After August’s Charlottesville rally by white nationalists ended in violence, many social media users demanded that pastors speak out during Sunday services or be deemed complicit. Must preachers apply the gospel to breaking news?
Responses arranged from “yes” to “no.”
“The church needs to become part of the voice on hot news stories. Jesus was constantly referring to stories of the day and putting his spin on hot topics. Often he said, ‘You have heard it said, . . . but I say to you.’ I think any time we can reference the gospel and insert biblical truth into a hot topic, we should consider it. When the gospel specifically speaks to a hot topic, by all means, use that topic to share the Good News and the love of Jesus.”
~ Alex Himaya, senior pastor, theChurch.at, Tulsa
“As long as it promotes the gospel and equips the saints to live more faithfully, I would not avoid carefully applying God’s Word to current events. However, it takes wisdom and care to broach current issues in a way that serves—and does not detract from—the Bible’s eternal message. I find it necessary to broach current events when they get in the way of people seeing Christ. When people are anxious, grieved, confused, or distracted, don’t run from the issues. Instead, show them Christ’s sovereign compassion over them.”
~ Mika Edmondson, pastor, New City Fellowship, Grand Rapids, MI
“Pastors do not need to be experts on every current event, but neither should they view these tragedies or cultural tensions as distractions from pastoral work. They are some of the most practical opportunities to help our people engage this world in gospel-shaped ways. The church should be the space where people learn the ways of lament and grief over brokenness, the ways of prophetic righteous witness against injustice, and the ways of love and grace in the midst of a very lost world that needs Jesus.”
~ Vermon Pierre, lead pastor for preaching and mission, Roosevelt Community Church, Phoenix
“I don’t think pastors should opine on every headline. Which issues they address are up to their discernment and context. Part of the reason this practice seems so difficult is not because Scripture is silent on current events but because we address them with such infrequency that the instances in which we actually do stand out like a sore thumb. If we were to address issues more regularly, while still doing so biblically and respectfully, our congregations would be far less scandalized when we do.”
~ Peter Chin, senior pastor, Rainier Avenue Church, Seattle
“It’s not so much addressing events that concerns me but the delirious rush to do so that may come from pressure or fear more than prayer, Scripture, stillness, and wisdom. Social media can flatten the discussion, so it seems that all there is to say about God is whatever is being talked about today. But there are endless dimensions and facets to God and his Word, and they are all relevant—whether they are touching the day’s trending topic or not.”
~ Tish Harrison Warren, co-associate rector, Church of the Ascension, Pittsburgh
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