The challenge for the local pastor almost always comes down to this: Do I trust God to protect His ministry through me when I preach inconvenient truth?
Those present will also see this three minute video and be challenged to show it at their churches. Please pray they will.
Be advised, I'm about to do what I've never done on this blog, communicate feelings. On one hand, I'm encouraged: Yesterday, I spoke to 1,000 students at two Catholic high schools in Omaha. Today, before speaking to pastors at lunch, I get another 1,200 at a school in Lincoln. Indeed, I thank God I'm able to communicate to thousands of students each year in schools all over the country.
But there's a flip side to all this that's profoundly discouraging. You simply have no idea how much work it takes to get into ANY school, despite my established credentials and despite my appearances on Focus on the Family and other Christian media outlets. The problem isn't me: People simply don't want to raise the abortion issue and spark potential controversy (which, by the way, is minimal when the presentation is done correctly). Steve Weimar, who sets up my speaking agenda, spends hours negotiating with schools to have me speak. And once we get in, we then must fight for the opportunity to use visuals depicting abortion. Too many people in Christian leadership fear man more than they fear God. I once asked a school principal who wanted me to speak without pictures, "Are any of the reasons you are giving me for not showing this film worth the price of children's lives that could have been saved if we'd shown it?" He acknowledged the question was a good one, but gave the standard reply: "Our students just aren't ready for this."
So what are we to conclude, that seeing an abortion is worse than a student actually having one?
At the same time, many Christian leaders fear that abortion presentations will drive people away from the Gospel.
Despite the mistaken notion that we are somehow responsible for saving souls with clever programs designed to sell non-Christians on church attendance (the Bible paints a different picture--it's God's gospel and He draws those who are His), it's just plain wrong that pro-life presentations drive people away. My own speaking experience confirms this.
In 2005, Campus Crusade students and staff at West Virginia University aggressively promoted my talk "The Case for Life." Instead of driving people away, the talk drew 400 students, including many non-Christians. (FYI, Crusade's promotional efforts were brilliant--staff made sure that students could get university credit for attending the talk!) After presenting a rational case for the pro-life view, I concluded by saying something like this:
Tonight, you've heard a rational case for the pro-life view. True, I did not hit you with Bible verses, but make no mistake: I believe that the pro-life position squares nicely with a Christian worldview. And I think that worldview is true and reasonable to believe. I'm not going to give an altar call tonight. Quite frankly, I've not given you enough information to fully consider the claims of Christ, though CC staff members are standing by to help you with any questions you might have. My goal tonight is really quite modest. I want you to examine just one question: If the Christian worldview on abortion is true and reasonable to believe, shouldn't we at least explore what that worldview has to say on other important matters like the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? His claim to be the only way to salvation? Biblical faith is not belief in spite of evidence; it's belief based on evidence, as the writer of Hebrews explains. Hopefully, I've shown tonight that Christian belief is relevant to at least one key issue we face today. If you'll take a closer look, I think you'll see that it's relevant to a whole lot more.The response was overwhelming. No hissing. No complaints. Just lots of applause and compliments. And tons of great questions after the meeting officially ended.
None of this surprises me. In fact, Christian leaders have it all wrong. Pro-life presentations, properly presented, don't drive people from considering the gospel. Rather, they suggest to non-believers that maybe, just maybe, the Christian worldview has something relevant to say to the major questions of our day. And any worldview that can make sense of those questions is worth a second look.
There. I vented. I took out my frustrations on you, gentle reader. Now, I'm going to challenge the pastors...graciously. May God be glorified in all.
(For more on what I say to pastors about pro-life issues, go here.)