I’m not the biggest fan of the church focusing on political issues.
I’d rather have the church focus on evangelism, instead of fighting the “culture war.” But, that doesn’t mean I don’t think there’s a time and a place for an honest Biblical perspective on important social issues.
For starters, it’s important to deal with social issues to keep the church from becoming an echo chamber. Depending on the area and makeup of your church community, your pastor will address certain issues and avoid others. It all depends on what your congregation finds worthy of discussion. But those concerns can create a bubble around the church, closing it off to broader cultural issues that need to be addressed.
What’s the racial makeup of your church? What’s the social standing of your church community? What’s the political and social values of your parishioners?
Tell me the makeup of your church and I’ll give you a list of addressed and avoided issues.
Your church’s social characteristics can lead to a religious safe space. The church can be used as a barrier against political and social disagreement, by the sheer fact that no one of opposing political ideology goes to said church. This leads to disconnect between the church and the surrounding world. It breeds exclusiveness and in most cases, a paranoia of anyone who’s different.
These factors then affect the sermon and teaching of the church.
If your congregation isn’t open to discussing controversial issues, it’s unlikely the pastor will address it. Why risk losing your congregation over one issue?
And the echo-chamber strengthens.
I recently mentioned to a friend about pastor Andy Stanley’s sermon on race in America and how the church should address it. His first reaction was to shake his head. “Preaching politics in the church again,” was what was going through his head. I quickly clarified saying the sermon was handled well, and definitely needed.
Social issues, like race relations, don’t have to be political. But thanks to our highly politicized society, issues like these are often seen as political. That’s fair. It is a highly political issue. However, the root of the problem is social, it’s a heart issue. Which is why preaching politics from the podium is always discouraged; it distracts from the heart issue underneath all the polarization.
That’s how these issues should be addressed. It’s not hard to pull back the political mumbo-jumbo to address the heart issue at the bottom of it.
It’s what the church should be doing.
By all means, avoid politics. Avoid the polarization.
Don’t avoid the root of the issue, though.
The gospel isn’t political. Jesus made that clear on several occasions.
The Jews thought the savior would liberate them from the Roman oppressors. They thought he would raise up the Jewish kingdom. The Pharisees tried to trap Jesus by asking him about paying taxes to Caesar.
In all these incidents, the Jews were thinking on a worldly level. Jesus was thinking on a spiritual one.
By all means, avoid political squabbling. Such polarization should be below the church.
But do address racial and sexual issues. Address whatever is rearing its head up in society. Create a constructive conversation around it. Don’t pander to fear or bigotries, or keep people in ignorance. Inform, discuss, and enlighten. Communicate your values in love.The Gospel should be a blueprint for not only how to deal with an issue, but how to discuss itClick To Tweet
The Gospel should be a blueprint for not only how to deal with an issue, but how to discuss it. Jesus didn’t sugar coat it, he didn’t avoid controversial issues, and he didn’t pander to his constituents. Remember the Samaritan woman and the tax collector? He didn’t reinforce echo chambers, he shattered them. He made it very clear that petty worldly differences mattered not to him. What mattered to him was their souls. And his unconditional love showed through because of it.