Thursday, September 13, 2007

My Challenge to Christian Leaders: Preach and Equip [SK]

Later today in Lincoln (NE), I'll be speaking to 135 pastors and Christian leaders on their need to engage the culture on pro-life issues. You can read a brief summary of my intended remarks here.

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.)

5 comments:

  1. I love this post, but you know I am a feelings kind of guy. I do think that Christians are hungry to see a big God that is operating in power. This moral shell game that many churches are playing where they try to hide the harder aspects of the character of God so as to appeal seekers may attract more people in general, but it leaves a great many people looking for the living God feeling as if they followed a feckless deity. Speaking in grace, mercy, adn strength is speaking from the Spirit of God.

    I love the DC Talk talk song Jesus Freak, especially the line I ain't in to hiding the truth.

    God bless,
    Jay

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  2. I sympathize with the hassle of getting into the schools.

    We go to area high schools in the spring and fall to pass out literature on the sidewalks in front of the schools. The students are receptive but it is usually the administration and teachers who try to stop us.

    Thanks for your persistence!

    Philip

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  3. SK,
    A moving post, indeed. I have faced similar issues in our ministry. Mothers, many have been friends of ours, have said to us that they are just not ready to discuss this issue with thier kids, so could we please refrain from showing these graphic images. (in reference to our truth tour images) I too struggle with getting booked, at times, because such a large population of Pastors will not even discuss this issue, much less allow the images to be shown. One of the songs from my childhood church just came to mind....."So that they all may hear. That they may all believe. That they may all repent, and Jesus Christ receive....". People need to hear and see the truth. We are visual learners. Look at how the graphic images of Sept. 11th affected us. We watched as people died. This stirred an outrage in Americans not seen since Pearl Harbor. There is a great deal of truth in that we will all tolerate an injustice that we do not have to see. Thanks for bringing this up, Scott. I have always tried to remember second Timothy...."and the time will come that having itching ears, men will hire teachers to suit thier own liking. "...."They will turn away from sound doctrine ..." ..."do the work of an evangelist and discharge all the duties of your ministry.". Keep going my brother, so that they all may hear! Blessings, Lori

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  4. Great site and post. My comments are in the context of a post-abortive African American male with many years actively engaged in pro-life work from sidewalk prayer/counseling/witnessing to co-facillitating an abortion recovery ministry.

    If the African American community is the "canary in the coal mine" then we are fast approaching becoming a nation with no natural affection. Time is short and we have seen the boxcars leaving the station fully loaded since 1973.

    It is imperative that the Christian church repent on this issue since the scripture warns us,"...if my people...", not, "...if those people..." Many pastors whether black or white have not been the shepards they need to be on this issue. Gambling, pornography,corporate greed, justice issues from racism to homosexuality to global warming,or just how to be a better person (not necessarily a broken/convicted one) get consistent pulpit time.

    But abortion and the sanctity of life are rarely preached because the church has adopted the world view and fear of man concerning the sanctity of life. Not to mention that a significant number of pastors may be post abortive themselves or their daughters or sons have been involved with abortion. Planned Parenthood does not boast about abortion being the most common surgical procedure without reason. It's in the pews and the pulpit.

    When pastors repent concerning their silence and lead their churches into repentance we are on the way to making abortion unthinkable, if not illegal.

    It will take resources like this blog and others: Human Life Alliance's "Did You Know?" publication, Bethlehem Institutes' Sunday School Curriculum "Abortion Is About God: Reframing A Moral Issue.", LEARN a national coalition of African American pro-life organizations and a host of others to be "watchmen", to counter the worldly views of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (that's not a typo!) and other like minded religious organizations.

    It will be a long but good fight because we are wrestling with a number of sins that compell a woman and sometimes a man to premeditate the taking of a human life because of choice. Few sins carry such consequences spiritually, morally, emotionally and physically-I know, unfortunately I've been there.

    Jay Watts said it all. We need to "speak in grace, mercy, and strength..." as we speak from the Spirit of God.

    Rev. Brian Walker

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