WOULD JESUS BE A REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT? This question has been not only posed, but arguments made for either answer by advocates on both sides of the political divide. Is that even the right question though? Going back to the birth of the church, believers have struggled and engaged in different ways with the underlying question: What relationship should Christians have to politics?
When it comes to handling politics in group life, as a leader it can feel like heading into rough seas without any map or tools. So how do you navigate political conversations in group life?
Address it Up Front
Political talk or at least occasional comments are bound to creep in at times, especially in our current election season. Ignoring this reality and just hoping it doesn’t come up is one of the worst things you can do. So, as the leader of your group, you need to lead the way by having a plan for how political talk will be handled in the group and articulate clear boundaries within which you will operate. Political conversations in a group setting rarely end well, so the best practice is to agree not to talk politics during your group meeting. That expectation needs to be stated and agreed upon by everyone in the group, so that when an out of line comment is made you have a very clear boundary to reference in redirecting your group members. Make sure the boundaries are reasonable, clear and that you will uphold them. Alan Danielson has some great suggestions on how to respond when someone violates these limits ( read Alan’s article here ).
Address the Bigger Issue
Not everyone in your group may like or understand the boundary of not allowing political talk, so as you establish that expectation use it as a great teachable moment to refocus on the bigger issue. As Rick Howerton explains, too often political discussions allow a secondary gospel to become primary—the gospel of one party or another. Your goal is to make sure the pure gospel of Jesus Christ is the target and that no obstacles are placed between that target and the hearts of your group members. Use this discussion as a chance to refocus on the purpose of your group: to grow in Christ-likeness.
Address it from Scripture
One of the evidences of life-change in Christ-followers is the Bible increasingly becomes the sole filter through which decisions and values are made. Some of the confusion or tension related to politics is uncertainty about the relationship believers should have to government and political views. Use this as a great opportunity to help hone that biblical filter by exploring what the Bible has to say about how to function in the world, without being of the world. Here are some great passages to start with: Jer. 29:4-7; Matt. 4:17-22; 5:13-16; 13:33; Acts: 27-32; Rom. 13:1-7; Eph. 6:10-18; 1 Tim. 2:1-2; 1 Pt. 2:7. Or consider using a study resource like this one from Christianity Today (print or electronic copies available upon request).
STUDY: Dual Citizenship: A Christian Perspective on Government (Christianity Today) Preview [contact Josh for print or electronic version]
STUDY: Gospel in Life (Timothy Keller) Video Preview [study available for checkout]
Though not geared toward politics exclusively, this is a great in-depth study of the gospel’s influence on every part of life.
BOOK: City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era (Michael Gerson & Peter Wehner) CBD