The courts can make abortion illegal, but only God through His church can make abortionunthinkable.
Abortion is not only a problem in communities-- out there, it’s a problem in the church. We partnered with Lifeway Research to do a national survey and found that nearly 4 in 10 women who have had abortions were regularly attending church at least once a month at the time of their first abortion. Further, research from the Guttmacher Institute reveals that 54% of women who have abortions identify as Christian. How do we address these percentages? Suburban, mega, urban, and rural churches and parishes are all essential and must be equipped to show compassion, hope, and help to the women and men represented by these stats. And this is exactly what Making Life Disciples does.
Of the 400,000 churches in America, upwards of 10 percent average more than 1,000 members—that is 3-5 million people combined. Additionally, these mega-churches have a disproportionate number of seekers—those with a casual connection to Christianity that are seeking connection to God but with anonymity.
When the church does its part to serve the “4 out of 10,” then pregnancy centers are freed up to serve as domestic missionaries—that is, to serve the other 6 out of 10 women who do not regularly attend church and have abortions.
But the challenge in far too many communities, especially urban communities, is that:
1) urban areas are home to many abortion clinics,
2) urban areas see a disproportionately high number of abortions,
3) urban areas generally contain very few life-affirming pregnancy centers. Churches, however, are.
Additionally, there are rural and suburban areas where pregnancy centers must close or consolidate for financial reasons. As disappointing as this is, it often becomes a door of opportunity for centers to facilitate and empower churches to step up and prepare to offer compassion, hope, help, and discipleship to women and men facing unplanned pregnancies.
MLD works best as, first, a way to equip a select group of first-responders to offer compassion, hope, and help to women and men facing unplanned pregnancies and, second, as a way to raise the life-affirming IQ of the whole church—including senior-highers—related to abortion.
Q: If a woman in your congregation faced an unplanned pregnancy, to whom could she turn for support?
The short answer—the one we pray and work toward—is “many gracious, equipped women and men in her congregation prepared to offer compassion, hope, and help.” This equipping takes an investment of time. The goal, however, is not to promote a program to implement, but to prepare lives (disciplers) to imitate. This woman will need love, grace, and discipleship. The man who got her pregnant will need this help, too. At Care Net, we envision a church culture where women and men faced with pregnancy decisions are transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ and empowered to choose life for their unborn children and abundant life for their families.
Q: Why do churches and parishes need to offer compassion, hope, help, and discipleship to men and women considering abortion? Aren’t pregnancy centers already doing that?
While pregnancy centers are vital mission partners, abortion is not only a problem in our community, but it’s a problem in the church. Again, nearly 4 in 10 women who have had abortions were regularly attending church at the time of their first abortion. When the church does its part to serve the “4 out of 10,” then pregnancy centers are freed up to serve as domestic missionaries—that is, to serve the other 6 out of 10 women who do not regularly attend church and have abortions.
As mentioned above, another issue is that many pregnancy centers are not physically located in urban areas where a disproportionate number of abortions occur. Churches, however, are. Additionally, there are rural areas where pregnancy centers must close or consolidate for financial reasons. As disappointing as this is, it often becomes a door of opportunity for centers to facilitate and empower churches to step up and prepare to offer compassion, hope, help, and discipleship to women and men facing unplanned pregnancies.
God calls His bride, the Church, to be on the front lines giving grace, love, and discipleship. Good para-church organizations, like pregnancy centers, then support local churches in what they are called to do. When it comes to the issue of unplanned pregnancy and abortion, however, we often have it flipped: pregnancy centers on the front lines with a few good churches supporting them. Together we can change this narrative and share a new dream: Thousands of local churches equipped and taking the lead as places where all facing pregnancy decisions are transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ and empowered to choose life for their unborn children and abundant life for their families. May God make it so!
Q: What if a church does not have a relationship with a pregnancy center, or there is no center in their town?
Making Life Disciples is for the church. It does not require partnership with a pregnancy center to implement, although it is recommended where possible.
MLD is an excellent way to equip a select group of first-responders to offer compassion, hope, and help to women and men facing unplanned pregnancies.
Often, those that are most interested in MLD are those that are looking for a positive, non-political way to be pro-life that centers on grace and the gospel. We have also found that many who have had post-abortive experiences are drawn to this work.
Although this varies, usually it is a lay person with a passion for the life issue in consultation with their pastor or appropriate pastoral staff (e.g. a pastor over small groups and discipleship, etc.). We created this document to help individuals with this.
Q: Do you recommend that a pregnancy center staff member or volunteer become the trainer for their home church?
Care Net does not recommend this scenario.
The goal is to get the church to own the vision of Making Life Disciples. It is best when centers facilitate the conversation, empower, and support a leader inside the church.
Again, the key thing is for pregnancy centers to initiate and support the implementation of MLD in a way that allows the church to own the vision.
Q: How long does it take to go through Making Life Disciples?
Making Life Disciples (MLD) is designed to be completed in eight, 2-3 hour sessions. We also have a chart that gives guidance on how to run MLD as it is designed (2-3 hours sessions), as well as with 1.5-hour and 1-hour time formats.
Q: Who should be the contact for the church’s Making Life Disciples’ leader at the local pregnancy center?
This will vary based on the size of the center. From the church’s perspective, however, the most important thing is that the pregnancy center contact be someone who is reliable, accessible, and understands the vision of Making Life Disciples.
Q: Does Care Net support Making life Disciples leaders in any special way?
Yes, we have ongoing technical support. In fact, Dr. Greg Austen, Care Net’s Executive Director of Church Outreach & Engagement, is a seasoned pastor and is accessible and dedicated to serving all those who are implementing Making Life Disciples. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Why doesn’t MLD have more discipleship content in it for men and women facing an unplanned pregnancy?
Most churches have established systems or a process of discipleship in place (i.e. resources from theNavigators, something like Saddleback’s baseball diamond, Celebrate Recovery, Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, parenting or marriage courses, etc.) but they don’t have an on-ramp to that discipleship for someone in an unplanned pregnancy. MLD gives them that on-ramp.
Q: What is the difference between Embrace Grace and Making Life Disciples?
- Making Life Disciples is an equipping resource to prepare believers for outreach to women and men facing an unplanned pregnancy. Making Life Disciples, then, prepares a congregation to love and disciple girls through a program like Embrace Grace.
- Embrace Grace is for girls who are pregnant. Making Life Disciples is for those that will offer compassion, hope, and help to those girls.
- Embrace Grace is a great off-ramp from Making Life Disciples.
- Making Life Disciples is the gateway to a program like Embrace Grace.