16 Ways Pastors Can Work for Unity in Politically Divisive Times

Guard against Division

As the culture presses hard against the church, unfaithful compromise will always be one threat. Yet Mark Dever has observed that there is another threat that conservative Christians should watch out for: balkanization, or dividing into a hundred pieces. One Christian says we “must” this; another that we “must” that; a third calling down curses on both houses, along with a fourth, fifth, and sixth insisting on their own directions. Like the Balkans in the 1990s, each subnation inside the nation goes to war against the others.

In other words, it is not the case that, as a culture becomes increasingly anti-Christian, all the moral issues become clearer. Some do. But knowing how to live and engage in such a culture can become more complex as we’re faced with lots of new questions, whether we’re talking about resisting school policies on gender pronouns or safety regulations on robots designed for sex. Christians will reach different conclusions amid all these new challenges. Our consciences will respond differently to this and that gray area. What’s important is how we respond to those who vote or believe differently, to learn how to make at least some space for them, and to encourage charity and forbearance.

How Can I Love Church Members with Different Politics?

Jonathan Leeman, Andrew David Naselli

What should church members do when they disagree on political issues? In this short volume, readers will discover that the gospel creates unity amid diversity, not uniformity, as they learn how to engage with those who disagree on political issues. Part of the 9Marks Church Questions series.

So humbly listen to those who don’t share your perspective, especially when they come from a different background. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. What principle of justice are they seeing that you might be missing?

Pray for those you disagree with. When you pray about the outcome of someone else’s faith, God often deepens your affection for them. When fellow church members celebrate Bible teachings that are of first importance, jagged-line issues shouldn’t overthrow the riches of the truths that we love, live for, and would die for.

When you pray about the outcome of someone else’s faith, God often deepens your affection for them.

Finally, meditate on eternity and the final judgment. This shouldn’t cultivate complacency or indifference toward injustice. It should calibrate your political perspective. Measure the now according to the eternal then. Your hope is not in a platform or party or kingdom now. Your hope is in the day the kingdom of this world becomes the kingdom of our Christ (Rev. 11:15).

Practical Advice for Pastors

  1. Preach expositionally.

  2. Continually clarify the distinction between biblical issues and applied-wisdom issues.

  3. Continually affirm Christian liberty.

  4. Teach forbearance toward the weaker conscience.

  5. Point to your church’s statement of faith.

  6. Speak more to what Scripture says and less on how to accomplish it.

  7. Remember that your authority lies with expounding Scripture, not your politics.

  8. Practice church discipline.

  9. Teach what Scripture says about justice.

  10. Teach the congregation to listen and empathize with those from different backgrounds.

  11. Publicly pray for the issues causing grief and fear among different parts of the congregation.

  12. Don’t overestimate the breadth of the problem when only a few people are making noise.

  13. Model graciousness toward those who disagree with you.

  14. Keep a cool head and don’t feel the need to address every issue of the day.

  15. Preach the final judgment and sing about heaven often.

  16. Preach the gospel every week.

This article is adapted from How Can I Love Church Members with Different Politics? by Jonathan Leeman and Andy Naselli.

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