Undoubtedly, some in our church take our leadership’s lack of frequent and persistent addressing of current events as though we are just trying to avoid conflict, or that we are monks retreating from culture, or that we are ostriches with our heads in the sand. I don’t think such criticisms are valid. Really, we’re trying to give people a gift—whether they see it that way or not. Fifty-two Sundays a year, we seek to remind our people of an easily forgotten truth.
In Part 1 of this article, I surfaced many of the thorny issues related to talking about current events on a Sunday morning, especially from the pulpit. In Part 2 I want to explain how and why our church tends to favor a “less is best” approach.
To begin, let me circle back to something Trevin Wax wrote in his article “When Should a Church Address a Current Event?” Wax believes the pastor-elder team at a church must evaluate whether their church is too driven by cultural events. It’s not a hypothetical situation—if you don’t ever ask the question, your church might be driven by the trends on CNN or Fox or Twitter more than you realize.
Some people, including some pastors, love to follow current events the way a sports fan follows his or her team; staying current is both an enjoyable and meaningful hobby. They consume their favorite media outlet because they feel cultural awareness is essential but also because, let’s be honest, it feels good to be in the know.
There’s nothing wrong with this, but the danger, as I see it, comes when Christians spiritualize interest in current events while not so subtly implying, “All good Christians do the same.” As Trevin Wax writes, “In a given week, there is news from all over the world that could, in theory, swamp the service.” Indeed in our church of four hundred adults, most weeks some personal tragedy among us of one kind or another could swamp the service.
For Pastors, Less Is Best
To lay my cards on the table, I’m not going to spend an hour before church every Sunday checking online to see what happened around the world while I slept. My time before church on Sunday mornings is best set aside for prayer, study, practicing my sermon, and meeting with a few people involved in the service.