current events

The Sunday Before: Addressing the Election from the Pulpit

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A seminary professor once told me that he would much rather preach a funeral than officiate a wedding. He argued that at a wedding the audience tends to view the pastor as just another decoration, a well-placed ornament adorning the bride’s perfect day. And in his experience, despite the fact that he stood front and center before the crowd, no one cared what he had to say. They were not there for him. But conversely, at funerals, those gathered to remember and mourn their recently departed loved ones were not only attentive to this pastor’s words, they were desperate for the hope that he would offer.

Pastor, your congregation will be desperate for your words this Sunday.

The election is everywhere. For more than a year, the chaos of the 2016 election cycle has been building. Print and digital media have offered non-stop coverage of the campaigns. News cycles have been driven by scandal after scandal. Our mailboxes and inboxes are full of negative ads and fundraising letters. Our public discourse has returned to the gutter. And nearly every day we are reminded once again that this may be “the most important election of our lives.” But there is good news. It is almost over.

Though some states have offered early voting for several weeks, the vast majority of voters will head to the polls on Tuesday to cast their ballots. Pastor, what you say to God’s people this weekend matters immensely.

This is an important election. No matter what happens, some of our people will be joyful, some will be disillusioned and some will be fearful. I can think of no better opportunity for the shepherds of God’s flock to exercise faithful leadership.

I would encourage every pastor to do the following things this Sunday:

Urge Your Members to Vote

Some churches eagerly distribute voter guides. Some churches seek to mobilize members or serve as polling places. Pastor, no matter your practice or comfort level, urge your members to vote.

Voting is a civic duty. Christians are called to be good citizens (Rom. 13). Exercising your right to vote is an important part of that. But I would encourage you not to worry too much about candidates and ballot measures. If you have been faithful to deliver the gospel to your people, you have prepared them well to vote.

When it comes to these matters, as preachers of God’s Word, it is not our job to bind the conscience, but to shape it. As Russell Moore has said, “just as the gospel shapes us into the kind of people we are to be in our workplaces and in our families, the gospel ought to shape our consciences to carry out our duties as citizens.”

As the gospel shapes the conscience, the conscience informs the way we vote. My church may not know which circles I marked on my ballot, but they know what matters to me. And that is enough.

As the gospel shapes the conscience, the conscience informs the way we vote.

Offer True Hope

All our talk about cultural engagement would be wasted if our pulpits declared that there is hope in any name other than Jesus. Pastor, this Sunday as you enter your pulpit, be mindful of the election, but stand in awe of God.

It is my prayer that this weekend pastors will preach the glories of Christ and not America. We are sojourners in this land, and while we pray God’s blessings upon our nation, we recognize that no earthly kingdom shall endure forever.

There is only one hope. Preach Jesus.

Preach in View of Next Sunday

Your congregation will be listening this Sunday, but don’t forget that they are coming back next week. This election matters, but God’s people and your integrity matter more.

Many people are worried or afraid. Others are apathetic. Resist the temptation to play to people’s fears. Resist the temptation to say something you will regret. Yes, we want God’s people to vote. But we do not need to shame or goad them. There is no need to sacrifice your integrity; faithful shepherding will do.

Pastor, bring the Word of God to his people and trust the election results to him.

Final Thoughts

This weekend, thousands of pastors across America will take to the pulpit to deliver God’s Word. Do not let the election be a distraction. Pastor, the most important cultural engagement you do this week will be in your pulpit on Sunday morning.

No matter what happens, our sovereign God remains the only wise king. He determines the fate of men and of nations. As you stand before God’s people on Sunday, remind them to vote and then tell them the truth: Our God reigns.

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  • current events
  • election
  • ministry
  • politics
Josh Wester

Josh Wester is the director of operations at Redeemer Church in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and serves as a research assistant at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. A graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Th.M. student at Southeastern Seminary, Josh lives in Rocky Mount with his wife, McCaffity, and their son, Jackson.

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