I have a confession to make: I’m a policial junkie. It’s true. I love following the political process. I guess that’s natural since I minored in Political Science in college. In fact, just to be perfectly transparent, I often fall asleep with a news channel going on the TV and check the political headlines before I even get out of bed.
Even though I’m very interested in politics, as a pastor, I’ve made a commitment not to be political in the pulpit because of the possibility of creating barriers to reaching those people who are far from God. I also believe that as pastors we have a biblical mandate (not to mention a historical precedent) to speak truth to power and address the pressing (political) issues of our day from a biblical worldview.
So how should the pastor approach politics in the pulpit and his personal life?
Staying in touch with God is the best first step in any advice, but especially when dealing with our sinful nature and world. Pray for guidance before you make any statements or share opinions especially if the issue is complicated. Let the Lord guide your steps in all things.
2. Carefully and Sparingly
Generally speaking, I don’t allow politicians on the pulpit or entangle myself with them too much. The pulpit is for the proclamation of the inerrant word of God. And no matter how well a politician keeps up an image, they are prone to the same sins all men deal with – maybe more so by virture of their position of power – and the media certainly loves to pounce on any and all mistakes. Don’t get caught in the undertow.
One of the many advantages to preaching through books of the Bible is that what comes in the next verse must be dealt with no matter the changing tide of culture or what was covered on the morning news. Preaching expository series through extended portions of scripture allows you to deal with “hot-button” issues that are cultural or even political in nature without being accused of picking and choosing or bringing politics into the pulpit. In fact, I’m often amazed at how the Lord orchestrates the text of the day to correspond with the morning’s headline.
Having consistent values leads to everyone knowing where you stand at all times. It inspires confidence and respect in you as a leader in these times of turbulence. When sharing your views and opinions, remember to consider how it fits within the value system you have established with your congregation.
We are to speak the truth in love. People will listen to you if they know you love them even when they disagree with you. In today’s contentious political climate that’s a very important point to remember.
Never be afraid or embarrassed to address biblical issues that have a current political connection or involvement. Truth is truth. If it were not for the bold proclamation of pastors in the formative days of our nation we likely wouldn’t be the nation we are today.
Politics is an ever-changing sea of issues and opinions with dark waters and strong undertows.
However, the word of God never changes. That’s why we must stand on His Word and strive to do His will even as the world around us tries to force our silence and submission.
Have any questions about politics and pastoring we didn’t cover, or examples from your own experiences? Share a comment below!