For those of you who are new to this blog you may not realize that I am in full-time vocational ministry (I believe that all followers of Christ are in “full-time ministry” or at least they should be). Much of that time has been serving in the local church as a youth pastor, or much more recently as an interim pastor.
I take my responsibility of bringing God’s word to people whether to a youth group, kids in a Juvenile Detention Center, or from the pulpit on Sunday morning very seriously. When Paul charged Timothy he said, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth,” (2 Timothy 2:15-16, ESV). I then seek to be diligent in my study and handling of scripture when I teach and not abuse my role as a pastor-teacher. I want to faithfully discharge the ministry of the Word in the setting in which God has called me.
So when I saw this tweet (I’ll keep the guy anonymous) it irritated me.
If your Pastor is not speaking out about what is going on in Washington you need to scold him.
Now I am not opposed to preaching on moral issues when they come up in the text you are preaching through. I’ve even preached on Sanctity of Life Sunday and one day I hope that isn’t necessary. There are times in which the Church needs to use it’s prophetic voice and speak truth to power. But to use the pulpit to rail against government healthcare and government spending as this guy suggested would be inappropriate at best and an abuse of the pulpit ministry.
But to also say “scold him” if he is faithfully preaching the Gospel, but doesn’t preach political messages? I say the opposite, scold him if he is not proclaiming the Gospel and neglecting the ministry of the Word! Unfortunately that goes on far, far too much in American churches.
Christianity does not equal an American Civil Religion, nor is the Church to be a mouthpiece of the right or the left. It isn’t a time to lift up the virtues of the founding fathers, but the Cross of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul writes again to Timothy…
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, (2 Timothy 4:1-3, ESV, emphasis mine).
Pastor-Teachers are charged with preaching the Word. We are to be faithful in doing so. We are to guard God’s flock. Our time in the pulpit should be a time where God is speaking to His people via His word. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth that…
Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. (1 Corinthians 9:16-17, NIV).
Paul was compelled, and when he preached he was simply discharging the trust committed to him. It’s the same with pastors, when they preach they are discharging a sacred trust when they do. We should encourage it, not scold them when they do. There are plenty of times & places to speak out on political issues, but in most cases it shouldn’t be from the pulpit.