the shape of leadership

Beyond the Politics

The local church has something better to offer

A recent report from Pew Research Center shows Americans generally view religion favorably. Yet it seems there is one topic people would rather not hear about at church: politics.

More than half of U.S. adults (55%) say organized religion does more good than harm in American society, compared to 20% who say the opposite and 24% who believe it makes no difference. Two-thirds (66%) of all Americans say religious leaders have high ethical standards. Among those who attend services at least a few times a year, 88% say the leaders of their congregations are highly ethical, and 78% hold this view of religious leaders in general.

When it comes to politics, however, 63% of U.S. adults — and 54% of those identifying as Christians — want churches to stay out of the fray.

In this season of partisan politics and divisive rhetoric, it seems many are weary.

Most Americans express a lot of confidence that clergy can provide guidance on growing closer to God (68%) and interpreting Scripture (60%). But far fewer have a great deal of confidence in the ability of religious leaders to help them navigate complex political issues like immigration (20%) and global climate change (13%).

Not surprisingly, Christian churchgoers are much more likely to agree with their pastors on religious matters (88%) than on politics (64%). This holds true for both Democrats and Republicans.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

In this season of partisan politics and divisive rhetoric, it seems many are weary. They need a refuge from the noise. They are seeking truth that transcends the kingdoms of this world — and they are looking to the local church to provide it. What an opportunity to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, good news that breaks down dividing walls and changes hearts.

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2020 edition of Influence magazine.

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