There’s no doubt something fundamental is changing before our eyes. (I wrote about some of that in a post called 5 Predictions About the US Presidential Election.) Unquestionably, things will never quite be the same again.
If anything, this recent election has confused Christians as to how to respond. Often, the suggested responses are political.
I’d like to take a different tack. Here are four initial suggestions for churches after the election.
At least these are suggestions that have helped me as I try to navigate life as a Christian and church leader in the slightly more post-modern, post-Christian country of Canada (if you’re interested, you can learn more about ministry in a Canadian context here on my brand new podcast).
I say this as a big fan of America and a huge proponent of the American church. And I write it because I think as we all sense in this current age, as goes America, so goes the world.
1. Regardless of your political views, see this season as an opportunity, not an obstacle
Some people see the defeat of their candidate as a defeat for the Gospel. Or, conversely, they see the election of a candidate as a validation of the Gospel.
Americans have been in the relatively unique position of having their candidates represent some of their views in Washington. That’s something most of the rest of the world doesn’t experience.
Yet many Christians would now say none of the major political candidates accurately represent their views or morality.
Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so.
You can see the massive changes in the US political landscape as an obstacle or an opportunity. What if it’s an opportunity?
What if this is a great opportunity to show your friends and neighbours how the church is truly different from the political culture, which Americans are tired of anyway (according to the election results)?
Just remember, your salvation doesn’t come from a political party; it comes from a cross.
Even if your candidate won, that’s not your salvation.
Political solutions are always partial anyway. They can never heal the soul. That is the work of Jesus and his church. And an incredible opportunity.
2. Be the church
The time has never been better for the church to be the church. Not a political action committee. Not a mouthpiece for a political party. Just the church.
As we’ve said in this space before, if God has all the same opinions your political party does anyway, you’re probably not worshipping God.
Being the church is inherently personal. You don’t go to church… you arethe church.
Your church is not something you attend or simply agree with, it’s something you are. You bring it home, to work, to times with friends. You are the church everywhere you go.
Which means you bring the love, hope, and truth of Christ everywhere you go.
Authentic, grace-filled, hope-bearing, truthful people are what our friends and neighbours need.
So go. The nation andthe world needs so much more of that right now. Maybe that’s what you can bring with you today when you walk into the office, instead of a cynical diatribe.
3. Foster a genuine friendship with someone who is completely different than you
If you want to know what being the church looks like, maybe it looks like this: sparking a genuine friendship with someone who is completely different than you.
Regardless of who you voted or didn’t vote for, almost every analyst is calling this the most divisive election campaign in recent history.
It was great of President-elect Trump to talk about unity in his acceptance speech. It is much needed and I hope that’s a repeated theme. But unity and division do not simply come from politicians.
Politicians reveal and amplify what’s already there. Had there been no division or bigotry in our hearts, there would have been very little in the election. Unity and division begin and end with us.
Check out your kitchen table. Think back to your last five gatherings. Do they mostly consist of people who look and sound just like you? We humans are famous for surrounding ourselves with people who look, sound, and believe exactly like we do. Christians aren’t often an exception to that rule.
What if you built three genuine friendships with people who are different than you in the next year: someone of a different colour, socio-economic status, belief system, marital status or even sexual orientation?
Before you think that’s scandalous, just know it puts you in great company. Jesus spent a lot of time doing just that.
Why? Because he was in the process of saving the world, not saving himself.
Last time I checked, we were too, in and through the power of Christ.
4. Start Confessing
All of this leads to the final suggestion today: how much of the negativity can you own… personally?
I know when there’s a problem, I would rather assign blame than assume responsibility. And I also know there’s zero progress that way.
Confession bridges the gap between blame and responsibility.
Maybe if the church got better at confessing and not blaming, we’d have a better church.
What can you confess today? What part of this do you own? Who have you hurt? Who do you hate? Have you mistreated anyone? Even if it’s the neighbour on your side of the street, start there.
You’re worried about your kids watching politicians and mimicking them. I promise you that your kids are watching you more closely than they’re watching any politician. So take your personal sins seriously.
Confess them. Repent. Change.
When I confess my sins (as a husband, father, leader and friend), everyone around me begins to heal.
Imagine if that happened 10,000 times over today in families, churches, and communities.
Carey Nieuwhof is founding pastor of Connexus Church and is author of several best-selling books, including his latest #1 best-selling work, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow.
Carey speaks to church leaders around the world about leadership, change and personal growth. In addition to writing one of the mostly widely read Christian leadership blogs in the world, Carey hosts the top-rated Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast where he interviews some of today’s best leaders.