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December 2015 entries

What Donald Trump's Popularity Should Teach the Church

Let me begin by stating that I do not publicly endorse any candidate for any office at anytime. I have strong political opinions that I share with family and friends, but I make it a policy to never speak as a pastor for or against any local or national party or candidate. So don't interpret what I am about to say as an endorsement of any kind. Here goes: I think that churches and preachers could learn a valuable lesson from Donald Trump.

Mr. Trump is bombastic and braggadocios.  Those are not the traits I think would advantageous for churches to emulate. Donald Trump doesn't seem to remember a time he ever had to ask for forgiveness. Nope, that is not a beneficial or realistic trait either. What I am referring to is his willingness to speak his mind without regard to public opinion. He says what he believes to be true. Whether it is only true in his mind or not can be debated. The fact is that he is not afraid to be taken to task for speaking his mind.  As he does his popularity continues to skyrocket. His rallies overflow and the news media covers his every word to the degree that Mr. Trump has no need to buy advertising.  

Now let's consider the church. A decade or so ago some churches and church leaders decided to take the non-offensive approach to church growth. They purposefully removed, from their messages and music, portions of the Christian faith that non-believers declared to be offensive. So essential doctrines like holiness, the necessity of the cross, the reality of hell and the exclusivity of Jesus Christ for salvation were either dismissed as not important or avoided entirely. For a season those churches saw an increase in attendance. The pastors and leaders justified their actions by pointing to the increase in the size of their congregations. What could not be immediately measured was the weakness of the faith of those ingesting doses of watered-down Christianity. Only now are we seeing the devastating effects of faith dictated by public opinion and political correctness. Mainline denominations are in a nose-dive decline. Many evangelical churches that adopted this new philosophy to gather a larger crowd have lost that crowd along with many who were with them prior to the change. What happened?

It has been my personal observation that people do not respect persons or organizations that twist in the wind of popular opinion. When times get tough they don't ask "where is the shifting sand?", but "where can I find a solid rock?"Churches and church leaders who consistently stand for what they believe are finding that people are more willing to listen to what they have to say. People are tired of those who only tell them what they want to hear. They may initially disagree with the church and its doctrine, but are increasingly drawn by the church's unwillingness to modify its doctrine to attract a larger crowd. An uncompromising stand for foundational truths is powerful in this uncertain world. So my advice is to take a play from Donald Trump's playbook. Speak out for what you believe. Never compromise your core beliefs to persuade those who will most likely abandon you or the cause later anyway.  We don't have to be offensive, but we should never apologize for the offensiveness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have been approached after a Sunday morning message to be told how much guts it took for me to speak on a certain unpopular topic. I am often taken back by the statement. I never think about whether a subject is controversial or unpopular. If its in the Bible it is my responsibility to say "this is what the Bible says about it." God never consulted me about the contents of His Book. I'm not preaching or teaching my opinion. I don't have the authority to change what the Bible says because it is currently unpopular. I am more concerned about God's opinion of me than I am afraid of what people may think. I would rather people respect me than like me. While I would not recommend the church adopt all of Mr. Trumps character traits, his unwavering resolve to say what he believes to be true should be a core value of those of us who believe in God's eternal Truth.

 
16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. Romans 1:16 (NKJV)