Pastors, Don’t Be Passive on Planned Parenthood

This is my latest piece for Leadership Journal: how pastors can lead their churches to fight for life in this cultural moment: 

Pro-life activism has been a part of Christian witness throughout church history, but has received particularly focused attention by evangelicals and Catholics since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Now, though, we find ourselves in a unique cultural moment. The third in a series of undercover sting videos was just released this week, bringing to light the hideous reality of Planned Parenthood’s macabre abortion enterprise. To hear medical professionals casually discuss the deliberate termination, dismembering, and sale of babies has stirred the American conscience. Congress is opening investigations and voting on legislation to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding. Corporations are distancing themselves from the abortion provider and even progressives not known for anti-abortion advocacy have spoken out against Planned Parenthood.

Millions of people are seeing the brutal reality of what has always been labeled by abortion providers as a safe and clinical practice.

Millions of people are seeing the brutal reality of what has always been labeled by abortion providers as a safe and clinical practice. New technologies, such as ultrasound machines, smart phones that capture video, and social media have converged to cause us to see what we didn’t previously: the humanity of the unborn and the gruesome nature of abortion. As Columnist Ross Douthat puts it, we’re just starting to realize that “an institution at the heart of respectable liberal society is dedicated to a practice that deserves to be called barbarism.”

But how do pastors and church leaders lead their people through the outrage to champion the sacred value of human life? How do we bring the hope of the gospel into the brokenness of our world?

Rightful rage

There are many opportunities for outrage these days, but our people are right to be deeply angry at what they are seeing in these videos. President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Russell Moore points out that “for a Christian, such language ought to trigger in us thoughts of Jesus of Nazareth, who identified himself with human nature, taking on flesh and dwelling among us (Jn. 1:14).”

Our moral indignation reflects the righteous anger of a God of justice. Cain, the murderer, was told by God that the blood of his brother Abel cried to him from the ground. Jesus, upon viewing the lifeless corpse of his friend Lazarus, wept and groaned angrily at the curse of sin and death. When we protest the killing fields of Planned Parenthood, we’re rightfully raging against the Serpent himself, whom Jesus called a murderer (John 8:44).

Expressing sadness, anger, and grief on social media is not a wasted effort. It can mobilize the Christian community and strike at the consciences of those outside the faith. It can nudge public officials and community leaders to act in response.

Pastors should not shy away from stewarding their influence and addressing this issue. They should model for their people how to think and act in this cultural moment. For some pastors this might mean thoughtful engagement on blogs and social media, not only helping their people process what they are seeing in these videos but to saturate the conscience of those outside the faith and point them to redemption in Christ. For others it might mean pursuing conversations with church members and community leaders, helping to localize a national story.

But seeing, grieving, and speaking is only the beginning of our call to defend and work toward human dignity.

Read the full article here:

The Way Home Episode 28 featuring Owen Strachan

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Chuck Colson was a towering figure among evangelicals in the last half of the twentieth century and on into the twenty-first. His story of redemption motivated generations of young people to commit to Christ and his winsome cultural witness is still being felt today. This is why I’m delighted to be joined on the podcast by Owen Strachan, newly minted associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Seminary and author of a great new book, The Colson WayOwen and I discuss the model of cultural engagement championed by Colson and how it instructs today’s generation of evangelicals.

Listen to this week’s episode

Play

Show Notes:

  • On the podcast I mentioned our new resource, The Weekly. This is a weekly email newsletter, written by our staff, that curates the most important news stories and offers some brief explanation. Most of us are incredibly busy with our families and our jobs and don’t time to digest the news from a distinctly Christian worldview. The Weekly is a quick, but informative read that will show up in your inbox every week. You will want to sign up for this email.
  • Owen’s twitter: @ostrachan
  • Owen’s blog: Though Life
  • Owen’s book, The Colson Way

Why Encouragement is Not Optional

From my recent article at In Touch:

“I love working with you, Dan.” It was only a simple text from a colleague, but it buoyed my spirits during an intense week of work on a project together.

As I thought over his kind comment, it reinforced to me a simple truth I’ve learned during my years in leadership: Affirmation may be the most valuable currency in building relational capital. I’ve served on large ministry teams, I’ve led a small church staff, and now I serve in an executive role. I’m also a husband and a father of four. In all of these contexts, regardless of the environment, I have found that nothing is more important than consistent encouragement.

People closest to us need to hear words of affirmation from us. They need to hear them regularly, consistently, and sincerely. Not empty words of flattery, like something we’d type on Facebook on someone’s birthday (“best husband in the whole world!”), but genuine and heartfelt praise for the unique gifts and contribution of those closest to us.

What’s interesting is how little we think about encouragement. It seems a nice thing to give to others, but not terribly important. Yet in Scripture we find not only the wisdom that reveals the utility of kind words (Proverbs 25:11), but also the command to encourage, especially among followers of Christ. God’s children should be people who “build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Pastors and church leaders are tasked with the ministry of encouragement (2 Timothy 4:2 NIV). And this is not just a once-a-year-at-the-company-party type of empty praise. The writer of Hebrews says encouragement should be a daily part of Christian witness (Heb. 3:13).

So why don’t we encourage more? Read the full article here

The Way Home Episode 27 featuring Jon Acuff

Mixed group in business meeting

Today’s workforce is increasingly more mobile. People are facing career transitions at younger ages and are being forced to adapted to changing environments. So how do pastors and church leaders help their people facing new careers? Today’s podcast features Jon Acuff, blogger, best-selling author, and speaker. He was recently profiled in Christianity Today. Jon first burst on the scene as the very funny proprietor of the Stuff Christians Like blog. He’s since written several books on career and calling and is a great voice on applying the gospel to work life. His latest book is Do OverJon and I discuss career transitions, calling, and his own recent career do over.

Listen to this week’s episode

Play

Show Notes:

  • On the podcast I mentioned our new resource, The Weekly. This is a weekly email newsletter, written by our staff, that curates the most important news stories and offers some brief explanation. Most of us are incredibly busy with our families and our jobs and don’t time to digest the news from a distinctly Christian worldview. The Weekly is a quick, but informative read that will show up in your inbox every week. You will want tosign up for this email.
  • Jon Acuff on Twitter: @jonacuff
  • Jon’s website: acuff.me
  • Jon’s new book: Do Over
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