What does it mean to be a "pro-life" church? We're glad you asked! Our answer to this question is simple, biblical, refreshing, and perhaps unexpected.
A “pro-life” church is gospel-driven: its people are happily captivated with their being-rescued by God in the gospel. Gratitude to God for His grace in Christ motivates a “pro-life” church to affirm life in joyful, consistent, and humble ways. A “pro-life” church is not motivated by anger, guilt, politics, or raw duty.
A “pro-life” church is multi-faceted: its people are interested in a variety of issues where defenseless human beings are being put in peril, including infertility, sexuality, (crisis) pregnancy, abortion, post-abortion healing, parenting, adoption, foster care, elder care, bioethics, medical ethics, and more. A “pro-life” church is interested in people at all stages of life, including embryos, the unborn, orphans, those with special needs, the elderly, those at the end of life, and more. A “pro-life” church is not only interested in the unborn or in ending abortion. Here is an excellent graphic that pictures this multi-faceted view of life issues.
A “pro-life” church is consistent: its people champion life throughout the year out of their gratitude to God for their being-rescued. A “pro-life” church does not just focus on life one Sunday each year.
A “pro-life” church is careful: its people equip themselves and others at an appropriate speed with grace and truth. As such, a “pro-life” church lives out of their own experience of Christ, who lovingly and patiently equips them as the Prince of Grace and Truth. A “pro-life” church is not harsh, reactionary, reckless, or abrasively confrontational.
Imagine making a special announcement to your congregation during Sunday morning worship. You proceed to gladly inform the people that your church is starting a new pro-lifeministry. Now imagine you could read minds. What would your hearers be thinking as they pondered the idea of a “new pro-life ministry” in the church?
Based on our experience, most people – including church folk – would be thinking, “So, we’re starting an anti-abortion ministry.” If they pondered more deeply, it’s very likely that images of angry protesters, bombed abortion clinics, and political activists would cross their minds. Some, especially women who have had an abortion, might feel condemned or overwhelmed with guilt. Others, fearful of moral attack, might stop thinking and shut the door of their mind.
Now, it’s not that you said anything condemning or angry. It’s that the phrase you used (“pro-life”) is already invested with meaning. And for most people, it’s negative, wall-building meaning that stunts your ability to connect. Here’s why we recommend replacing the phrase pro-life:
Avoid these wall-building, ministry-crushing problems by replacing the term pro-life with bridge-building terms like champion of life, life arena, or life-affirming. Start a Life Team or Life Ministry, not a Pro-Life Committee. These labels step around the pitfalls listed above and open the opportunity for positive, fresh definition. They give you the chance to show people a new kind of life ministry – one they can embrace. In short, they will help you connect with and involve people as champions of life!