Friday, May 23, 2008

Re: What's Wrong? [SK]

Jay,
I would suggest only one small change to your excellent post: The title should be "What's Wrong with the Church?"

I rarely--very rarely, in fact--say critical things about the church. My preference is to equip Christian leaders rather than criticize them. Yet you've raised a good point: If you talk to any pro-life group reaching out to students, you'll soon learn it's now axiomatic that with rare exception, campus fellowship groups want nothing to do with the pro-life movement. Generally speaking, they are too afraid they might turn people off if they get involved saving innocent human lives.

Well, at Cal Poly, the response of Christians to the abortion controversy did in fact turn-off at least one non-Christian, but not for reasons campus fellowship groups might expect. One of the students responsible for organizing the debate expressed her dismay that Campus Crusade would not attend the event or get behind promoting it with its members.

She asked me directly why I thought that was so. She thought for sure the Christians would show up and she was puzzled that they didn't. Their refusal to get involved turned her off.

I didn't know what to tell her. Perhaps CC had good reasons for not attending and I hold out hope it did, though it's hard for me to imagine what those reasons might be.

As Joe Carter suggested a few weeks back, one reason for the church's non-involvement is that Evangelical leaders by and large aren't all that troubled by abortion. It's simply not a priority for them:

If evangelicals--and Christians in general--truly cared about this issue, abortion on demand would not be the law of the land....Imagine if every pastor in America had the courage to stand in the pulpit and deliver the Gospel-centric message that God abhors this slaughtering of the innocent and that for the church to tolerate this sin is a fecal-colored stain on the garment of Christ's bride.

But it will never happen because the evangelical church isn't committed as the church to rectifying this grave injustice. We never have been.
As I've said before, Christian leaders have it all wrong. My own experience suggests that far from turning people off, a persuasive pro-life case, graciously communicated, suggests to non-believers that maybe, just maybe, the Christian worldview has something relevant to say to the key issues of our day. But when we fail to even put in an appearance at key debates, the message to non-Christians is that we simply don't care about the big stuff.

And then we bemoan the fact that few people take us seriously.

Wasn't it Woody Allen who once said that "eighty percent of success is just showing up?"

4 comments:

  1. Scott,

    Is it possible that campus Christian leaders do not want to be involved with pro-life issues because of the bad image pro-lifers have?

    I'm trying to figure out what the root cause of this non-engagement is and I've narrowed it down to:

    1. The leaders themselves are nominally pro-choice
    2. They, or someone they know in their life/group, is post-abortive and they want to spare their feelings.
    2a. They are uncomfortable with graphic depictions or descriptions of abortion that accompany pro-life events.
    3. They want to achieve the goal of spreading the gospel to the largest number and therfore will not engage issues that do not directly achieve that goal but could possibly drive numbers down.
    4. They have had a bad experience or bought into stereotypes of pro-lifers being mean, callous, over-the-top, violent, judgmental zealots.

    Got any good ideas to overcome this "Berlin wall" between Christian groups and pro-life groups?

    Keep up the good work Scott!

    ReplyDelete
  2. When we started our Survivors group at the U of MN Duluth, we talked to the leaders of several Christian groups asking them for their support. We also asked them to spread the word to their members or even allow us to do it by coming to talk for 5 minutes @ one of their meetings.

    Inter Varsity turned us down flat. They later said that they get these new Christians at their meetings and did not want to risk turniing them off! I am very thankful that Jesus was more interested in sharing God's truth than worried about "turning people off"!

    Kai Alpha aslo turned us down, but said they supported our pro-life views for sure.

    The Navigators let us come to their meeting to share and were very helpful. Yay.

    And lastly, Newman Center (Catholic) was enormously helpful. THey openly advertised and promoted our events. As a result, our group is about 90% Newman kids.

    Just wanted to share my own experience.

    THanks,
    Kris

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm so glad to see this discussion happening, as I fear that we may never end abortion without the church getting much more involved than she is now. (of course I know there are some actively pro-life churches, although I would say those are definitely the vast minority.)

    I think Trent brought up some major reasons most church leaders don't seem to get involved. We duscussed this overall problem on our podcast recently, "Life Report: Pro-Life Answers for a Pro-Choice World" and this is what we came up with:

    1. Igorance
    • That abortion is legal through all 9 months of pregnancy for practically any reason.
    • That up to 70% of women having abortions profess to be Protestant or Catholic.
    • That the post-abortive women in their church are not helped by them ignoring the subject.
    • That the unborn is a valuable human being. (Sounds harsh, but if the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was legal for non-Christians to kill Christian children under the age of five, would the Church be content to simply pray for our government?)

    2. Feeling Overwhelmed with Other Ministries
    Of course this is no excuse, but probably the category that some particularly pro-life pastors fall under.

    3. Fear
    As Trent alluded to, that they may either hurt the post-abortive women in their church, or maybe lose some of their church members (and financial support) if they offend the congregation.

    4. Apathy
    Then there are those that just don't care that much. I hope this is the minority, but I truly think some pastors secretly just want this whole thing to just go away. ("Sing a Little Louder" is a story that masterfully illustrates this problem.)

    I'm currently working on a project that will combat church uninvolvement in a way that hasn't been done before. Until then, I would suggest attempting to get YOUR church to do at least 2 of the following:
    o Pro-life Bible study: Thorough study of scriptures relating to: shedding of innocent blood, loving one’s neighbor, being salt and light in society.
    o Pro-life preaching and teaching: Institute regularly scheduled education and motivation instruction based on the scriptural emphasis on this topic.
    o Pro-life prayer and strategy sessions: Encourage ongoing prayers of repentance and intercession appropriate to the issue.
    o Pro-life evangelism: Offer pro-life apologetics training to equip congregation to confront culture of death in their spheres of influence. Invite a speaker like Scott, or use his materials to teach the subject yourself. Making Abortion Unthinkable is a great resource for you. Use it!
    o Pro-life political involvement: Educate church as to their privilege and responsibility to vote for righteousness, particularly in areas clearly delineated in scripture and church history.
    o Post-abortion counseling: Familiarize congregation with various options for private and confidential post abortion counseling services.
    o Purity training for teens: Provide cutting edge quality purity training for adults, parents and teens to lead church “not into temptation” and strengthen commitment to all aspects of purity.
    o Develop and resource Pro-Life Committee: Enlist wisest of church to participate in and oversee pro-life education and advocacy within the church.
    o Create seamless pro-life education from children’s church through teen and adult programs: Foster fervent yet balanced prayer and activism on behalf of the pre-born, teens, women and society placed at risk by abortion.

    Public Pro-life Activities:
    o Sidewalk counseling: Legal “free speech” outreach to those entering an abortion clinic by offering caring pro-life encouragement, educational materials, alternatives and prayer.
    o Pregnancy Care Centers support: Direct financial and/or volunteer support. Provide resources such as maternity and baby clothes, formula and food, pre-natal medical attention and aftercare. Ongoing support such a parenting classes, family counseling, etc…
    o Support best pro-life organizations: Join or start local efforts to engage the culture of death.

    ReplyDelete

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