Being a pastor can be hard. Not only are we trying to keep up with the lives of our local church members, but we also want to share God’s Word, reach our communities, as well as live faithfully.
Meanwhile, pastors and church members alike are barraged with messages from our culture that seek to sell them on lesser “gods,” like sex and prestige. If we fail to adequately address controversial topics in the culture, we will not be able to faithfully represent God’s Word in our cultural conversations that are difficult.
If we fail to address topics like sexuality, our people may falsely assume the Bible has nothing to say on these topics, God doesn’t care what we do in these areas, or we shouldn’t talk about these topics in the church. Yet the Bible is not silent on difficult cultural topics. So how can pastors address difficult cultural topics with care and confidence?
Do it. Oddly enough, the easiest, yet most difficult step in addressing difficult cultural topics is just doing it. If we are going to help shepherd our people through the dark valleys of this world, we first must be willing to go through them ourselves. Be willing to take up difficult topics. Be willing to preach through texts that address difficult cultural issues, not around them.
Ground the discussion in God’s Word. We don’t have to formulate the greatest opinions or ideas about how to navigate today’s constantly evolving cultural topics. Today’s hottest trends and issues are just retreads of the same old broken world trying to fix itself apart from God. If you’re going to present a side, present it clearly and plainly from the Bible. Don’t just find a proof-text, rather ground your message in the entire Gospel narrative and show how the Bible speaks to a particular issue. If people are going to argue, make them argue with the Bible, not you.
Make the ground level at the foot of the cross. While we are certainly called to speak the truth, we are also called to do it in love. We are not going to represent God accurately if we come from a posture of accusation or offensiveness. Remember, you’re a sinner too. Apart from the grace of God, you too would be blinded from the truth and celebrating your idolatry.
As we address difficult topics, we must remember and readily admit that we are all broken sinners. We aren’t telling people to rise to our level; we are admitting that we are all broken and in need of a Savior. The ground is very level at the foot of the cross. We are trying to trust and follow Jesus together. We invite others to follow with us.
Do the hard work of pastoring in the day, time and culture in which God has placed you. Preach the Bible, and when it speaks to a difficult cultural issue, be faithful in speaking about it as well.