The courts can make abortion illegal, but only God through His church can make abortion unthinkable. At Care Net, we believe this. Beyond politics, the church must be committed to creating a culture where women and men never consider abortion. If we're going to make abortion unthinkable, God can and will equip church leaders to show compassion, hope, and help to those making life decisions.
In Mansfield, Ohio, Richland Pregnancy Services (RPS) is committed to involving church leaders in a unique way. Instead of sitting back in numerous meetings and thinking, "Oh, I wish church leaders would get involved with our Pregnancy Center." RPS started asking, "What can we do to involve church leaders?" Here are 4 ways Richland Pregnancy Services connected with church leaders.
How Richland Pregnancy Services Connected with Church Leaders
1. They created an event.
One of the major barriers to moving forward is taking the first step. I know this from setting goals. But taking the first, small step makes all the difference and applies to connecting with leaders in your community. If you're interested in connecting with your community leaders, think of an event you can host. Start small, and set a date. Make a list of potential speakers and frame up the event around an idea of what you want attendees to know about your center.
Richland Pregnancy Services reached out to Care Net's President & CEO, Roland Warren, to speak at a luncheon they created.
Action: If you haven't held an event previously, consider a small event you could host in your area. It might be a lunch gathering like the one Richland hosted. Maybe it's a small breakfast or banquet dinner. Depending on your budget, time, and resources, you can decide what's worth trying. I've found that hosting dinners can be great, but attendees sometimes expect more food or entertainment than a breakfast, so the budget can grow fast.
Question: What event could work for your area?
2. They invited church leaders.
For Richland, this was their first church leaders' luncheon. Amy Kahl, Executive Director said, "We've invited area leaders, not just pastors, but elders, deacons, youth ministers, mission leaders, to come and hear about what's happening with Richland Pregnancy Services and how they can reach out to women and men who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy."
I love this. Did you catch what Amy said? Richland Pregnancy Services didn't simply invite the Senior Pastor at the largest church in Ohio. They invited various church leaders in various roles. I don't mean anything negative toward Senior Pastors. They simply receive many requests each week. Lay leaders are rarely asked and let's be honest, they are the ones who are more likely to show up. I say this as a lay leader at my church. : )
Action: Invite the people you want to attend. Sounds silly to type this; but, you'd be surprised, when it's time to promote your event, you'll find reasons to not spread the word. Mostly because you care so much; and, if you're like most ministry-minded people, you don't enjoy talking about yourself. But this isn't a time to be shy. Think of it this way, you're not promoting yourself. You're promoting the ministry work. I wouldn't want to beg for something for myself. But, I'd beg for a cause or ministry I care about.
Question: Who will you invite to your event? Now, think of people in roles around that person's position to invite.
3. They shared stories.
You've worked through the first two ways. Now it's time to plan what you'll do at the event. My suggestion: share stories. First, share your story. But be careful here. This isn't your "about us" section where you tell about how you got started, your history, and whatnot.
No, remember this phrase: make God the hero. First, because God is the hero. Second, your story will be better if you point to Him and His work rather than "look at what I did." Most leaders don't intend to do this, but it happens.
You could tell a story from a mom and dad you've worked with or a personal story from your founder. But, hear me say again, don't make it about the couple or the founder. The story should be about how God worked, about His grace. The real point for any story we tell should be for those attending to hear the story and want to join God in what he is doing through your ministry work.
Roland Warren spoke to over 80 church leaders from around Richland County at this event about the importance of discipling women and men experiencing unplanned pregnancies. Warren explained in one key highlight for church leaders in attendance,
In a biblical context, Jesus had all these different people coming to him with different needs. This one had too many demons, this one too many husbands, this one too much money, this one too much pride, and with all those folks, he met them at their point of need, and then he called them into a discipleship relationship.
Do you notice something here? Roland wasn't talking about himself. Now, he could tell a story from his past if fitting. But, if so, Roland would still point the story to God and His Word. If you want to connect with church leaders, point to God, not yourself.
Action: Share a story from your center, but keep it more about how God is at work through the people at your center.
Question: What is one story people in your community need to hear? How could you point people to God through that story?
4. They pointed leaders to helpful resources.
At the Richland Pregnancy Services event, Roland said, "Water for the thirsty, food for the hungry, clothes for the naked, homes for the homeless...as Christians we think of these things through the lens of discipleship. But what about compassion for the pregnant?"
Warren said he hopes church leaders will see, "This is discipleship. This is part of the great commission. It's helping someone facing a pregnancy decision, make a life decision helping them build a strong family so they can raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord." Roland then pointed leaders to Making Life Disciples, the resource to help churches and leaders see the life issue as a discipleship issue.
Action: Consider what you would point people to for more information and helpful resources related to your center. It might be telling attendees about the services you provide and how local leaders can help—from donating to volunteering. You might point to a resource like Making Life Disciples or something that would resonate with your attendees. It may simply be telling people about the next event you have planned. So start planning your next event now!
Question: What is one resource you want to attendees to know about?
More Details on Richland Pregnancy Services
Richland Pregnancy Services is a Care Net affiliate and provides pregnancy services and mentoring at no charge. They remain connected with families and single parents until their child is two-years-old and older. Crisis Pregnancy Centers need partner churches and volunteers to walk with families long-term. For more information on why it is essential to partner with your local, life-affirming pregnancy center like Richland Pregnancy Services view Care Net's video on Making Life Disciples.
Find RPS online Richland Pregnancy Services.
Watch the video from the Richland leaders luncheon and read more about the story at Richland Holds Church Leaders Luncheon.