Most of us associate politics with control or Machiavellian manipulation, and therefore we pretend that the church is above it. Jesus, we like to say, was not into politics. He didn't even try to save his own skin when he could. We prefer to think of the church as a no-politics zone.
I always had a streak of naìvete about this. I became a little smarter as the years went on, but only a little. Not a political schemer myself, I didn't dream that some people in the church ate, breathed, and slept politics, and were invariably up to something.
That was before I became senior minister of a church where each monthly council session was a political battleground. I disliked having to think like a politician in order to conduct ministry. As exciting as it was, I soon tired of trying to preside over that church.
In the years since, I have realized how much easier my life as a minister might have been, and possibly how much more effective, if I had been more aware of how political the ...1