It can be difficult for churches to moderate political discussions during an election year. The Media Center offers several resources to foster civil discussions among church members that help to establish ground rules and remind us of our shared identity in Christ. Consider using the resources listed below in your small group or for individual reading as we are in the midst of yet another contentious election year.
Preaching Politics: Proclaiming Jesus in an Age of Money, Power, and Partisanship by Clay Stauffer, Chalice Press, 2016. This new book is designed to teach preachers and church leaders how to successfully preach politics, specifically on the issue of money, to a congregation with a wide range of opinions. The author considers United Methodist pastor Adam Hamilton and Duke professor Stanley Hauerwas as examples.
Politics and the Pulpit: A Guide to the Internal Revenue Code Restrictions on the Political Activity of Religious Organizations by The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 2002. This booklet covers what is legal and illegal for churches to say and do in regards to politics. An updated version from 2012 is available online.
Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White: Thoughts on Religion, Morality, and Politics by Adam Hamilton, 2008. Many of our churches like United Methodist Pastor Adam Hamilton’s studies because he is excellent at walking a mainline and explaining his approach through careful understanding of scripture. This older study of his specifically addresses how to civilly discuss politics as Christians.
When Christians Get It Wrong by Adam Hamilton, 2010. Rev. Hamilton followed up Seeing Gray with this study a few years later that addresses hot topics such as homosexuality, other religions, science, God’s will, and politics but focuses on how we can best talk about these issues in a divided and hurting world so that we are appropriate messengers of Christ’s grace and love.
Confronting the Controversies: Biblical Perspectives on Tough Issues by Adam Hamilton, 2005. This even older study by Rev. Hamilton addresses some similar issues such as homosexuality and the separation of church and state while also including the death penalty, euthanasia, abortion, and creation, evolution and prayer in public schools. All of these discussions feature his characteristic mainline approach that help us to talk about these issues civilly even though we may disagree.
Hijacked: Responding to the Partisan Church Divide by Michael Slaughter and Charles E. Gutenson, 2012. Another of our favorite United Methodist pastors and authors, Mike Slaughter, joins forces with Asbury Seminary professor Charles E. Gutenson to pen this helpful book about the political divide in the church, its damaging effect, and a way forward for more healthy political discussions that bring to light the holistic nature of the gospel of Christ.
Nooma: Bullhorn by Rob Bell, 2002. The popular DVD series Nooma by Rob Bell features 10-15 minute videos that serve as thought-provoking discussion starters for small groups. This particular episode asks about the role that the love of Christ plays in our relationships with people that we disagree with.
Golden Rule Politics by The Baptist Center for Ethics, 2007. This DVD series looks at the controversial comments of public and religious figures in popular media and asks us to transcend political ideologies and focus on the gospel of Christ.
God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It by Jim Wallis, 2005. In this abridged audiobook, Pastor Wallis attempts to reconcile political ideology and biblical theology declaring that neither political party is fully sharing the message of Christ.
Justice in Everyday Life: A Look at the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church by Neal Christie, 2014. The official position of The United Methodist Church on many political issues can be found in the Social Principles. This living document is carefully considered in this book that is also used in Lay Servant Ministry certification. The book can be used in a 5-session study and includes modules on teaching the Social Principles and the biblical foundation for them.
Becoming the People of God: Opting for Virtue in Public Life edited by Wayne G. Reece, 2003. This older series of books also looked at the Social Principles. This volume in particular considers United Methodist positions on Christians in public life. It addresses topics such as political responsibility, human rights, education, and restorative justice.