Your Voice: How do we pastor through an election year?

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Your Voice: How do we pastor through an election year?

By Rick Harrington
Baptist Churches of New England

This election year no doubt will be filled with a perpetual barrage of politics. From Super Tuesday to Nov. 5th, our church people will be bombarded with political ads, phone calls, news segments and presidential debates.

As pastors, how do we lead 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, we 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 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.”

Commanded to pray

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.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was originally published by Baptist Churches of New England.

True love defined by Scripture

For a society that prioritizes love so enthusiastically, one would think we would have a greater understanding of exactly what we’re talking about.

Thankfully, the Bible very clearly defines what love is, and therefore, what it is not. In what some have referred to as the Love Chapter, the Apostle Paul lays out extensive characteristics of true love by personifying the virtue (1 Cor. 13:4–7). Love is patient, he says, rather than demanding.

Instead of jealousy, love manifests itself in a kindness that prioritizes others. Refusing to be braggadocious, love resists arrogance. Instead of pursuing licentiousness, love chooses holiness over unbecoming actions. Contrary to the narcissism of our day, love does not prioritize self-interests. Because it is not easily provoked, love keeps no record of wrongs suffered.

Adam Dooley
Englewood Baptist Church
Jackson, Tennessee

Having the courage for today

By Karen Moore

Most of us are more courageous than we even realize. After all, we rise to the challenges life throws at us, and we grow from them and create new opportunities.

We learn from experience and become more authentic, more of the person we were designed to be. It all starts with courage.

Some days though, it takes effort to get out of bed.

Your list of options for the day don’t seem that promising or rewarding and so you have to muster all the strength you have just to try again.

You know everybody around you is just as vulnerable, just as uncertain, and yet just as willing to step up and step out.

You were born with courage. In fact, the Bible even says, you were not made to be timid.

2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

Also, in Joshua 1:9, we read, “Be strong and courageous.

“Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

God is with you

Okay, so the truth is you are courageous and powerful. You are a force to be reckoned with every single day because God is with you. That means no matter what the latest news buzz is all about, or what craziness is happening that is hard to understand, you are strong.

You were made with a spirit of power and love and self-discipline. You can keep trusting God is with you wherever you go. You don’t have to be dismayed by the circumstances of life because courage is your middle name.

“We have to understand that nothing that happens in our world is out of [God’s] control,” said Nelutu “John” Iubas, who is president of Romanian-American Mission in Romania. “We have a God who’s above everything, so He has a greater plan and He knows everything.”

“This merger is a beautiful reminder to all of us that God’s love is more powerful than the enemy’s relentless and ruthless attempts to divide, separate and isolate God’s people,” said Danny Sinquefield of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, regarding the merger of two Memphis churches — one an African American church and the other a white church.

“Every church needs to be thinking about the next generation and how they will sustain and reach them with the gospel, to continue church growth, church mission and church Kingdom work,” said Shane Freeman, pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in Petal, Mississippi.

“I don’t think people in our society realize what it means to manage money without reproach. It’s not your grandma’s checkbook. For payroll, if you don’t get every box checked off right, you’re in a year-long mess with the IRS just trying to fix it, and it could be costly,” said Bryan Catherman, pastor of Redeeming Life Church in Bountiful, Utah.

“If you find yourself questioning how you can justify months of planning for one week out of the church year, remind yourself of the main purpose of VBS. VBS is worth it,” said Vicki Hulsey, who has served on church staffs in the areas of preschool, children, students, family and education ministries.

“As a musician I don’t know what next year will be or what the next two years will be, so I rely on Jesus. I have to depend on Him to show up and continue to show up,” said multiplatinum singer-songwriter Mack Brock on how God has protected his family through various challenges, including foster care. “He always does. He’s never let us down. He’s never left us. But it is a constant dependence on Him.”

“The goal for us is to continue to impact the lives of … college students before they even step foot on campus, and then subsequently to have a deeper impact on more and more college towns and more campus communities,” said Trace Hamiter, who created the nonprofit All Things Ministries, which now holds nine different student-led retreats on college campuses in the Southeast, in addition to international student retreats.

“I believe we as a church kind of falter with new believers,” said Larry Hyche, who wrote “First Letters: Basic Truths for a New Believer.” “We’re not as intentional with them as we should be. We’re all so busy now and tend to ignore the relationship factor.”

“We want to proclaim the greatness of God through music,” saidShane Everett of the musical duo Shane and Shane. “At our concerts we like to talk about different Scriptures and tell what the Lord is doing in our lives. We always stress the importance of a daily walk with the Lord.”

Three reasons why many pastors don’t persevere in ministry:

#1 Hidden sin.

#2 “Greener grass” syndrome.

#3 Deep discouragement.

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Jesus intercedes for His own.

He prays for our:

  1. Unity (Jn 17:21)
  2. Sanctification (Jn 17:17)
  3. Protection from Evil
    (Jn 17:15)
  4. Joy (Jn 17:13)
  5. Knowledge of God (Jn 17:3)
  6. Glorification (Jn 17:24)
  7. Love (Jn 17:26)

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