by Nathan A. Cherry, The Family Policy Council of West Virginia
I’ve spent a lot of time with pastors encouraging them to get involved and be proactive in defending religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family. Some are standing tall and speaking boldly. Some are sitting on the sidelines. And many others simply aren’t so sure how to engage a culture that is moving steadily away from biblical truth.
One pastor recently asked me a simple question, “Where do I start?” He was feeling overwhelmed and just needed to know what the first step was in joining the conversation about the critical issues of the day. He also wanted guidance on how best to get his congregation informed and involved. That got me thinking about how many other pastors nationwide might be feeling the same.
Here is short list of steps every pastor can take to get started.
Step 1: Knowledge is Power:
Stay informed on the critical issues.
As a pastor, your congregation needs to know they can come to you with questions and concerns about pressing social issues. They want you to engage in intelligent conversation and provide them with the biblical firepower to combat the half-truths and misconceptions perpetuated throughout society. Nothing is more frustrating or discouraging to a church member than to ask their pastor important questions on fundamental religious issues, only to receive vapid responses such as, “I don’t pay attention to trivial things in society,” or “Don’t waste your time reading the news, just read the Bible.”
But there is nothing trivial about the issues of religious liberty, life, and marriage and family. For many church attendees, the issues of life and marriage are central to their everyday lives and they need to know their pastor can handle their questions. Nothing screams “irrelevant” like not having a clue about what is going on in society.
Tip: Use a good news aggregator to stay informed. I use Feedly. This way, instead of having to go to a dozen websites for news, the news will come to you. I recommend following the Engage Family Minute, Alliance Defending Freedom’s Alliance Alert and Speak Up Church Blog, Family Research Council’s FRC Blog, World Net daily, and Life News. If you follow these, you will be well-informed.
Step 2: Spread the Knowledge:
Share information with your congregation.
As a pastor, your congregation looks to you for guidance. A pastor can harness his influence to teach his flock a practical theology—a lived faith that stands tall against liberal trends that mock God’s ways. If a pastor stays informed and shares this Godly information with his congregation, they will increasingly see him as someone they can trust and count on.
When major news happens, talk about it in church. If a pastor ignores crucial events like the Sandy Hook shooting or the Supreme Court rulings on marriage, he will be missing prime teaching opportunities that can bring biblical truths to light. There is more than just a social context to these events; there is an opportunity to share deep biblical truth about God’s design for human dignity, life and marriage. And once your congregation is equipped in this Gospel knowledge, they will be able to share it with all who cross their path.
Tip: Use social media to teach even when you’re not preaching. By using social media, you can have tremendous influence on your congregation even when they are not in church. Don’t be afraid to share articles or comment on events happening in the community and around the country.
Step 3: Faith in Action:
Encourage the flock to be informed and active.
A lot of pastor’s want to steer clear of being “too political” in church. But even if this is the case that doesn’t mean a pastor can’t encourage his congregation to stay informed and be active. Just because your church may not hold a pro-life rally, that doesn’t mean you can’t encourage others to participate in one elsewhere. Many worthwhile national events like the Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, Pulpit Freedom Sunday, National Day of Prayer, and Call 2 Fall provide an excellent opportunity to unite your congregation in a lived faith that sets an example for the community. You can’t simply say you are pro-life or pro-marriage without getting involved. Faith demands action.
By staying informed on local and national events, you can encourage your congregation to be an active light in the community and stand for biblical truth. This can only lead to infinite opportunities to spread the Gospel.
Tip: Set an example for your congregation by personally getting involved. You can do this by letting your church know you are voting and encouraging them to do the same. You can also support a local, state, or national organization as a church and work as a community to bring about lasting change. Organizations like Care Pregnancy Centers can never have enough support. Take action and encourage others to do the same.
These are just three small steps that a pastor can take to advance the Gospel and lead others in standing for God’s truth. If a pastor does not care about biblical issues being assaulted in society, why should their congregation?
It is only once a pastor is armed with knowledge and the will to share and act on it that others will follow. And maybe once this happens, Christians across America will be able to help prevent and overturn bad court decisions such as Roe v. Wade or the striking down of one of the crucial articles of DOMA defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
There are no short-cuts. Our nation’s spiritual leaders must rise to the occasion so that others may follow to preserve religious liberty, life, and marriage and family.