How do you discuss politics civilly in such a politically charged culture?
Or should you even try?
Your group members may debate whether you should even talk about politics in small group meetings. Some would maintain that this could fracture a good group. Here’s my take: your group should be a great place to discuss politics IF you handle it well. Here are 25 important principles:
- Before you begin discussing politics, consider the spiritual and emotional maturity of your group members, as well as your group as a whole. As a shepherd leader, you should be able to gauge where people are and if they can follow the rest of these principles in a discussion.
- Before entering into the discussion, set the ground rules. Use some or all of the following as your basis for what and how you will discuss.
- Pray that God will lead this discussion and do what only he can do to use it for your good and his glory.
- Agree on how you will relate to one another. The following 12 New Testament guidelines provide some of the most important relational principles for any group discussion.
- Clothe yourselves in humility toward one another and each other’s positions and opinions (1 Pet. 5:5).
- Love one another deeply, from the heart (1 Pet. 1:22). Love covers over a multitude of political positions.
- Be at peace with one another (Mark 9:50) and live in harmony with one another (1Pet. 3:8). This is a decision of the will you make before any discussion, especially a political one.
- Honor one another above yourselves, and above your own political opinions (Ro. 12:10).
- Be patient, bearing with one another, and one anther’s political views, in love (Eph, 4:2).
- Accept one another, regardless of political views, just as Christ accepted each of you (Ro. 15:7).
- Be kind and compassionate to one another (Eph. 4:32).
- Do not slander one another (Col. 3:9). And while you’re at it, don’t slander the other person’s candidate or political party.
- Do not grumble against each other or each other’s candidate (Jas. 5:9).
- A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people (2 Tim. 2:24; see Prov. 17:14, 19).
- Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another (Col. 3:13).
- Pray for each other so that you (as Christ’s body) may be healed (Jas. 5:16).
- As you discuss issues, look at the larger context/perspective, that is, God’s story as revealed throughout Scripture.
- Discuss: What is the role of human government in God’s story? (Study Romans 13—all of it; don’t stop at verse 7—as a basis for this dialogue.)
- You may need to talk about the overall context of God’s story. What is it? It’s a story of redemption, so how is government part of or not a part of that story?
- As people turn to discuss/present specific issues, candidate and party positions, and their own ideas/opinions, always go back to Scripture to see what it says about these issues. The Bible, not a group member’s or politician’s opinion, is always your standard!
- If (when) group members turn the discussion toward a politician’s unethical, immoral, or illegal behaviors or words, turn the discussion toward Biblical principles for these issues. Use some of these as follow up questions: * God seeks leaders after his own heart (King David – 1 Sam. 13:14). In a secular government, how does that apply? * Let’s talk about us. The Bible says we’re all ministers/ambassadors for God (2 Cor. 5:18-20), so what importance does morality and ethics have for us? * We know God is sovereign; in other words, he’s in control in how his story unravels over time. How can we view the current political climate and what this election might mean from a big-picture point of view?
- Talk about the biblical role of government in today’s society that has become increasingly secular in a world that’s winding down toward Jesus’ coming.
- Discuss: How has God used secular government in the past to carry out his story/mission? How is he working today in and through government?
- View your discussion, even debate, as an opportunity to grow spiritually, not to make a point.
- Utilize this discussion as an opportunity to model for our culture what real hope, peace, love, and unity look like even when we disagree about issues.
God has a vision for your small group that is part of his grand story and is bigger, way bigger in fact, than current politics. Don’t let Satan divide you through what in the overall scheme of things amount to side issues.
Your group can bring glory to God and his kingdom by the way you relate to him, one another, and the world … by his power.
And that’s HUUUUGE!
How is your group dealing with politics? Get in on the discussion by clicking the comments box below!