Yesterday was a big election day in the United States. You may have heard that the republicans regained control of the house of representatives, gained several seats in the senate, and won several state governorships. The pundits are having a field day over all of this, and I can’t get enough of it. I love following politics and consider myself a news junkie, so elections are pretty exciting for me.
Of course, living in Washington D.C. makes it even more exciting. While I live about a mile west of the beltway, my church is firmly inside it, and you can’t escape the effects of the proximity to power and politics everywhere you turn.
Most people here, whether or not they’re as much of a news and politics junkie as I am, have pretty strong opinions about this stuff. I certainly do. And my guess is that, whether or not you live in a big city with loads of power-players, you and the people in your congregation have strong opinions too. They might not be able to name the republican candidate who lost the primary in Delaware like I can, but they probably identify with one party more than the other and have a preference and/or opinion regarding who sits in the oval office.
I enjoy talking about this stuff with my friends and family – when it seems appropriate and when I think they’re interested (maybe). It’s always a bit tricky to communicate about these things in a non-judgmental and biblically informed way, but I still enjoy it.
I do draw the line, and encourage you to draw this line too, at trumpeting political views and candidate preferences in public and in front of the congregation whom I serve. Here are two reasons why:
You don’t want your congregation to think politics when they see you
Do me a favor and bring to mind a political candidate whose politics you find appalling. It could be anyone. A candidate for president, senator, congressman, or mayor. Now imagine you’re my friend on Facebook and I consistently post status updates and links extolling the virtue of said candidate. Would it be difficult for you to ignore that when you showed up to church and I stood before you to lead worship? Probably.
If, as a worship leader, you’re unabashed in your political views, it won’t bother those who agree with you one bit. But it’s the people who don’t agree with you who you should be worried about. If you’re concerned about helping people see and exalt the greatness of God when they come on Sunday mornings, then you should be concerned about how big a distraction you are. One way to be a distraction is to symbolize a politician they find appalling. It’s not worth it.
Your congregation pays your salary
It’s good to keep in mind that it’s your congregation’s sacrificial giving that enables you to have a job and a leadership position on staff. Particularly for those in the congregation who might share different convictions and political philosophies from you, it can be difficult when church staff use that platform to push a political ideology.
It’s a very good idea to discuss these things, openly and prayerfully, with people who you know and trust. What’s not a good idea is trumpeting your views for all to hear, since it will assuredly result in members of your congregation being more aware of what’s happening now in politics than what has happened for us on the cross. Point them to that, every chance you get.