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Democrats and Republicans Should All Feel Welcome at Your Church, Says Andy Stanley

andy stanley
Photo courtesy of Andy Stanley

Is your church welcoming to all people, whether they are Democrats, Republicans or affiliated with another political party? It should be, said Andy Stanley in a recent interview on the Stetzer ChurchLeaders Podcast

“If the Democrats are as evil and as anti-family and as anti-God as they have been made out to be,” said Stanley, “then they are the mission field. Well, if they are the mission field, why in the world would we want to position our church so that the people we’re convinced are lost and hell-bound aren’t welcome in our church?”

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Andy Stanley: Don’t Politicize Your Church

Andy Stanley is an author and pastor who founded North Point Ministries in 1995 in Atlanta. He joined Ed Stetzer and co-host Daniel Yang to discuss his new book, “Not in It to Win It: Why Choosing Sides Sidelines the Church,” released on May 10. Because the interview was recorded before Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s draft was leaked, the discussion did not touch on Roe v. Wade or the current debate among some evangelicals about what it means to be truly pro-life

Stanley emphasized the danger of churches becoming politicized and said that at a very surface-level, most Christians would agree with him on that point. Yet many don’t understand that true believers can come to different conclusions about which political party they will support. He said, 

If I were to do a message on, ‘Don’t wrap your faith around your politics, you need to adjust your politics according to your faith,’ everybody listening to me would go, ‘That’s exactly right. And that’s exactly what I’ve done—the reason I’m a Republican is because I’m a Christian.’ And there’s another group that’s like, ‘No, the reason I’m a Democrat is because I’m a Christian.’ And so it is so difficult to tease this out and figure this out and to be honest with ourselves and to listen to others.

Pastors need to be aware of how their comments from the pulpit could unnecessarily alienate people in the congregation, said Stanley. His point was not that church leaders should avoid taking a moral position on a particular issue. Rather, pastors should be cautious about indicating if they are for or against a particular political party. Stanley explained:

The cheap shots pastors take about Biden or Trump or any other local official, to preach in such a way or use illustrations in such a way that it’s very, very clear that if I’m a Democrat, I’m probably not going to love it here. If I’m a Republican, [I won’t feel welcome].…that’s politicizing. It’s elevating a political party or a political platform with political terminology over the purpose of the local church. And it’s so anti-missional…and it is so anti-Great Commission.

It can be difficult for Christians to see when they are politicizing their faith, said Stanley, but one way for them to tell if they are is to evaluate if they are supporting their party no matter what. He said, “If I’m not willing to break ranks with my political party when my political party gets it wrong on an issue where the New Testament…is clear, then I have elevated my party over my faith.” 

Another sign of danger is if Christians are not willing to be truthful and open with others about their disagreements with their party. “If I just remain silent in order not to rock the boat or not to lose friends on the Left or Right,” said Stanley, “as a Christian, I have just said not, ‘One nation under God.’ I’ve said, ‘My God, under my nation.’ That’s what I’m declaring.”  

Yet while many Christians would agree that elevating one’s country over God is wrong, Stanley believes many of us do so without realizing it. “Because of the nature of what’s happened in our culture politically and because everything is so politicized, so many Christians, I think unintentionally end up there,” he said. “And it’s our responsibility as church leaders to call that out and, of course, to examine our own hearts, because we are all so susceptible to that.”