Do I have your attention? My prediction: this will be my most viewed blog post of 2015. Why? Because I’m mentioning politics and I’m a Pastor. That’s controversial and controversy catches people’s attention.
So, I Like Donald Trump.
I like his Page. I actually liked Donald Trump on The Apprentice and living in New York it’s impossible not to see much of the positive impact he has had on the city.
As a politician, I’ll leave my opinions to myself.
My wife sent me this text yesterday: “You like Donald Trump?”
I responded: “What are you talking about?”
She said: “I noticed a post on Facebook from Donald Trump and it showed next to the post that you like him. Do you think that’s a good idea?”
My response was that I “Like” Donald Trump along with pretty much every other presidential candidate so I can better track him or her through my News Feed. The problem is that this simple “Like” communicates to others that I’m probably voting for Donald Trump and support the things that he stands for. Even without saying a word I can get myself in trouble when it comes to social media and politics as a Pastor.
To say that pastors addressing politics is a sticky matter is a massive understatement.
The reality is pastors are people and they have opinions. The problem is that as a pastor you are a leader of people spiritually and often because of that spiritual authority your congregation takes everything you say to be truth rather than opinion. When it comes to politics we form opinions that are often based on truth, but at the core still just opinions and we have to be careful how we communicate them.
On social media we are given a very unique platform to share whatever we want. We can share inspirational messages, scriptural challenges, personal celebrations, and opinionated beliefs. This platform can be used for great good and, as we have seen so many times before, it can also be used in a very divisive and destructive manner intentionally or unintentionally. Many times the statements (through words or even Likes) made on social media are misunderstood, but it often doesn’t matter if they are understood or not because conclusions are formed regardless of our intentions. We must understand the potential consequences as we navigate delicate and divisive conversations and this is particularly critical when it comes to social media.
To be honest, I’m anxious even writing this post even though I'm not making a political statement, but rather just addresses politics. It’s that sensitive and for so many, incredibly personal.
So, as we continue into this political season I want to encourage you with a few Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to pastors, politics & social media:
- DO encourage your congregants to watch debates and pay attention to politics. Electing our governmental leaders is an incredibly important role for every citizen!
- DO encourage your congregants to consider how each political stance aligns Biblically and with their spiritual beliefs.
- DO encourage your congregants to vote in a very educated way.
- DON’T push your personal opinions or political beliefs on your congregation.
- DON’T use social media to share your personal political stances. Yes, you do have the right as a person, but just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
- DON’T avoid politics all together. Just because it’s sensitive doesn’t mean you can’t mention it. Just be careful and encourage research, healthy dialogue and discernment.
What other best practices might you recommend? Do you disagree or agree with this post? I want to know and I think other pastors NEED to know.