Shepherding a Culture of Life

On April 29th, the Right to Life Michigan affiliate in Plymouth hosted a successful and informative event for prolife advocates, pastors, and church staff; it was called “Shepherding a Culture of Life,” and the event featured several speakers and a pastor panel. The primary presenter was Pastor Christopher Thoma of Our Savior Lutheran Church.

Pastor Thoma is a great friend and a powerful voice in prolife movement in Michigan, and around the nation. You can listen to a quick summary of Pastor Thoma’s talk on this Lifebeat podcast episode. There was so much edifying content to take away from his presentation that I wanted to share a few of the highlights with you in this post.

Perhaps the most powerful admonition of the morning was his comment: “Pastors must get into the game; we must, like the Good Samaritan, help the dying person. We do not have the right to walk away and ignore, we must be in the game of Life.” This seems to be an obvious statement—one that anyone in the life movement has heard many times—but on this day Pastor Thoma’ simple and yet profound comment resonated throughout the room.

He continued, “…Hate is not the opposite of love, it is apathy. Indifference is the opposite of love, and the one thing the church is called to is to love.” To act in love is to seek justice. To speak up for all human persons—at every moment of life, regardless of their age, disability, or situation—is the essence of love, and there is no optional “on/off” button if you are a Christian. You are not sometimes—or occasionally—a defender of human persons and human life; we are always, 100% of the time bearers of the Gospel—the good news—into the world, in every circumstance. We have no right to not speak, and in fact, not to speak is to speak, and not to act is to act.

Pastor Thoma continued, “The Church and especially pastors must get into the game, because the Good News belongs in all places, in every place, and into all the world… we are called to change the culture and to persuade the culture in heart, mind, and soul. If we ignore this or reject this, we are complicit.” As pastor Thoma continued it was evident that he was not speaking in terms of theory, or in terms of a strategy that is unobtainable, but rather as a practitioner himself in his own church.

Each of the pastors who spoke this day emphasized again and again that the entirety of biblical and Christian witness from Genesis through Revelation is the message that life is sacred, holy, and must be protected, and that God is the God of love. Our God loves women. He loves men, and children, and He loves the unborn in a very special way.

Pastors need to understand that in our churches are large numbers of men, women, fathers, and mothers who are personally wounded because of an abortion decision, and that we should use this opportunity to bring closure, and healing through the forgiveness that is in Jesus Christ.
“We must bring, and we must be the Gospel in every situation and place that we find ourselves in life”: these were Pastor Thoma’s closing words and the room was silent, and yet every head nodded in affirmation, because everyone deep inside knows that this is true.

It has often been said that we are called to be faithful and not successful, but the overall feeling after this event is that when pastors preach, teach, and create a culture that affirms life in their churches, that they are indeed successful, because they are 100% faithful: faithful without compromise or exception in holding forth that all human life is to be protected from conception until natural death. Change the culture and win the war. Lose the culture and lose the war.

Thank you to the Plymouth area leaders, to Pastor Chris Thoma and everyone who made this event so incredible.

To learn more about this event and other planned prolife events in the Plymouth area visit Plymouth Right to Life’s website.

Contact me, Mike Cook, Right to Life of Michigan’s Faith Outreach Coordinator, at mcook@rtl.org if I can be of help to you and your church.

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