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Pastoring through an election year


This year no doubt will be filled with a perpetual barrage of politics. From Super Tuesday to November 5, our church people will be bombarded with political ads, phone calls, news segments and presidential debates. As pastors, how do we pastor through a year like this?

Remain non-partisan as pastor

As private citizens, pastors should be involved in the political process as much as they choose to be. Watch cable news, debate over the dining room table and vote your conscience. But in the role of pastor, you would be wise to be cautious about what you put out there. As a representative of your church, be as apolitical, or at least as non-partisan, as you can. If someone feels uncomfortable at your church because they vote for the opposing candidate, you may be usurping the centrality of the Gospel.

Preach on the providence of God

Political ads make it sound like the future is entirely in our hands, as though it’s all up to us as citizens and every election is the most important one in the history of humanity. If the opposing candidate wins, it will be the end of the republic! That is a sure recipe for anxiety, and for roughly half of Americans, a severe disappointment. As spiritual leaders, we have the opportunity to encourage people that a sovereign God sits on His throne, who raises up kings and brings them down. Remind them of God’s words in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Pray for our nation and its leaders

Remind people that the one thing we as Christians are commanded to do when it comes to politics is pray. Even if two Christians have vastly different opinions on candidates, they should be able to pray together. “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Let us pray.

Encourage people to go out and vote

Good citizenry participates in a democracy, and Christians should be good citizens. I trust that if the vast majority of Christians in the United States engage in the election process, even with many voting for competing candidates, the end will result in a net positive good for our nation. More than that, voting is a way of being salt and light, of caring for our neighbor. We should seek what is the greatest good in the public square for our society, and one small way we can do that is to cast our ballots.

Keep doing what you normally do

If the pastor changes his tune and joins in on the anger and bitterness, many will see that as a cue for how they should act too. If they see you joyful in the midst of the turmoil and divisiveness, delighting in the Gospel, they will want to follow suit. What you prioritize during this year will stand out all the more, at a time when every newspaper, news outlet and social medium is screaming that the election is the most important event in the universe. God is more exciting and more enjoyable than any candidate’s latest shocking statement.

The year 2024 will come and go. Whoever sits in the Oval Office over the next four years will have an impact on our country, no doubt. Yet, pastors will keep preaching the Word, keep shepherding the flock, and keep bringing the Gospel to the nations. If the Lord tarries, we will do it all over again in four years.

    About the Author

  • Rick Harrington

    Rick Harrington is a pastor at First Baptist Church of Haverhil, Massachusetts. He is the author of the books “How to Find a Church: Seven Steps to Becoming Part of a Spiritual Family” and “The Weight of Preaching: Heralding the Gospel of Grace.”

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