It’s time for pastors to be bold or go home. The times require it of them.
Erick posted here about evangelicals needing to make a choice, rightly noting that “many up and coming evangelical leaders pride themselves on eschewing politics.”
But pastors and church leaders of all denominations and backgrounds need to make a choice: To engage the culture or wait until they are no longer free to do so.
The following sample from our new book You Will Be Made to Care book calls pastors to action:
The Resurgent Church should be unafraid to address the big cultural issues that their parishioners are already talking about around the dinner table and the water cooler throughout the week.
Pastors need to equip them with a biblical understanding on relevant issues so they can be the ambassadors they are called to be.
Although I don’t think the pastor’s job is to preach on the news headlines, he should address the ebbs and flows of culture.
In their letters, Paul and Peter spent a great deal of time explaining how Christians should live in a culture with vastly different beliefs from their own. Pastors today need to do what the Apostles did then—preach on the reality of the times.
A pastor doesn’t have to talk politics, but he does have to talk culture.
He can’t detach himself so much from the society around him that he can’t relate to his flock.
Andrew T. Walker reminds us that pastors have a civic responsibility they cannot avoid:
Pastors need to first and foremost realize that by virtue of being a pastor you have a public office that is a morality-shaping institution. So, I would say to the average pastor of a church in a town, is it is impossible for you not to be shaping morality in one direction or another. It is a question of whether or not you are going to be shaping your congregants for a life in the public square positively or negatively.
How you shape your parishioners’ morality, pastor, will depend on the unique needs of your congregation and local community.
The pastor in America today, confronted by the collapse of marriage and the family, the hostility of secular government, and threats to tax-exempt status for churches, should preach a different sermon from the pastor in Nigeria, where Muslim terrorists might burst through the church door at any moment and kill them all.
Even though people halfway around the world may hear the sermon in a podcast, the pastor’s primary obligation is to apply the timeless truths of Scripture to his local congregation.
Pastors need to equip us spiritually to deal with the world, because ultimately there is a fight that’s happening around us in the unseen realm.
I don’t think we can understand what’s going on in this world unless we also have some level of a spiritual worldview to discern how we can see is only a part of the ultimate battle.
I don’t need a pastor telling me how to vote, but I do need a pastor encouraging me to follow my conscience in political matters, especially when I start to doubt it.
There’s been a dangerous overcorrection in a lot of churches, particularly Southern Baptist churches, in overreaction against the Moral Majority and Christian Coalition fights of the ’80s and ’90s. Pastors don’t need to be training up an army of political activists, but they certainly need to be training up an army of spiritual activists—and so much of the spiritual warfare in our culture goes on at the ballot box.
Too many pastors have tried avoiding anything that sounded political for far too long. But now there is nowhere to run—even pastors are being made to care.
Russell Moore points out that pastors and church leaders have work to do on two levels:
One of those levels is helping people as citizens to work for religious liberty and religious freedom, not just for ourselves, but for everyone. That is an inheritance that has been given in this country that we have the responsibility to steward.
We need to talk to people about why freedom of conscience matters.
And it doesn’t just matter because we’ve got the most votes and so we’ve got our rights. No, we need to be standing up for that mosque down the street and say the Gospel doesn’t mean we give the state the power to zone that mosque out of existence.
The Gospel means that the state doesn’t have any business with what goes on in people’s centers of worship. That [defense] doesn’t mean we think that Christians and Muslims are morally or eternally equivalent. It means that we have the right to argue with one another about the Gospel without the state coming in and using the sword to punish either one of us.
We articulate that and then, at the same time, we create people who are willing to prize their deepest held religious convictions above the penalty of threat—people who can’t be bullied. What I often tell churches is I have two jobs.
One job is to keep you out of jail. The other job is to make you willing to go to jail, because there’s one thing worse than going to jail for your faith, and that’s having a faith that’s too safe for jail.
The full interviews with Walker and Moore are available for free but ONLY available until You Will Be Made to Care launches.
You can get them along with 11 hours of other interviews when your pre-order the book now.
If you are a pastor, I encourage you to take the challenge and derive encouragement from what you will discover. If you know a pastor or church leader, I urge you to pre-order them a copy.
They’ll thank you for it.