The Vote Comes Early: An Essential Lesson For Church Leaders From The 2020 U.S. Election

Churches and pastors that are putting all or most of their ministry energy into the weekend service are misunderstanding how people make faith decisions now.


This is not a political post.

I’m staying out of that mess.

But I will be using one of the most overlooked aspects of the current state of American politics to make a parallel to the church world.

Because there’s a lesson in it that we MUST learn.

The Politicians’ Big Mistake

This year, both candidates in the U.S. presidential race have made a big mistake. (Yes, I can hear you laughing already.)

To one degree or another both candidates have been campaigning as if the vote doesn’t happen until November 3.

But that’s not true. It’s happening now.

I already cast my vote. It’s done. In the mail.

So have millions of other voters.

Certainly the candidates know this, but in many ways they’re campaigning as if they didn’t.

Instead, they’re doing what presidential candidates have always done, waiting until late October to make a last-minute push for votes.

But this year – and probably for all future campaigns – they should have started making that push at least a month ago.

Last-Minute Is Too Late

Since both candidates have made the same mistake, it probably won’t have much of an effect on the outcome. But if one of them had caught on, it might have made a big difference.

More than ever, what we do and who we are outside of the weekend church service is affecting the decisions people make about faith. Click To Tweet

While the last-minute campaigning matters (and if the final result is close, it may affect the outcome) everything they’re saying and doing now means nothing for millions of voters.

Including me. Even if one of them convinced me to change my vote, I couldn’t.

And the number of persuadable voters keeps dropping. By the time November 3 is here, they’ll be talking to a very small minority of us.

They’re too late.

They’re Not Waiting For Sunday Morning, Either

So what does this have to do with the church?

In the same way that politicians work with election day in mind, pastors work with their weekend worship service in mind.

We want it to be the best it can be. And we should.

But.

If we wait until the weekend service to put our best foot forward, we’ve already lost the majority of people. Click To Tweet

If we wait until the weekend service to put our best foot forward, we’ve already lost the majority of people.

Just like voters this year are not waiting for November 3 to make their choice, your unchurched neighbors aren’t waiting for Sunday morning to decide about your church – if they’re thinking about it at all.

The bulk of their decisions about God, the church, Christians and faith have been made long before then.

They’re casting their “vote” much earlier than we think.

The Early Results Of Our Weekday Testimony

More than ever, what we do and who we are before the weekend church service is affecting the decisions people make about faith.

Some of them are intentional, like a church’s live-stream, website and Facebook page.

But potential church-goers are paying less attention to those than to the following:

  • How church members behave during the Sunday lunch rush
  • What the pastor posts on social media
  • How present or absent we are at neighborhood events
  • How we act and speak about people who believe differently than we do

People in our communities are voting based on our weekday behavior long before they ever set foot in our church buildings. And, increasingly, what they’re seeing is causing them to vote “no”.

Churches and pastors that are putting all or most of their ministry energy into the weekend service are misunderstanding how people make faith decisions now.

Churches and pastors that are putting all or most of their ministry energy into the weekend service are misunderstanding how people make faith decisions now. Click To Tweet

People are voting earlier than ever. And this is not just true for unchurched people. Your church members are pre-voting, too.

  • They’re voting from their cell phones
  • They’re voting when they read your Facebook posts
  • They’re voting when they hear about another church scandal
  • They’re voting when they see us say one thing but do another

And much of the time, just like they won’t be showing up on November 3, they won’t be showing up at our church, either.

Changing Our Weekday Testimony

I don’t want this to be true.

But we need to see this reality with our eyes wide open. Then we need to change the way we live the truth of the gospel in the middle of the week.

We don’t have a four-year election cycle to get this right.

Every minute matters.

Every conversation has to count.

Every social media post is a testimony.

Every interaction with a restaurant server is a test.

We have to do better.

And we have to start now.


(Photo by Tiffany Tertipes | Unsplash)

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