Ministry in a Post-Roe America
- What does pro-life ministry look like in a post-Roe world?
- How can the church articulate a compassionate vision for supporting women in crisis-pregnancy situations?
- How do pastors lead at this moment?
These and other questions were covered in this candid webinar. Cohosted by Christianity Today and the National Association of Evangelicals, this virtual roundtable featured a diverse panel of Christian leaders from advocacy, pastoral, and theological backgrounds.
The panelists included:
Watch the Full CT Webinar
Watch the video of the CT Panel now and find highlights below for more details on how we can serve with more compassion, hope, and help to those seeking abortions.
Don't miss the highlights and takeaways. What follows is not a fully transcribed version of the panel, but key highlights from Roland Warren (RW), president of Care Net, as he answered questions from host and CT board member, Walter Kim (WK).
WK: News reports have shown that a lot of pregnancy centers are coming under attack and as a president of a network that includes pregnancy centers, what is your vision for these ministries, churches, and organizations, that are seeking to offer compassion and help to those considering abortions in this post-roe world?
RW: In terms of the vision, our perspective is getting the Christian community to view the life issue primarily through the lens of discipleship. It's primarily a discipleship issue because every good work that Christians do should lead to discipleship.
Roland continued, "We as Christians instinctively understand water for the thirsty, food for the hungry, clothes for the naked, homes for the homeless…all is on ramps to discipleship. But because of how politicized the life issue has become, compassion for the pregnant tends to be outside of that perspective. And so, a key part of Care Net’s ministry model is, as a Christian, for you to start viewing the life issue through the lens of discipleship—which means that you're seeing it anchored in the Great Commission and you see someone who's facing a pregnancy decision as a mission field."
So this person who's facing an unplanned pregnancy, your first thought shouldn't be, “Do they have material support?” or “Who do I vote for so they can have an abortion?” Your first thought should be, as a Christian, this person needs to be a disciple of Jesus Christ—because that's the Great Commission. And then, the child growing inside of her needs to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, and the guy who got her pregnant needs to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
The Great Commission is not to overturn Roe V Wade, the Great Commission is to make disciples for Jesus Christ—and to see any situation that we're facing as an opportunity for discipleship in the same way that Christ did.
Jesus had folks who—this one has too many demons, this one has too many husbands, this one has too much money, this one has too much pride—he met each and every one of those folks at the point of need and then called them into a discipleship relationship. That's the transformation of thinking that was needed in a pre-Roe environment and absolutely needed in a post-Roe environment. This isn’t an issue that's outside the church. It's inside the church. It’s the mission of the church.
Secondly, we have to look at this issue from the perspective that God designed for the family. If you look at women who have abortions, 86 percent of those women are unmarried. I think one of the most troubling things I've seen in this movement is the de-linking of the marriage from the life issue. There are two issues here—there's the sanctity of marriage and family and the sanctity of life.
In fact, in the birth of Christ which—was an unplanned pregnancy from a human perspective—what did God tell Joseph?
First, do not be afraid to take her as your wife. Not your Baby Mama but your wife. In other words, what you see in that response to an unplanned pregnancy from God's perspective was, that He created a family and called Joseph to be a husband to her and a father to the child growing inside of her.
That is a missing narrative in the pro-life work and that's the reason why, at Care Net, we don't call ourselves pro-life. We call ourselves Pro Abundant Life based on John 10:10 and that pro-abundant life perspective includes God's design for family. So, building strong families that can support this woman—that can support the child that's growing inside of her. We must build a structure so that she doesn't become a repeat customer of a pregnancy center or an abortion clinic. Then finally God's call to discipleship. Those two pillars are absolutely unique.
WK: What does discipleship look like? For pastors and leaders, what are some practical recommendations for how I can begin to disciple my church?
RW: Let me give you a practical example of this making life disciples approach. This is a real example I was involved in. A woman faced with a pregnancy decision during COVID. She's pregnant with her seventh child (has six children under the age of 10), the guy is not in the picture. She goes into a pregnancy center and the pregnancy center does what it's supposed to do—helps her understand her options.
But there's one other option available to her: the local pregnancy center has a making life disciples coordinator at the pregnancy center who meets with her, and finds out all her different needs—a lot of which have nothing to do with the abortion: her 10-year-old daughter can't do math well, and, her 6-year-old son can't read, she can't get her youngest in daycare... the list goes on and on.
Folks in that church who were part of the making life disciples team began to walk alongside this woman and help her meet those needs. She didn't ever darken the door of a church. They just loved her. They offered her compassion, hope, and help. She came to a point where she's four months pregnant and she still hasn't named the baby.
By the fifth month, she finds out the child has a chromosomal disease, and that if the child will be born it would have severe disabilities. This woman, because of the love of Christ that these people show, brought this child into the world anyway. The child died after a couple of days and folks are still loving her. Why? Because they didn't look at the life issue through the lens of a pro-life perspective.
In other words, they didn't say, "The baby is gone so I guess our work is done here." No, instead, they looked at it through the perspective of, "She is made in the image of God and she needs to become a disciple of Jesus Christ and we're gonna show her that love and we're gonna show her six children that love."
I'm talking about a few people in your church getting trained on how to come alongside someone who's facing a pregnancy decision to offer them compassion, hope, help, and discipleship in the love of Christ. This is what we should have been doing before Roe V Wade was overturned and it's absolutely needed after Roe V Wade has been overturned.
There are over 400,000+ churches with only one percent of churches doing what I'm talking about. There could be more churches doing this than the entire pregnancy center network. The pregnancy center community cannot be the only response. There's just not enough of us.
The response to a post-roe America is our people in the pews. Life decisions need life support—each and every person is sitting in a church with a buoy in their lap that someone in the community needs. As we come together as the body of Christ, believe me, that overturns Roe in the hearts and minds of people even if laws are there; because abortion becomes unthinkable. We help people become disciples of Jesus Christ. That's what Christ did, everybody he helped, he called into a discipleship relationship.
WK: Is there a final thought or resource that you would recommend?
RW: I would say that I don't see this as an insurmountable task for us. I'm hopeful because I believe that we have the ability as a body of Christ to respond to this. But we've got to be thinking about it through a lens of meeting the physical, emotional, spiritual, and social needs of folks through the body of Christ.
I want to encourage people to go to makinglifedisciples.com. You'll see a framework of how to talk about the life issue in a way that transcends the political narrative—or even physical support—but views it through a discipleship lens.
Start coming alongside women and men facing pregnancy decisions—a guy who's running away from the pregnancy because he's never had a father in his life. Maybe you can mentor him. The couple has a frayed relationship and is thinking about abortion, you can come alongside them. The young mom can't get her prenatal visit, you're retired and can drive—you start linking together these practical supports that people facing pregnancy decisions need. What you'll start to see is that folks who—even though abortion may be totally legal all the way through birth in their state—find it unthinkable. Life decisions need life support—that is what the body of Christ is uniquely positioned to provide.
Here's one recommended resource for learning more and helping give people more compassion, help, and hope.
Making Life Disciples > Courts can make abortion illegal, only God through His Church can make abortion unthinkable. Visit Making Life Disciples for details on how you and your church can make disciples.