Drollinger: Why Believers Should Be Involved in Politics


Some churches teach that believers should abstain from a career in politics and only involve themselves in evangelism in the political arena. But that’s not what the Bible teaches. “Evangelism only” is too narrow an understanding of the mission of Jesus.

The Scriptures say believers are to impact the world around them with God’s precepts and for his glory. The ways in which this Christian influence happens vary, respective to the call God has placed on each believer. We are called to have an impact for God in our chosen field.

If every believer adhered to this somewhat popular “evangelism only” evangelical teaching, there would be no believers in office! There would be no biblically based influences whatsoever in a representative form of government!

Scripture supports believers being involved in the political arena just as they are in any other vocation. The way to change the direction of a nation is for believers to be involved. Someone’s morality will be the basis of law and culture — why not God’s?

This week’s Bible study, “Why Believers Should Be Involved in Politics,” provides the biblical arguments for believers to participate in the state in ways beyond evangelism.

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The fact that believers should affect the world in which they live (versus isolate themselves from it) is evident from the Sermon on the Mount. Note Matthew 5:13-16:

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

When Jesus lights a lamp — when he brings an individual to true saving faith in himself (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9) — what results is a person who “gives light to all who are in the house.” This passage teaches that it is normative for believers to affect the world in the here and now.

Personal spiritual maturation will be indicated by an individual’s cultural par­ticipation, which then testifies of God to an onlooking world. This progression reveals the biblical formula for having an effective testimony — glorifying God — in a fallen world. Cultural participation is a necessary ingredient to being an effective wit­ness (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:21-23). You can’t be an “evangelism only” advocate in the political arena without cultural participation! It is a complete misnomer.

In the Great Commission passage of Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus commands his followers to teach others more than just the truths of the gospel (as primary and important as that is to the mission of Jesus). He teaches believers to go way beyond evangelism and make dis­ciples. How is the believer to do that? By “teaching [others] to observe all that I commanded you.”

That the believer should only evangelize political leaders (and not get involved in politics) represents ultra-myopic, unbiblical thinking. It follows that the evangelist in the Capitol would need to counsel his convert to immediately leave office! If an evangelist won every elected leader to Christ, the government would have to turn off the lights (assuming the janitor didn’t get saved!).

So what does Jesus teach? What is the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) regarding civil government? Among other things, it includes the fol­lowing: He himself created it (Genesis 1:26, Colossians 1:16). He ordained it (Romans 13:1). He sustains it (Colos­sians 1:17). And it is intended to mor­alize a fallen world (Romans 13:4) and provide justice (1 Peter 2:13-14). Jesus, compelled by a heart of compas­sion for the lost (Matthew 9:36), pur­poses to manifest grace to all through this ordained insti­tution (cf. Matthew 5:45). How great is his love!

The aforementioned supporting passages clearly reveal that Jesus has a purpose for believers within the institution of government that is in addition to evangelism.

The “do evangelism, not politics” understanding is a false dichotomy and an incorrect understanding of church and state. Shouldn’t the church raise up young men and women — disciple them — to run for office with the same passion and enthu­siasm that it places on raising up godly pastors, wives, husbands, children and businessmen? Absolutely yes! “Evange­lism only” is too narrow an understand­ing of the mission of Jesus.

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Click here to read the full study.

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Ralph Drollinger, president and founder of Capitol Ministries, leads three Bible studies with political leaders every week. One on the Hill for U.S. senators and one for representatives, plus a weekly remote Bible study for state governors, former governors, and former White House Cabinet members and senior staff. Learn more at

Drollinger played basketball at UCLA under coach John Wooden and was the first player in NCAA history to go to the Final Four four times. Drollinger was taken in the NBA draft three times but chose to forgo the NBA to play with Athletes in Action, an evangelistic basketball team that toured the world and preached the gospel at halftime. Drollinger signed with the Dallas Mavericks in 1980 as a free agent, becoming the first Maverick in the history of the franchise.