Five Ways Pastors Can Encourage Their Members to Vote
Among the many gifts and resources God gives to a pastor is that of influence. It has been said that what a pastor does with that influence is his gift to God. In Matthew 25, Jesus shares the parable of the wise and foolish stewards. The wise stewards were blessed for actively investing the resources given to them by their master, while the foolish steward, frozen by fear, hid his gifts and limited his influence (and blessing).
This parable provides a reminder of the reality that we will all stand before God and give an account for how we have managed and invested the resources He’s given to us. And for pastors, after sharing the Gospel, one of the most unique and helpful ways to steward influence is by encouraging Christians to exercise their right to vote. This investment of influence has a multiplying and far-reaching impact in local communities and beyond. In fact, someone once said, “To fail to vote is to cast a vote toward tyranny. But to vote biblical values is to potentially impact eternity.”
So, how can a pastor use his influence to encourage his members to vote and thereby impact our country for eternal purposes? Consider these five approaches:
Emphasize Biblical principles.
A pastor’s primary role is to teach God’s Word (Matthew 28:19-20), and this emphasis must remain the highest priority. The Bible is still the most practical and relevant Book for the issues of our day, and only this Book has the power to bring lasting change. It is imperative then, that church members are led by their pastors to discern the particular current day issues the Bible addresses. Encouraging members to vote while in a small group or service setting does not need to be a high pressured persuasive rant, but rather, a practical outflow and application of the biblical principles being lovingly communicated on a weekly basis.
Focus on equipping members.
Ephesians 4:12 reminds us of another role the pastor is to fulfill—and that is to equip the saints. A primary way to equip members for the work of ministry in our communities is by sharing practical, non-partisan information about candidates, legislation, and local measures on which they can vote. It is completely lawful and appropriate, for instance, for a pastor to make non-partisan voter guides available in an effort to equip their members with specific information they need to make well-informed, Bible-based decisions. Commit to providing tools and updates that will help your congregation engage the culture and make a difference.
Promote Biblically-minded leaders.
In the poetic book of Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah, lamenting the deteriorating state of his own nation, wrote that his eye affected his heart—what he saw moved him. As our congregations are exposed to the wickedness of society on a daily basis, it is important for pastors to allow their congregations to also be exposed to leaders who stand for truth and justice. While the state of our nation may leave some discouraged, or outraged or even apathetic—leaders who align with biblical values provide a moving and powerful challenge to compassionately stand for (and act on) biblical convictions. Pastors can invite these public servants to their churches without endorsing them or their political parties, yet still provide an opportunity to be moved to action on behalf of their communities.
Be willing to take a stand.
It goes without saying that in today’s culture, true courage is required to take a stand for what Scripture teaches. At some point, pastors will face ridicule, pressure, and mockery for aligning with biblical truths. The temptation to back down or withdraw from the fight is understandable. Yet, in the midst of the battle, congregations are longing for their pastors to engage—to provide leadership to help them navigate the tumultuous waters of culture. How churches would be helped by pastors who aren’t worried about being liked, but are rather focused on providing bold and loving direction for their flock! The psalmist asked the question in Psalm 19, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Pastors must stand and build on the biblical foundations that provide stability and certainty in difficult times—boldly proclaiming what the righteous can do to bring positive change.
Develop an action-oriented culture.
In an effort to steward God-given influence and leadership, effective pastors cultivate an environment that is focused on action. We see this exemplified by the Apostle Paul, who often engaged with political leaders and taught the church at Rome to lovingly “do good” in the midst of a hostile culture. (Romans 13) Meaningful impact happens as people live out their convictions and act on Bible principles. So, strive to equip your congregation for action! Structure time into your small groups or after service gatherings to help people register to vote. Text members a link for voter registration. Announce election days and encourage voter turnout. Most states will even allow churches to gather ballots from their congregants and deliver them to the polls! Consider what you can do to activate your church and propel them into the rewarding experience of making a difference.
America is in the middle of a hostile political climate. The tendency to play it safe is felt by many leaders in the faith community. Yet, now is not the time to freeze in fear or hide what influence we have been given. As wise stewards and spiritual leaders, may we make eternal investments by using our influence to engage the culture, protect our freedoms, and boldly shine His light.