I have had on my mind and heart the debacle that has been visited on Trump evangelicals: The “Chosen One” was “unchosen.”
Donald Trump will be leaving office either by walking away or being escorted out of the White House. He is done. I will not prognosticate on what may happen to him in the future.
My immediate concern is the recovery of the integrity of the evangelical wing of the church. Frankly, it has been shipwrecked on the siren song of Trump, and now that he is exiting the stage, there are two rebuildings that must take place. The church first, then the nation.
What can those of us do who were not swept away by the mystical spell of Trump and his alliance with the evangelical wing of the church? For two elections, more than 90% of white evangelical men supported Trump. In the evangelical movement, that means it was not just men, but pastors, deacons, elders and congregational leadership.
How can we move on with that obvious wreckage?
Every new journey starts somewhere. So let’s begin with the powerful tools God has given us in the church.
First, there is prayer. For some reason, years ago I developed a hunger for revival and spiritual awakening that not just shaped our nation but also England and Wales. Something in that movement touched me deeply. Perhaps it was as a teenager being invited into an “after revival service prayer meeting” where people of all ages were on their knees crying out to God. I still am touched by that meeting.
“What I have learned over the years is that persistent, pervasive prayer is powerful and effective.”
What I have learned over the years is that persistent, pervasive prayer is powerful and effective. There are so many historic accounts of individuals or small groups coming together to pray for revival that preceded an outpouring of God’s Spirit, which not only revived the church, but also profoundly affected the culture. That is God’s way.
We must recover prayer: praying for the kingdom to come in our hearts and world; for God to humble God’s people; for us to cry out to God and seek God’s face; for God to wean us from our idolatry of America; for us to see our sin; for us to turn from our sin and wicked ways; and for God to heal the church.
Now you might say, “2 Chronicles 7:14 says God will heal the land, so our goal should be for God to heal America.” Again, I would say, “No, the land God will heal first is the church, God’s covenant people.” If God does that, the culture will change.
“The culture is never changed by passing morality, whether is it Prohibition or abortion laws.”
The culture is never changed by passing morality, whether it is Prohibition or abortion laws. It does not work that way. In fact, some say the Prohibition days may have been some of our most lawless times in America. That is the failed trail we have been on for the last 40 years.
Second, we must recover a passion for the truth. In order to do that, wise, courageous pastors and preachers must anchor their messages deep in the word of God and prayer. I believe it is an affront to God to wag our Bibles to the church saying we believe they contain the unchanging eternal truth of God, and then close up the Bibles and chase conspiracy theories or tolerate lies from anyone.
“When truth takes a holiday, our faith suffers.”
Third, we must contend for the truth. The time for patient silence is over. Our words need to be kind but firm, grounded in Scripture, respectfully shared. When truth takes a holiday, our faith suffers.
Honestly, for the last five years, truth has suffered.
Pastors can find an opening in the disillusionment many of your people may feel. However, the loving pastor can provide help and hope for those who have found their faith shaken and their confidence in elections or the workings of government at a low ebb.
John Claypool is quoted as saying, “Illusion is the child of disillusion.” We are too proud to acknowledge that we have anchored our lives on illusions, but that is what has happened. So we help folks find their way back to the settled ground of truth, the unshakable foundation of truth, not just for our church but for our lives.
Will this be an easy journey? I doubt it.
The pastor will encounter anger, resistance and denial. Perhaps it would help to consider these as part of a process of grief because a vision has died. And while we might say that is a good thing, they will feel differently. There were many, many times I stood over a casket believing this was the best possible outcome for a church member. I understood how I might be the only one in the room who saw it that way. However, by coming along side, doing the hard work of grief companionship, I helped members to understand such deaths were a gift from God.
Fourth, we need to be patient. That is not my spiritual gift. It never has been, but righting the ship of the church will take some time. Isaac Backus was known to have met with other pastors from the area praying for revival for more than seven years before God began to work in the churches of New England.
Persistence and prayer will move us forward.
Michael Chancellor served 33 years as pastor of four Baptist churches in Texas, seven years as a mental health manager in a maximum-security Texas prison and now is a therapist in private practice in Round Rock, Texas.