Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pastors Silent As America Approaches Generational Vote For President

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The 2016 presidential election will be the most important vote in a generation---multiple nominations to the Supreme Court will shape America for generations to come.

Religious freedom hangs in the balance.

So why are evangelical pastors less likely to be involved in this election than in the past?

Christian pollster and culture monitor, George Barna, has found only about half of the evangelical pastors plan to sponsor a voter registration drive at church---and only 6 in 10 even plan to mention the election from the pulpit.

Why are pastors silent?

Barna shares some of his impressions.

Barna and his American Culture and Faith Institute has been polling Christians and cultural trends for a long time. He expresses concern in his recent findings.

Barna says, "So many pastors are concerned about the character of both major party candidates."

I understand and agree. Most Christians would agree.

"Secondly," Barna observes, "we know that because of how pastors are evaluated in their positions, they don't want to see people leave the church---so their concern is if they begin to engage in political activity, some people may leave the church."

I agree, some may leave, but my personal experience is contrary to that notion.

There are a number of folks scattered across the Northwest and elsewhere across the country who were members of churches where I served as pastor. They can affirm this.

We found that when the current political and cultural issues of our day are addressed from a biblical point of view (worldview) and are shared as needed in balance with sermons emphasizing evangelism and personal spiritual growth the church grows, in our case, exponentially so.

For those who may leave, many more come through being attracted to a clear biblical message on the issues, and through becoming a believer in Jesus Christ as a result of the church's evangelism out reach.

Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Maryland says, "Evangelicals are also discouraged."

"A certain group of people, after last summer's ruling on marriage and the trajectory of the culture, feel as though there's not much we can do," he says.

Jackson attended the recent "Conversation" meeting in New York with Donald Trump, and is among a group of evangelicals who have been chosen to advise Trump on biblical evangelical issues.

The Bishop says Trump "needs to articulate, in terms that our Christian evangelical community can understand, the things that he will do for our constituents."

Dr. Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, is also one of Trump's advisers. He says he is counseling Trump to pick a strong social conservative as his running mate.

Dr. Land is also calling on Trump to nominate Ted Cruz to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, should Trump be elected. In fact, Land is asking Trump to announce that decision during the general election.

Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, now head of Family Talk, is urging pastors to lead their congregations to biblical truth rather than to react to their political fears.

Barna says pastors are facing issues they have not faced before. He says, "A large share of today's pastors have no idea what to teach about the issues of the day---they're not sure how the Bible actually connects with those issues."

Barna found only about 1 in 5 (21%) of pastors plan to preach a sermon on a specific policy issue between now and November. That compares with 37% two years ago.

The survey shows a comparative graph between 2014 and 2016. It's very concerning.

Dobson says, "This is a time for moral leadership--Our country is sliding morally almost every day---and it is a time for the Church to be the Church."

He says the political priorities for the Church should be crystal clear---they are "marriage, religious freedom, and life."

Rhetorically addressing all pastors everywhere, Dobson says, "Tell me about the sanctity of life, sir. Do you really have to do a lot of thinking about that? Are you going to avoid that subject because somebody is not going to like it in the church? I think that's cowardice."

One of several take-aways I got from studying the survey was that Barna found that by a 2 to 1 margin, the conservative pastors felt that Trump is likely to defeat Hillary Clinton (44% vs. 22%)

However, the uncertainty of pastors about the outcome in November was demonstrated by the fact that 1/3 of them (35%) said they did not know who is most likely to win.

I found it very interesting that regarding their personal preference; Conservative pastors prefer Trump over Clinton by a 6 to 1 ratio (60% for Trump, 10% for Clinton).

Barna says, "Once again the indecisiveness of conservative pastors was on display, with 30% opting out for choices other than the 2 major candidates---13% said they could vote for a third party candidate, 6% say they will not vote, and 11% say they don't know what to do."

My point is not to direct you to a political candidate, but to this: God can direct us when we actively ask Him to do so, and He can certainly direct us in how to vote. However to stall out, sit it out or opt out on any decision, particularly major ones is deadly.

I didn't write the following---in fact, I don't know who did--but it's true:

"Be decisive. Right or Wrong, make a decision. The road is paved with flat squirrels who couldn't make a decision."

More seriously.

Decisions can be tough to make. The process can be paralyzing---some people are paralyzed. Some leaders are paralyzed. And this translates to instability.

Our world does not need more paralyzed people and paralyzed leaders.

James 1:6,7,8 comes to mind:

"But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."

God cannot direct our path if we are sitting paralyzed by indecision.

Be Prayerful. Be Faithful. Be Singleminded. Be Blessed.