We are politically free to have whatever opinion we want to have on those issues, but these issues should not show up in the pulpit, because they are not addressed in the Word of God.
- Tell the truth unashamedly.
- It matters not what people think but what God does.
- Show what the Bible says, not what you think to be true.
- Keep to the issue, not the candidates.
- Address the hard stuff, not just the election season.
- Don’t shy away, let people know that God’s Word says, and never back down from the hard stuff.
- Let people know what you stand for—do not keep them guessing.
- First, preach the Word. If an issue comes up in the Word, it is a reminder that it was first an ethical or biblical issue before it was a political issue.
- Live with the tension that as followers of our Lord we are called to believe and practice the ethics and truth clearly called for in God’s Word. But we cannot impose this on our nation or our friends. We can pray and model.
- Do not hedge all your bets–let’s say that there is a better way for the church crowd: Do not imply that the success of our Christian witness or concerns hinges on this election, or any election. Nothing will change about our calling, no matter which way the country goes.
- With positive challenge, remind your people that if the “moral majority” was ever there, it should never have been our hope for this country. Now some researchers say there are more like 10% of U.S. citizens who would be called evangelicals because they believe the Bible to be true and Jesus Christ to be The Way. So we are much more in line with the New Testament Roman debauchery times! Challenged but not discouraged!
Should we comment on mean and dirty language?
- Yes, we should talk about God’s standards for speech and the views of our fellow human beings.
- No, we should not address a specific candidate’s specific language.
- The only time that we should call out a specific policy by a candidate is when that politician is in direct violation of Scripture.
- Yes, address the issues at hand.
- The Bible is clear that we should keep from having coarse language.
- I regularly encourage our people to filter what they say on social media and to have positive expressions of their beliefs.
- Never use the pulpit to bash a politician.
- If we spent as much time praying for our leaders as some do critiquing them, our world would be in much better shape.
- And we must remind ourselves that God is never surprised by the world situation and in complete control. The Bible tells us that “the heart of the king is in God’s hands”!
- Our God is ultimately in complete control of what will unpack in our world!
- Yes, in a very kind and direct way.
- Yes, especially when we preach on Ephesians 4:29-5:2, or Galatians 5:22, 23, or parallel truths.
- Some of the campaigning does remind us of our junior high days, with sarcasm and name-calling. Shall we pray and model how we can differ and still be gracious and full of care?
- Always we–okay, I first–must remember that the things we do not like on the national scene or in the media, are often more quietly or secretly done in our churches or in our own minds. What is that reminder about “watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (Gal. 6:1)?
- The last is first. And be light in a dark world.
Vol. 3, Issue 5
September 2016 Issue
Produced by CE National
Pastorpedia is produced monthly by three experienced pastors: Jeff Bogue, of Grace Church, in several locations in the Bath-Norton-Medina areas of Ohio; Jim Brown, of Grace Community Church in Goshen, Indiana, a church known for its strong growth, family and men’s ministries, and community response teams; and Knute Larson, a coach of pastors, who previously led The Chapel in Akron for 26 years. Pastorpedia is brought to you by CE National. Visit cenational.org/pastorpedia for more issues and to read the bios of our contributors.