I want to bring to your attention an effort that I believe will not only reinforce your efforts in walking through Making Life Disciples, but enhance, sharpen and add necessary longevity to them. This effort comes by starting what we call at Churches for Life, a Life Team.
What is a Life Team?
A Life Team is a versatile, flexible tool that acts as a vehicle to work with the local church with the necessary resources to accomplish their mission and purpose. It is a way of organizing yourself and others to work in the context of the church body while not fully-dependent upon para-church organizations and ministries to do what is the task of the church. A Life Team is similar to any other trusted ministry team, like your church’s mission’s team or women's ministry team. Like them, a Life Team equips your church to enjoy and express the gospel, especially around issues like abortion but also issues related to it upstream and downstream. What follows are four reasons you should consider starting a Life Team in your church with Making Life Disciples as the first thing you do.
1. To identify issues upstream from abortion and prioritize where to serve
One of the first things you are equipped with in the Life Team training is connecting and prioritizing issues relating to abortion. This works by first recognizing those life issues that possess greater immediacy. For example, issues like abortion and physician assisted suicide both put judiciously innocent humans in imminent peril. Sexual infidelity, on the other hand, which is directly upstream from many if not most abortions, is not in the same category as abortion. In the wake of wanting to be comprehensively, pro-abundant, holistically, consistently pro-life, there has been a tendency to over emphasize issues that do not imminently threaten life. Do we need to address faithfulness in marriage? Absolutely. Is immigration an issue we should discuss? Of course. But if we start somewhere, we should start with those issues that are imminent threats to life instead of those that are not. As the Life Team leads you to be more equipped, you can become more consistently life affirming in the rest.
2. To identify circumstances that create barriers to ministering to the abortion-minded
One inadvertent barrier we often make in the church is to overlook the miscarriages, still-births and death of children in our context. Even though you would never say that the child in the womb of an abortion minded mother is more important than the child who died in a miscarriage, consider what the following scenario communicates. You’ve gone through MLD and are assisting the local pregnancy center in identifying and discipling abortion minded women. You’re excited about the work and want to get more of the church involved. How do you think the family that just suffered a miscarriage will feel about your excited calls for members of your church to get involved in serving those considering abortion? Without acknowledging the needs of that family, your actions to care for the women at a pregnancy center could be misinterpreted to say, “their children are more important than yours.” Is that true? Of course, not! But if you do not pause to grieve and minister to this family where they are, you may very well cement a barrier in their minds to never get involved with MLD.
3. To provide a needed structure, and support to meet a high challenge
You’re on a road trip with your family. After five hours driving, the youngest starts to scream. He’s hungry, tired and needs a break from being cooped up in a mini-van. A town appears and the only two restaurants are a McDonald’s and a local café. Which do you choose? You choose McDonald’s! Why? Because you’ve never been to that local café, but you have been to McDonald’s. You already know what to order, about how much it is going to cost, and better yet, so does your family! A Life Team works in a similar way. You are able to provide the necessary expectations, not just about meeting times and goals, but also a consistent structure so that, if you leave the church, the efforts of MLD carry on. Furthermore, if you have ever done any kind of work at a pregnancy center or been a sidewalk counselor outside an abortion clinic, you know how intimidating it can be. The challenge of being present at either of these places is no joke! Having a structure in place for a team to flourish allows you to minimize the challenge of this often-difficult ministry.
4. Because you weren’t meant to do it alone
Discipleship presupposes more than one person. That’s obvious to us. But sometimes we miss out on the beauty of the church as the body of Christ when all the people doing the discipling don’t get to be discipled themselves. A Life Team is a great way to put those like-minded “disciplers” together. Your gifts, aptitudes and strengths are different than others. Where you are a stronger brother or sister to someone else, you may be weaker in another area. The Life Team has a set process to assist you in discovering your talents, praising it in others, and recognizing where you are deficient. We are most deficient when we are most alone. Christ didn’t do ministry alone, and neither should you.
If these four reasons are enough to pique your interest we would encourage you to go to www.getintolife.org to learn more!
Josh is a graduate of Wheaton College, a student at Covenant Theological Seminary and Teaching & Communications Director at Churches for Life. You can follow him on twitter @JoshHoller.