Why I Study the Presidents

When I was a child, my favorite volume of the World Book Encyclopedia was “P.” It was not because I was fascinated with that letter or that I felt I need to study the platypus. I was drawn to that particular volume because it was there that all the presidents, at least through our mid-1960s version, were listed and discussed.

In that volume, I could see what presidents like Buchanan and Chester A. Arthur looked like. (As an aside, I was never tempted to grow muttonchops like Arthur, but he did make them his own.) I learned about the presidency and how it had evolved through the years.

I was fascinated with the presidency, and that fascination has only grown through the years. Many of my friends know that Election Day, to me, is bigger than Super Bowl Sunday. I will sit back and watch the returns and analyze what may or may not happen. As well, my favorite books to read are histories and biographies on the presidents and the time they served. For my money, you cannot go wrong with Ronald White, Jr.’s “A. Lincoln” or David McCullough’s “John Adams.” Continue reading “Why I Study the Presidents”

Five Tips to Help Pastors Work With the Media

Yesterday, I had the privilege of speaking to the clergy of the Frankfort District about the media and how pastors can work with the media in their ministries. As a young pastor, it was humbling to be asked to use my experience in the field of journalism to offer some words to pastors who have been doing this a lot longer than I have. I was very appreciative of the kind words and feedback that I received, as well.

I thought I would share the tips I presented yesterday. I firmly believe that engaging and utilizing the local media resources in our communities can be an effective means of outreach and spreading the word about what God is doing in our churches. So, I share these for the benefit of others who are searching for better ways to work with the Fourth Estate.

What follows after the jump are my thoughts and some perspectives on each tip. Continue reading “Five Tips to Help Pastors Work With the Media”

Tips for a Pastor in an Election Year

In any community, pastors maintain a large network of influence that goes beyond the walls of their assigned congregation. We are seen as God’s representatives in a community and, for better or worse, the community’s moral compass. That’s why many look to pastors for guidance on community issues and concerns.

Many pastors have the ability to serve their communities with grace and humility without abusing their influence as pastors. But, pastors are human and we can make mistakes in judgments just like anyone else. One area where the potential for making mistakes in judgment can occur is when pastors enter into political discussions, especially in an election year. Pastors run the risk of abusing their influence in a community, and in their church, by becoming partisan in their discussion of certain issues or advocating one candidate over another.

For the most part, pastors are unprepared on how to properly engage the political sphere and how to be cautious in an election cycle. The most advice many pastors receive is to be political without being partisan. That is sound advice. However, it raises a question: What does that mean? The pastor is left to interpret the statement for themselves and their congregation. (For the record, my conference has done an excellent job of getting information to pastors about how to be political without being partisan.)

In general, the statement intends for the pastor to not vocally support a political candidate from the pulpit, while leaving open for the pastor to engage the many social issues facing our communities, nation, and world. However, a pastor would be wise to not stop with just that suggestion. A pastor must be cautious in all areas in how to engage the political without being partisan. As a former journalist and public policy writer who is currently a pastor, I offer these few tips to pastors who desire to be political without being partisan.  Continue reading “Tips for a Pastor in an Election Year”