Hoping to become agents of change in their state and country, St. Joseph (Mich.) Christian Reformed Church recently began hosting “Salt and Light Sundays.”
“I have a passion for identifying moral issues and bringing folks together to learn more,” said Keith Lubbers, who heads the church’s Salt and Light group. “Let them learn more and make up their own minds. Short of that, we’re all apathetic.”
Lubbers, a retired engineer, has become very involved with politics, even traveling to Lansing, the state capitol, to observe political proceedings.
One Sunday each month, a social action committee brings one or two current issues with moral implications before the congregation. After the service, churchgoers can learn more at an information table. The table includes suggestions for simple actions they can take to address issues, such as sending a postcard to a politician. That evening, the council hosts a special meeting for those who want to wrestle further with the issues.
“If you feel strongly about something, you need to live your passion,” said Lubbers. “If the church is not speaking into these issues, who is going to?”
When people ask for his take on issues, he gives an objective analysis, allowing people to make up their own minds, he said.
The church’s group is affiliated with a national ministry called The Salt and Light Council, which operates out of Solana Beach, Calif. The organization was formed to coordinate churches’ efforts in the political sphere, prompted by California churches’ weak response when Proposition 8, a ballot issue to oppose same sex marriage, was overturned.
The national organization provides suggested current issues and resources to churches each month, but the St. Joseph CRC leaders pick and choose among these, since they aren’t always a perfect fit, said pastor John DeVries. Some topics they have brought before the congregation include abortion, support of the military, and religious freedom in education.
Before starting the Salt and Light ministry, the St. Joseph congregation had spent about two years studying Kuyperian theology and Christian worldview, said DeVries. So this ministry was a natural step, and not as surprising or controversial as it might otherwise have been, he added.
“We’re walking people into something they’re just uncomfortable with,” said DeVries. “It’s easier to pretend those things aren’t there, or pray and hope they’ll go away. But without some thoughtful engagement by Christians, the chances aren’t that high that they will go away.”