Mississippi District United Pentecostal Church Superintendent David Tipton is passionate about Christians being involved in politics. So much so he’s written a great book called Faith, Freedom & Politics. It was an honor having him on the Apostolic Voice podcast (I’ve linked that episode below). You’ll enjoy that conversation. The topic is important enough to merit being condensed here. So, I’ve abbreviated the highlights of my conversation with Rev. Tipton for those who prefer to read.
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Mississippi District United Pentecostal Church Superintendent David Tipton is passionate about Christians being involved in politics. So much so he’s written a great book called Faith, Freedom & Politics. You can read an in-depth synopsis of that book at www.ryanafrench.com. Ryan and Superintendent Tipton discuss why politics matter and practical ways every Christian can make a difference through involvement in local and national politics. Superintendent Tipton gives the incredible testimony of the Mississippi United Pentecostal Church’s participation in the landmark overturning of the abortion law Roe vs. Wade. They also address common concerns regarding becoming too political in the church. Superintendent Tipton makes some exciting announcements for a new United Pentecostal Church International initiative called the National Apostolic Christian Leadership Conference (NACLC).
- The book Faith, Freedom & Politics by David Tipton
- Faith, Freedom & Politics book Synopsis by Ryan French
- www.naclc.org (National Apostolic Christian Leadership Conference)
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In Christ, At Colosse
To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:2).
Tipton makes the case that, like the church at Colosse, saints are to be in Christ and involved in their region. That involvement should naturally include politics. My father used to say, “don’t complain about politics if you don’t vote.” That impacted me as a young man because our human nature does tend to complain about things we won’t work to fix. Biblically we have good precedents for involvement: Daniel was involved with the King at the highest level of political advisory, Joseph was elevated to the second most powerful political position in Egypt, and Nehemiah governed Judah while maintaining a positive influence with the king of Babylon who held them captive. Paul instructed us to “pray for those in government positions (1 Timothy 2:1-2).” And Jesus urged us to be good citizens and pay our taxes (Matthew 22:17-21). But of course, we have a higher citizenship in Heaven (Philippians 3:20), but that doesn’t excuse us from doing the right thing here on earth.
My Political Affiliation
I happily echo what Superintendent Tipton said in our interview, “my loyalties lie with Jesus Christ.” There will likely never be a politician who perfectly represents my biblical worldview. So, I strive to find the closest agreement possible. Like it or not, Christians are usually forced to vote for the lesser of two evils. Red or blue, elephant or donkey, I vote for candidates who are most likely to govern closest to my values. Therefore, my vote is not a full stamp of approval for their every action before or after they are elected. However, Tipton makes a valid point that shouldn’t be overlooked, “building a personal relationship with elected officials will help them remain more sympathetic to your values.”
All Politics Is Local
I’ve noticed that Christians will often become very animated about national politics. Yet, those same people are indifferent to their local elections and legislation. I’ll raise my hand and admit I’ve been that person. It’s easy to get swept into the electrifying current of national politics while simultaneously being lulled to sleep by local policymaking. However, Tipton reminded me that the average person is far more impacted by local policies than by federal ones. For example, COVID revealed much about how important it is for churches to have a good relationship with their mayor, sheriff, and county officials. As Tipton pointed out, “a local sheriff has tremendous power to help or harm.” It stands to reason that we should be active on the local level. If you’re like me, you might wonder, how can I cultivate relationships with local officials? Fortunately, Rev. Tipton gives some great advice on how to do just that.
Be A Friend
I’m abbreviating Rev. Tipton’s advice considerably, but this will give you a good overview of developing relationships with your local officials. First, if possible, begin relationships while officials are running for office. Tipton says, “If you only initiate contact after they are elected, you seem like an opportunist.” Look for local luncheons, speeches, prayer breakfasts, book signings, or gatherings where you can introduce yourself to candidates while they are seeking office. Be real. Be genuine. Be kind. Once a local politician has won office, make contact in person by visiting their office. Congratulate them and express your desire to help them wherever possible. Even if you don’t see eye to eye on most issues, try to find some common ground. Treat them like human beings in a frenzied media culture that dehumanizes politicians, and they will be grateful. Politicians are humans like you and me. As Tipton says, “they like to win and hate to lose. They don’t want to be embarrassed or mistreated.”
Once you’ve made that initial contact in person. Write them a letter expressing some kindness and a measure of support. Let them know you are praying for them and that you represent others who are doing the same. If you notice or hear about a situation a local official is dealing with, send them a note expressing concern. Remind them you are available if they need a safe person to talk with. In short, be a friend. It’s vital that you establish this relationship before asking for help, demanding change, or complaining about this or that. You are more likely to get results from someone who sees you as a friend than if they view you as an annoying stranger. Finally, be a person of integrity in that relationship. Please don’t use them for selfies or talk about your conversations with them to others. They need to know you are trustworthy and reliable. They need to know that they are talking only to you when they speak to you.
Issues of Great Concern
You may not care about or enjoy the American political process. And that’s ok. I get it. But you probably care deeply about the issues facing your family, church, and community. Those issues can only be resolved through the mechanism of politics. For example, the Mississippi District UPCI, under the direction of Rev. Tipton, played a crucial role in the legislation that overturned Roe vs. Wade and changed abortion laws for the better (you’ll want to listen to that testimony here). Religious liberty and freedom of speech are genuinely being threatened. Will we complain about it, or will we do something about it? I can tell you from personal experience that family law needs an overhaul, and public education needs total renovation. Mental health is tragically overlooked and underfunded in our communities. Crime and lawlessness are back on the rise in many sectors. Whether we realize it or not, business ethics and economics impact us all.
Christians care about these things. We detest racism. We’re not just against abortion. We’re for adoption (another area that needs deep reform). These issues and countless more should compel us to get involved as best we can, especially locally. Superintendent Tipton puts it this way:
If the church would be the redeeming force in the world, it must come to the realization that God’s love is for all men. A direct result of this is a deep-seated commitment to action in helping people, even if that means helping politically. It is vital for the church to move into the political process.
National Apostolic Christian Leadership Conference (NACLC)
Rev. Tipton is a founding leader and staunch advocate of the National Apostolic Christian Leadership Conference (NACLC). Their website is www.naclc.org. Individuals, churches, and districts can become members for $10.00 per month or $100.00 annually. Membership gives access to regular correspondence, initiatives, and materials relevant to Christian legislation and issues. Additionally, churches, districts, and ministries receive free membership in the Alliance Defending Freedom. The ADF team of nearly 100 attorneys can review documents, advise on related legal matters, and represent you if the case warrants. They focus primarily on protecting religious liberties from encroachment. The stated goal of NACLC is as follows, “to build a unified force of Apostolic Pentecostal organizations and believers that will influence local, state, and national policy.”