Political Labels are Breaking Down. What Does that Mean for Ministry?
If you're one of Leadership Journal's many readers outside the United States, bear with us—we need to talk American politics for a moment (though the social trends at work here undoubtedly have implications far beyond the U.S. borders).
While most American have felt political polarization increasing in recent years—objectively illustrated in this graph—few of us can put a name to the emerging political realities that are replacing the simple old Republican/Democratic labels.
But recent Pew research puts helpful language to the current fracturing and diversification of the political landscape. They name 8 categories of emerging voters (and non-voters) today, with only 36% of the general public identified as a traditional Red or Blue "partisan anchor."
How does this intersect local ministry? Beyond immediate applications, like how you talk about politics (you're losing 64% of your audience if you assume that everyone is neatly Republican or Democrat), you also need to consider that people today are increasingly willing to form opinions that break with the crowd—on the right and the left. Values of environmental care, religious liberty, legalizing secular same-sex marriage, and pro-life legislation, for example, are no longer the domain of a simple political party.
Those habits intersect faith, too. The best place to start? Listen, don't assume, when it comes to engaging people on issues of politics, morality, and the social implications of faith.
While daunting for those who like easy political either/or choices, this is a trend indicative of new ways of thinking—many of which are encouraging for those of us who watch for a Kingdom beyond human government.
Where do you fit in? Take Pew's quiz.
Copyright © 2014 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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