The gut reaction may be to say that there is nothing the church can learn from a secular exercise. The kingdom of God is not concerned with worldly kingdoms, and Jesus himself resisted that specific temptation in the desert, and has said render unto Caesar what is his.
But rather than write it off out of hand, let’s dig in and see if there is something of value we can glean.
But consider the following argument, that the values the church instills in people can be observed in their identity and values and how they vote. The voting record is also one of the few times in public life where we get an accurate pulse on what people feel is important and how they self-identify.
Furthermore with all the polling and surveys and high power analysis, we can also get a rich set of demographic data that normally is not available.
Politics has a lot of opinions and theories; Nov 6th was a test of those theories.
The other key thought in my opinion is that for all the fury and bluster leading up to an election about what will happen and should happen, once the votes are counted the debate about what will happen is over, and you can shift to a different analysis of “why did this happen the way it did?” and, in its most professional (not internet comment flame wars) version, the analysis is really clear eyed and open to understanding the actual data.
Everyone agrees on trends that Team Red missed
I prefer to think of the two major parties as team red and team blue, it helps me stay objective about what they are each doing and promoting. So I will refer to them that way in this article.
So while it is still early after the election, the 2016 race has already started in some ways, and the analysis of what happened on November 6th has started to gel.
Minority voters and Latino voters specifically,
One obvious conclusion is that Team Red performed more poorly than they planned with minority voters and specifically with the rapidly growing Latino voter block. There are a number of issues here that played into that, clearly the ongoing path to citizenship debate it a large one. How well did each team reach out to Latino sources and media, Univision, Telemundo etc. is also another large factor.
Another clear conclusion was that Team Blue did much better than Team Red in reaching young voters. There are again some key markers here, use of social media and advertising channels (such as Pandora ads, Twitter campaigns, etc) being a primary one. Another being alignment on some generationally specific social issues, I think specifically of Gay Marriage and Women’s contraception options as being issues where there is a generational gap between younger and older voters.
These trends in demographics will continue and accelerate, so to be viable in the future you need to address the challenges they present
The other overarching theme I have seen in the post-election analysis is that these groups that Team Red performed poorly in will only have increasing influence over the coming decade.
Minority voters will make up an ever growing percentage of the population, and younger voters once they have voted for a specific team twice are unlikely to change their allegiance going forward.
Politics has a test every 4 years, you have a test every Sunday.
So if we assume we get a good test every 4 years, being in the church environment we get a referendum on our approach every 7 days. People vote with their feet and their wallets. If we look at the key findings from the election and how they are being projected to impact Team Red, do you see the same trends in your church? Can you make some of the same adjustments to account for the trends? Are you taking any of those actions as a church? Are you personally taking any actions?
Think about them one by one:
Are young people choosing not to come to your church at 70% rates? Do they fail to identify with your values and moral stances? Do you have a service that engages them? Are you engaging them in social media and culture outside the walls of your normal communications?
Are minorities avoiding your church at 60, 70, 90% rates? Do Latino members of your community feel you reach out to them on their terms?
If you keep up the current trends, will the world move away from you and leave you? Are the last generation in your current building?
So ask yourself, How did you do last week? And how do you think you will do this week?
Don’t be confused by the Christmas sized crowds, look into the crowd. Are you seeing the future in your congregation? If not, why not?
So maybe looking at the analysis of the most recent election, can help you.