Who Should a Pastor Endorse?

I was minding my own business. One of my Monday habits is to create a document with the Lectionary Texts for the upcoming Sunday. I include the broader passage from which each text comes. And, for New Testament texts I include the Greek text with apologies to my Hebrew professors from Seminary.

Chris Erdman, in his little book Countdown to Sunday, suggests creating a document with wide margins in which to record thoughts and reflections on the texts throughout the week. Ever since I read the rationale for his weekly habits, I have used a few for myself. You may teach an old dog new tricks.

Living with the texts – Erdman’s recommendation – for the week is akin to Joe Thorn’s admonition to preach to myself. My notes are not as attractive as Joe’s. Maybe it is the lack of squares on my page. Or, it could be the beard.

Then it happened. Marty dropped me an email pointing to a recent report published by Lifeway Research. It seems that in some parts Sunday, October 7, is up for grabs. Talk about swing states, how about swing days? The Alliance Defending Freedom has designated Sunday, “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.” Why not, “Pastoral Rebellion Sunday?” We pastors need new PR. Nothing sends the proper signal to a congregation like a little pastoral rebellion. Youth, you think there are some crazy laws on the books? Watch this!

I am now perplexed. After preaching for more than 30 years it seems I have been endorsing the wrong candidate. If President Obama can campaign for office in at least 3 out of his first 4 years as President, then as a pastor, I guess, I could deviate from the Sacred Text at least one Sunday to tell my congregation for whom I will vote – and for whom I expect them to vote. Though, they do not know our congregation.

Lifeway discovered that more Protestant pastors think I should stick with the Sacred Text and, I presume, Jesus. Good for whomever them is. Eighty-seven percent believe a pastor should not endorse a political candidate for public office. Good thing. If I had to choose this election cycle, it has been clear for those reading here, I would not have an endorsement. I still think we are choosing the lesser of two evils. I don’t like evil.

The question, “Who should a pastor endorse,” gives the impression he may equivocate from the Sacred Text. I realize that in the hands of any one the text means what he or she wants it to mean. Quickly the right points the finger at the left. “Those liberals are at it again.” If they would just “preach Jesus.” But, in this instance, those who will participate in these pulpit games will be conservatives who decide to endorse a candidate rather than endorse Jesus. No, we cannot conflate the two. Jesus is not running for President.

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

18 comments on “Who Should a Pastor Endorse?

  1. Steve Martin says:

    Our pastor uses politics only to put a pox on both their houses.

    As Christians, we are free to vote for whomever we decide will best lead.

    But we ought never mix politics and the gospel. The gospel is far too important to alienate half the congregation that it might be a stumbling block for the Word.

    1. Steve,
      I do think your consistent contentions we distinguish between politics and gospel requires great care. But, in one sense, do you think that, as Christians, living the gospel in the world affects/intersects our civil lives (politics) in ways the two cannot be entirely separated?

      1. Steve Martin says:

        Christians living out the implications of the gospel will be engaged in this world. But there will be different opinions as to the best ways to help people.

        What ‘we do’ and how we should do it, is a law issue and is temporal.

        The gospel is a free gift, separate from anything that we might do, or not do in this life.

        My 2 cents, Todd.

        Thank you, friend.

        1. Thanks, Steve.

          You are quite right, opinions will vary. I would only tweak your line about the gospel as free gift. It is indeed free but it weighs heavily on what we do or do not do in this life. That seems to be both Jesus’ contention with the Pharisees and with the other New Testament writers in their call to walk, live, in particular ways in light of the gospel.

          I appreciate you 2 cents.

          1. Steve Martin says:


            We Lutherans believe that it is a free gift of His grace and mercy (the gospel). We don’t have to DO anything to receive it. That is why it is called ‘grace’.

            But, as my pastor says, “now that you don’t have to do anything…what will you do?”

            We truly are free in Christ. And that freedom is for something. The neighbor. But we are all less than great stewards of that freedom. Thanks be to God that we are forgiven and loved, totally aside from what we do, say, feel, or think.

            Thanks, Todd.

          2. Steve,

            We Baptists also believe grace is a free gift. And, even more, some of us believe the excess of the gift ruins the possibility that I could ever “repay” with my actions of any sort. But, the explicit call is that now that you have received the gift, and its excess, the only conscionable response is life devoted to the way of Jesus. Or, as you put it from your Pastor, “What will you do?”

            We also share the understanding that the excess of the gift points us outward rather than inward. The neighbor becomes the recipient of our living out Jesus’ way. Thereby, we fulfill Paul’s summary statement of the law, “love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no law against loving neighbor.

            The excess of forgiveness also drives us. In fact, that we encounter the excess of forgiveness creates the occasion for we who follow Jesus to forgive as extravagantly.

          3. Steve Martin says:

            Amen, Todd.

            Those who have heard the gospel, want to love. It’s the natural outflow of the love that He has shown us.

            It’s like breathing, after one is born. It will just come.

            Thanks, friend.

    1. Emily,

      In the spirit of your recent Latin test score, “gratias tibi ago.” And, no I do not know Latin but Google is very helpful at this point.

  2. Rick Davis says:

    Oh, evil man that thou art! Pastors rebelling? When did you guys grow a backbone? I fear for your…your…your…I don’t know what all.

    I told you years ago to stop thinking. It just leads to trouble.

    Now look.

    1. “Thou art the man.” When you look in the mirror and wonder, know that your influence extends beyond Texas.

  3. lwr says:

    My understanding is that the church building is for the edification of the saints. If a non-saint is there, they will hopefully be pierced by the preaching of God’s word.

    That being said, a good pastor will preach so people KNOW who they should vote for. If a pastor isn’t preaching what the bible has to say about abortion, homsexuality, adultery, thievery, justice, mercy, etc.. then the pastor’s not preaching.

    A pastor should clearly connect the bible and the application of the bible to everyday life.

    In the end, he won’t have to actually endorse anyone because a Christian should be voting for someone who is closest to those attributes.

    In most instances, it’s perfectly clear.

    1. lwr,

      Interesting implications from a Christian, I presume, who rather than self-identify would offer an anonymous email address to legitimate a comment.

      Given that practice what Christian theme would that fall under when preaching so as to help a person make the obvious choice?

      Pastors who preach with the intention to persuade a listener to vote, in my opinion, will always create a measure of angst for said Scriptures call for allegiance to Jesus and to live at peace with all people. If that s the case it seems to me the choices are not always as easy as you portend.

  4. lwr says:

    My name is Lew.

    You used persuaded, I use exhorted.

    EXHORT’, v.t. egzhort’. L. exhortor; ex and hortor, to encourage, to embolden, to cheer, to advise. The primary sense seems to be to excite or to give strength, spirit or courage.

    1. To incite by words or advice; to animate or urge by arguments to a good deed or to any laudable conduct or course of action.

    I exhort you to be of good cheer. Acts. 27.

    Young men also exhort to be sober minded.

    Exhort servants to be obedient to their masters. Tit.2.

    2. To advise; to warn; to caution.

    3. To incite or stimulate to exertion.

    EXHORT’, v.i. To deliver exhortation; to use words or arguments to incite to good deeds.

    And with many other words did he testify and exhort. Acts.2.

    EXHORTA’TION, n. The act or practice of exhorting; the act of inciting to laudable deeds; incitement to that which is good or commendable.

    1. The form of words intended to incite and encourage.

    2. Advice; counsel.

    EXHORT’ATIVE, a. Containing exhortation.

    EXHORT’ED, pp. Incited by words to good deeds; animated to a laudable course of conduct; advised.

    EXHORT’ER, n. One who exhorts or encourages.

    EXHORT’ING, ppr. Inciting to good deeds by words or arguments; encouraging; counseling.

    Yes, shouldn’t be persuaded by your pastor to do the right thing. You should be exhorted to do so!

    A pastor should NEVER try to persuade you to not have an adulterous affair.

    Or, abort a fetus

    Or, steal

    Or, dress modestly

    Or, live your life on welfare. Who was said if you don’t work you don’t eat?

    Nor, have steal from someone else.


    1. Lew,
      I think we are talking past one another.

      My comment about persuasion was, “Pastors who preach with the intent to persuade to vote . . ..” The common feature of persuasion and exhortation is the use of argument. Paul was considered to have persuaded many, and almost others. He did so with argument.

      I think you are correct, pastors should exhort Jesus people to follow his Way and in his manner – which is my point.

      My contention is that the thin line between candidates in our current election cycle is only distinct by a platform piece. Romney, for example, recently noted he had no intention to put forward, via any means, a challenge to Roe v Wade. He would be in keeping with every Republican President since Roe v Wade to have declined to challenge the position. It amounts to subscribing to one thing in order to garner those of us who wish to end abortion, but in fact not doing anything to really bring a challenge or change.

      Full disclosure here – I did not vote for a Presidential candidate in 2008 but voted otherwise. I am inclined to do so again on the grounds neither deserves my vote. So, my move as a pastor is to encourage people to bring the Kingdom of God to bear on their surroundings, relationships, etc. as the greater move that will persuade and exhort by pointing to Jesus.

      Others will and do disagree with me. I understand. I may yet vote. But, there is not injunction in the Scripture requiring me to support a candidate I find difficult by conscience.

      1. lwr says:


        I apologize that I didn’t read it that way. It does appear we were talking past one another.

        Many are willing to vote lesser of two, when both are evil. Another line is, I’ll vote the devil I know vs. the devil I don’t. On a secular level I can understand that. One a Christian level, I can’t.

        However, my vote WILL count, but it won’t count for one of the big two. I will revert to a 3rd party candidate as I have in the past for all levels unless there is a good candidate available otherwise. In the state I live in, there’s as much a chance of that happening as snow and gehenna.

        I don’t go in voting party line since I’m a registered unenrolled. Vote the best candidate. Sitting this one out has crossed my mind, but I’m not sure I would do that.

        Again, sorry.

        1. Lew,

          The nature of this sort of medium often results in our misunderstanding one another.

          Third-party candidates are an option, but sometimes they are as fringe riding on important issues as those from the Big Two (which is to me really the Big One masquerading as two.) The situation is problematic to be sure.

          I will vote. It is just a matter of whether or not I will fill out the ballot. In Oklahoma, we may sit out the Presidential vote, but mark a choice for all others without discounting our ballot. Something I just recently learned.

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