If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you heard about the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade; the 1973 decision in which the Supreme Court determined that the US Constitution itself provides liberty for abortion. This hit the news because of a leak from the Supreme Court (which itself, from what I understand, is highly unusual), indicating that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade. Should this happen, the legality of abortion would be determined at the state level, rather than federal. The discourse around this has been unsurprisingly severe and heated. In the midst of it all, you may have heard a commonly repeated argument against pro-lifers. It goes something like this; “You pro-life people only care about the unborn, you don’t care about what happens to mothers and children once they are born.” I’ve heard this accusation a lot. I’ve even heard it from those in the church. Without assigning motive for the accusation, I want to address it briefly. I think this accusation is at worst a flat-out lie, most often a convenient distraction from the actual issue at hand (what some would call a red herring), and at best can be a gentle reminder for us to care for all who are in need (what James 1:27 would call true religion). First, this accusation is false. Barna studies have shown that practicing Christians adopt children at twice the rate of the average US household. And Christians are responsible for almost all pregnancy resource centers, including Advice and Aid, with which we partner to care for babies, mothers, and fathers. The data doesn’t support the claim that Christians only care about the unborn. Second, this accusation can be a distraction. It’s an accusation that, I believe, is often made to distract from the actual issue of the killing of unborn children. Some don’t want to deal with the horror of that on its face. So the conversation, and the blame, is shifted. While not totally unrelated, the question of whether or not we should be legally allowed to kill the innocent unborn is a different question than how we care for those making difficult decisions, in hard circumstances. Both conversations should be had. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have the necessary and hard conversation as to whether killing children should be legal. Third, at best this can be a reminder for us to continue to care for babies and mothers and fathers. It can be a push to promote laws that actually benefit single mothers and struggling families. It can be a call for us to engage with foster care and adoption, if we are called and equipped to do so. It can be a call for us to partner with and pray for ministries like Advice and Aid. And it ought to be a call for us to continue to uphold a biblical sexual ethic, a biblical understanding of the sanctity of marriage, and a biblical call for healthy marriages and families, all of which bring greater health to children and mothers. We can and should be about all those things, not just one or the other. And I think that by and large, while not perfect, this is what the church of Jesus Christ has done.
Thanks to all of you who were able to make it out for Sunday’s town hall on church planting. I am thankful that we are a church that can voice our opinions, encouragements, concerns, and questions freely. We will need that dialogue to continue as we take next steps in evangelism, disciple-making, and church planting. One of the needs and emphases that clearly arose from the gathering was that of evangelism and disciple-making. I think there was a general realization that if we are going to plant a church, then we are going to need to be a church that evangelizes and makes disciples. There seemed to be general consensus around this. There are questions as to how we become that kind of church, if we are not already. How do we make that necessary change? What levers do we pull? How do we assess and evaluate current ministries and focuses of the church, and see how align with that need? Can we actually do this? I won’t pretend to have all the specific answers – I think there are some things we need to work at and work out together. But I do have some encouragements. First, I’m encouraged that this need has been emphasized. That’s the beginning of doing something about it. Second, I’m encouraged by the fact that this work of evangelism and making disciples is exactly what Scripture demands of the church (see Matthew 28:18-20 and Luke 24:45-49). Third, I have this encouragement – it must start with prayer. As we look toward the future goal of planting a church, and try to determine what steps we need to take, it all comes back to the first step of prayer. We must be praying about this if we are going to do it. Fourth, I would leave you with this last encouragement – what should we fear? I am reminded of two passages in particular. I am reminded of Numbers 13-14 and the spies who were afraid to take the promised land. They saw the work and opposition, that seemed impossible from a human perspective. They cowered in fear, and were judged by God for it. Let us not be driven by fear, failing to do what God has called us to do because we are afraid or uncomfortable (I am preaching to myself, here). I am also reminded of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, wherein Jesus gives a warning not to invest what God has given for the furtherance of the kingdom (under threat of judgment – see verse 30). So I ask again, who are we going to fear? May the warning of Jesus Himself encourage us to be a church that invests in the kingdom by sharing the gospel and making disciples, which inevitably and must lead to planting churches.