By / Feb 23

In 2021 and early 2022, International Mission Board missionaries serving in Ukraine heard rumors of war, which led to an overland evacuation. Looking today in the rearview mirror, they realize they couldn’t have guessed the trauma about to mushroom from the east.  

Less than one month after the missionaries’ exodus, war made a forceful entry into the country they’d come to call home. The war ripped the life from the bodies of more than 7,100 civilians, tore husbands from wives and fathers from children, decimated towns and cities, stole childhoods and livelihoods, and wrought immeasurable havoc on the eastern European nation. 

That the war continues one year after the invasion comes as a surprise to many and is a testament to the interminable resolve and resilience of Ukrainians. That the Ukrainian church has grown, despite the upheaval and chaos, is a testament to the power of the gospel and the perseverance of the church. The church’s growth ballooned out from the country’s borders, following like a parachute to the cities and towns where refugees found welcoming hearts and arms.  

Ukrainian Christian refugees brought the light that could not and would not be extinguished to countries with significantly lower populations of evangelicals. Ukraine is home to the highest percentage of evangelicals in Europe. 

Their dispersion meant the gospel was also dispersed. 

Responding to the needs of Ukrainians

IMB ministry to and among Ukrainians has not halted in the year since the war began. Although IMB missionaries cannot currently live in Ukraine, they remain emotionally and relationally present with Ukrainians. Through Send Relief and IMB missionary presence, Southern Baptists continue to respond to the needs of Ukrainians.

What does it mean for IMB missionaries to be steadfastly present in a time of war and exile? It means:

  • loading a truck and trailer with provisions to take to physically and mentally disabled people in Ukraine, 
  • singing praise songs in a community center-turned-church and leading small group Bible studies in church basements, 
  • driving a van across the countryside to host mobile medical clinics, 
  • continuing to provide theological education for Ukrainian pastors, 
  • and making daring trips into Ukraine to oversee disaster relief projects. 

The world’s greatest problem is still lostness. IMB missionaries and their national partners are still running the race the Lord has set before them—a race to share the promise of the gospel with Ukrainians in their hour of greatest need. 

Looking back 

In the first few months of the war, IMB and Send Relief efforts centered around providing food, supplies, access to shelter and emotional and spiritual care. IMB missionaries, European Baptists, and Southern Baptist volunteers met refugees fleeing across the border and met them in the cities where they landed.  

As the days turned to weeks and the weeks turned to months, churches in multiple countries continued to take in refugees and welcome them into their congregations. New congregations of war-weary refugees formed. Refugee children attended Christian camps and reclaimed some of the childhood they had lost. IMB missionaries invested their lives in the refugees living in their cities and made trips back into the country to visit national partners. Missionaries and their national partners hosted Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas parties, which provided much-needed time for community and celebration. 

The poignancy of the gospel and the generosity of Christians led to changed lives.  

Send Relief has facilitated 98 Ukrainian relief projects since February 2022. These projects centered in Ukraine, Poland, Romania and Moldova. Volunteers with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief made the trans-Atlantic journey to serve on the border of Ukraine. While there, they provided relief in many forms. 

Southern Baptist generosity knew no bounds. Gifts to Ukraine relief thus far have totaled $12.9 million, with $10 million given to Send Relief and $2.9 million given to the IMB. 

IMB missionaries developed digital engagement strategies to reach Ukrainians both inside and outside the country. The reach has been astronomical—22.5 million people visited a website created as an outreach tool.  

Looking forward 

Dan and Lori Upchurch served with the IMB in Lviv, Ukraine, before evacuating ahead of the Russian invasion. They now serve Ukrainian refugees in Poland with their teammates, Sarah and Kanoot Midkiff. They helped facilitate a relief center to meet the physical needs of refugees and planted a church with their national partner. They lead small-group Bible studies and partner with Ukrainian church planters. Dan continues to teach classes at the Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary, first online and now by traveling back to Ukraine.  

After evacuating Kharkiv, Ross and Kasey Lewis and Linda Gray, joined later by Journeyman Harrison Martin have invested their lives ministering to Ukrainian refugees in Romania. They minister in refugee centers and now host mobile medical clinics throughout the region. They recently purchased a van and ultrasound machines.  

Mike and JuliAn Domke took up temporary residence in Hungary, where they minister to Ukrainian refugees. Mike also oversees 20 Send Relief projects in Ukraine and makes frequent trips there. 

IMB missionaries who serve across Europe have added ministry to Ukrainians to their ministry routines. 

David and Shannon Brown and Ayden and Lorelei Klarke serve in Moldova and partner with the Moldovan Baptist Union to serve the many Ukrainian refugees who crossed the country’s eastern border.  

Only the Lord knows how long the war will last. Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, but there’s something about Jesus’ name—the name that extends past rumors of war. 

Send Relief is the joint compassion ministry of the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board.

This article originally appeared at Read past stories from Ukraine of God’s work through Send Relief and the IMB. Look for more stories coming in the month ahead.

Photo details: IMB missionary Dan Upchurch leads a Bible study for Ukrainian refugees in a Polish Baptist Church. The church has been actively involved in meeting the needs of refugees. Upchurch shares 2 Corinthians 4:9-10 and talks about how God does not leave his people in times of persecution. IMB Photo

By / Nov 22

Ten years ago, a dozen ministers and local church members in Lebanon, Tennessee, decided to investigate what they had been told—that a small homeless community was growing in their county. On a winter day, they went into the “woods” of Lebanon behind one of the busiest thoroughfares and found evidences of a homeless camp, including tents, groceries, and diapers. Troubled and burdened by this discovery, the small group decided on one simple goal: No one would freeze to death in Wilson County. 

A homeless ministry is born 

This goal ultimately led to the formation of Compassionate Hands, a ministry to the homeless population with a vision “that the Wilson County community of faith be Christ’s hands and feet to our neighbors in need.” 

For over 10 years, Wilson County has been buzzing with new growth—economic and population—creating wonderful opportunities and experiences for its people. The county sits just over 150,000 in its 2021 population, after growing by 35,000 people in the last decade. However, such growth has created an unintended consequence.

As property values rise and rent payments go up, many families and individuals are having trouble finding or keeping affordable housing. In addition, as word spreads about the job creation happening in Middle Tennessee, people from all over the country have arrived on a search for opportunity, but without much of a plan. These factors, along with the inescapable difficulties of life, have left a portion of the Tennessee county’s population without a home. 

The main thrust of Compassionate Hands is to provide temporary shelter for men and women in Wilson County every night in the winter months. A large network of volunteers from churches of all sizes keeps the system running each night. Each year the system has looked a little different, and COVID presented immense challenges, yet CH persevered. 

Dinner is provided for those who arrive and after a short vetting process, these individuals are taken to different host sites across the county. A rotating group of churches offer their facilities to house the men and women. The homeless are provided a safe and warm place to sleep, as well as a warm breakfast. Laundry service and the ability to take a shower are also available. In the morning, a bus takes the individuals to various places across the county and leaves them with a sack lunch. 

The coordination among so many churches and volunteers requires significant oversight. John Grant has been serving as the executive director of Compassionate Hands since 2018. Grant was a part of that original group who visited the homeless camp in 2013. He was the first full-time staff member for Compassionate Hands and has grown the team to eight members at present. In addition to their winter housing, CH now has a Center for Hope and Renewal that stays open all year to feed individuals, lead faith-building classes, and provide a place for showers and laundry.

Previously serving at a local church, Grant was both sad to leave church ministry, but also eager to begin with CH, citing his desire to serve the community, his network of friends at churches and his personal giftings. 

“I think it was a call from God. This was a ‘John Grant’ shaped role,” he said.

Misconceptions about the homeless

All of those involved in the ministry are quick to point out misconceptions about the homeless. They regularly and lovingly refer to them as their “homeless friends.” Many of those in need who have come to Compassionate Hands have full-time jobs and cars. Many are locals who grew up in the same community and have fallen on hard times. 

In Grant’s experience, he estimates that “one third have an addiction. One third have mental illness, and a third have had bad luck.”  

“I was scared and concerned about inviting homeless people into our church building,” Grant said describing his church’s first evenings with Compassionate Hands. “What I’ve learned is that the homeless people were also scared of us and skeptical of churches. They’re spending the night with strangers too. Homeless people are really not that different from you and me.”

“The Good Samaritan is one of our key stories,” Grant said, referencing the story found in Luke 10. “We think Jesus is bringing us people who are battered and bruised by life.”

Dawn Bradford has served with the ministry for many years and currently sits on its board of directors. Bradford said Compassionate Hands has “absolutely changed my life.” 

“Yes, it’s inconvenient and sometimes a little uncomfortable, but it’s not about me, it’s about living out the biblical principle of thinking of others before your own needs,” said Bradford.  

John Ashman is a volunteer with Compassionate Hands, along with his wife Bonnie. Their experience serving has made a profound impact on their lives. 

“Often when we see homeless people on the street, we may see them as lazy, dirty, and not worthy of respect. But when we sit by them during the evening or morning and talk with them about their lives, we see that they are usually people who have had a some bad breaks,” Ashman said. 

One of the most emotional moments for Ashman came one Christmas. 

“Due to the generosity of our church members, we were able to put together backpacks with a number of food items, personal care products and some warm hats and gloves,” Ashman said. “Church members wrapped the items, so that on Christmas morning, they were able to open the presents, just as if they were living with their families. One man said ‘It’s been a long time since anybody gave me a Christmas present.’”

Every year, the ministry has experienced growth. At this time, over 40 churches from 16 faith traditions had partnered together through Compassionate Hands, providing over 12,000 beds and 13,000 meals to over 400 men and women. Over 20 individuals or families have been able to transition into full-time housing with assistance from CH. This remarkable ministry is modeling for other Christians what it looks like to meet needs, foster unity, and change lives in your community—with no signs of slowing down. 

By / Oct 31

Most pastors likely answer the call to ministry with great expectations of what the Lord will use them to do. And while pastoral ministry is rewarding, many pastors can often find themselves in seasons of burnout and discouragement. Pastor Mike Minter, author of Stay the Course: A Pastor’s Guide to Navigating the Restless Waters of Ministry, has had a long and faithful vocation in ministry and shares words of wisdom and encouragement to pastors walking through turbulent waters.

Elizabeth Bristow: In your experience, what happens to bring a pastor to the point of burnout?

Mike Minter: There are a number of contributing factors that conspire to bring down a pastor. Too much self reliance can be a major issue. The mentality of “I can do this by myself” or the belief that asking for help is a sign of weakness, when in fact, it is a sign of pride. It can be lonely when you’re at the top, and without strong accountability burnout occurs in a matter of time. Carrying internal secrets leads to heavy burdens, and if a pastor is struggling and has no one to turn to, he is on a path to emotional trauma.

EB: What role does accountability play in helpful discussions surrounding ministry burnout? 

MM: The Lord has made it clear that we are to bear one another’s burdens. (Gal. 6:2) We can’t do that unless we share in them. Forty-eight years ago, a pastor friend of mine came to me over lunch and said, “This ministry stuff is hard.” We had both planted churches at the same time. I thought little of his comment at the time until he had a nervous breakdown the next day and never returned to ministry. To this day, I wish I would’ve acted on his comment. Perhaps I could have helped prevent such a loss. I trust this illustration shows the need for pastoral accountability.

EB: In the book, you say the state of pastoral burnout can lead to the imploding in moral failure. What steps should be taken to prevent this from happening? At what point should pastors seek help?

MM: “Let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). A pastor needs to seek help every day through prayer and introspection to see if he is progressing in his sanctification. If he realizes he is slipping, it is time to get help. Most pastors see themselves as specialists in giving help but often struggle to receive help. It’s crucial for pastors to take a daily inventory of their hearts to help keep them refreshed in the Spirit and stay alert to signs of moral decay.

EB: After your long and faithful career in pastoral ministry, what advice would you give to someone just starting out? 

MM: My number one piece of advice is to put away all expectations. Dreaming of having thousands come to hear you preach is like believing you will win a gold medal at the Olympics. The difference between expectations and reality is disappointment. Give your expectations to the Lord since he is the One who said he would build his Church. Secondly, seek humility above personal ability.

EB: How does today’s cultural climate, with all its vitriol and expectations, contribute to ministry burnout? 

MM: I believe the internet [can be] the greatest tool of the enemy’s attack. Social media has put many pastors in depression by reading about others who started a church in their basement a month ago and are now renting a 2,000-seat auditorium. Vitriol is not at all pleasing to Christ. I have never been on social media, and suppose it can be used for good, but I know many who have suffered at its hands. 

By / Oct 25

A little over a year ago, I plucked my family out of the Land of Enchantment (New Mexico) to return to the great state of Texas. I was having the time of my life as the pastor of a small, thriving church in the middle of nowhere, but as my dad’s health deteriorated, I reached out to a pastor in Texas and said, “Help me find me a church, any church in Dallas/Fort Worth.”

While some may only consider bigger or larger churches, I’ve always gone in the opposite direction, serving progressively smaller churches in almost 23 years of ministry. In a follow-up call, I remember saying, “Bro, there can be 10-20 people; just help me get to DFW.” His reply, however, caught me off guard: “How about DOM of Collin Baptist Association?” 

I was speechless for a moment but replied, “I’m 37 years old; I can’t be a DOM.” For those unaware, “DOM,” or “director of missions,” is now called an “associational mission strategist” and used to be called “associational missionary.” If you’re still scratching your head, this role leads the most local level of Southern Baptist Convention cooperation, usually in a county or a few neighboring counties. In fact, according to Ray Gentry, “Even before there was a Southern Baptist Convention, associations were the cornerstone of cooperation among Baptist churches in America.”

Anyway, I had a problem.

I knew of a few exceptions, but I’d only been in churches with older, retired pastors-turned-associational missionaries. They were always incredibly encouraging, but in my ignorance or personal experience, I only saw them as golf buddies, lunch partners, and pulpit suppliers. Well, I’m terrible at golf, and while I love to eat, I didn’t think my calling was to spend my days going from restaurant to restaurant. 

So, I said no, but my friend countered that my reluctance to replicate my personal experience, desire to network with churches for church planting, experience in church revitalization, and a heart for encouraging pastors was precisely what his association needed. I nevertheless agreed to pray about it, and he said he would, too.

Before I go on, allow me to provide a caveat. I have nothing against retired pastors serving as directors of missions or associational mission strategists. In fact, I think it’s a great thing! Many have a wealth of experience and wisdom they could provide young pastors starting out, churches going through pastoral transitions, and more. My experience, however, simply led me to my earlier response.

Suffice it to say the association received my resume, and I eventually landed an interview. In my questionnaire and subsequent interviews, I made my feelings pretty straightforward: I believe an association is at its best when it is focused on planting churches, strengthening churches, and encouraging pastors, not just serving as the one-stop spot for pulpit supply, golf outings, or endless meals. 

Don’t get me wrong, pulpit supply and fellowship are a part of it; I just didn’t believe they were the heart of it. Before I knew it, our association agreed and called me unanimously. We were on our way to lead the Collin Baptist Association, a network of Southern Baptist churches in Collin County, one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation.

Understanding local associations

In the Southern Baptist Convention, you have local churches all over the country. Most of these fully autonomous churches choose to cooperate with local associations, state conventions, and the national convention. Some may be more or less involved on any level, but in a sense, these operate in concentric circles to ultimately fulfill the Great Commission.

Think about it this way, by way of an example:

  • A local church can go door-to-door to evangelize.
  • A local association can host revival services in which their churches participate.
  • A state convention offers evangelism training or conferences.
  • Our SBC entities offer curricula or programs to use.

In other words, the local church aims to advance the Kingdom in their city, the local association aims to help the local churches advance the Kingdom in their county, the state convention aims to help local associations and churches to advance the Kingdom in their state, and all cooperate as the Southern Baptist Convention to advance the Kingdom across the country and around the world.

While there’s more to it, it all comes down to cooperation. One local church can accomplish much for the Kingdom, for certain, but in cooperation with 120? 2000? 40,000? The impact on the Kingdom only grows! Thus, this article on the value of the most local level of Southern Baptist cooperation, the local association. I want to answer two questions:

  1. What is the value of the local association?
  2. How can you partner well with an association?

The value of the local association

I realize this may come across as self-serving since I’m an associational missionary trying to tell you there is value in a local association. Still, I truly believe there is significant value for you and your church. For example, when I was the pastor of Mayhill Baptist Church, we gave generously to several missionaries and church plants. Even if we threw all our financial support behind one church planter or missionary, it would fall short of covering their financial needs. However, in cooperation with other churches in our association, we were able to fund these dear saints to advance the Kingdom fully.

In other words, one church can accomplish a lot, but many like-minded churches partnering together can accomplish much more. That’s true of the Cooperative Program, and it’s true for local associations. Our association in New Mexico had an ESL (English as a Second Language) ministry that reached scores of Spanish-speaking immigrants with the good news of Jesus. Where’d the volunteers come from? The local churches in our association. How was it funded? From the generosity of the churches in our association.

I could go on and on about how local churches can do more in their geographical areas by cooperating with like-minded churches in their association, whether through disaster relief, church planting, pregnancy centers, food banks, or evangelistic events, but I think you get the idea. One church can make a difference in the Kingdom, but dozens of churches working together can do so much more.

Additionally, for pastors, we know ministry is awesome, but it can be hard at times. It can be lonely. We can’t always open up about our struggles with one of our church members. One of the things virtually all local associations offer is the opportunity to get together to encourage and be encouraged by fellow pastors. Back in New Mexico, my best friend was the only other pastor we had in our association under 40. We sought and received much wisdom and insight from the pastors with much more experience than us––it was such a blessing.

From working with fellow churches in your area to meet needs and advance the Kingdom to finding mentors and confidants in fellow, like-minded pastors, the value of the local association comes in looking beyond what you can accomplish within and from the four walls of your church. Watch what happens when you link arms with fellow pastors and churches in your area to do more, together.

Partner well with an association

However, you won’t see the value of local associations unless you cooperate with them. My friend J. Allen Murray says, “Cooperation necessitates participation.” We all had those team projects in school where one or two didn’t pull their weight, and local associations can be the same. An association’s value is only as great as the level of participation from the churches in the association.

If you’re a pastor or church member, go to the meetings, go to the fellowships, and reach out to the associational missionary to ask how your church can be a part of what the association is trying to do. Don’t just use the association as the one-stop spot for pulpit supply; see what God is doing in and through your association, and find a way to be a part. If you don’t see anything happening, get involved and make it happen! 

Are you skilled at church constitutions and by-laws? Let the associational missionary know you’d love to help if a church wants to rework its governing docs. Are you a whiz with all things audio/video or live stream? Offer to help share your skills with those that need it. Do you have decades upon decades of experience in pastoral ministry? Offer to take the youngest pastor in your association out to eat and become his mentor. Again, I could go on and on, but to see more value in your local association, you need to get involved. 

Southern Baptists say we are better together often, and rightfully so. It’s in our DNA. We know it’s the foundation of the Cooperative Program, but it’s also the foundation of our local churches, local associations, state conventions, and the family of churches we call the Southern Baptist Convention. But remember, cooperation necessitates participation––give your local association a try, pour into it, and let it pour into you. If you do, I suspect you’ll join me as the world’s biggest fan of the most local, practical level of cooperation in the Southern Baptist Convention.

By / Oct 11

We live in an age experiencing the disastrous effects of the sexual revolution. Confusion over basic concepts such as man, woman, and marriage are but the latest divergence between a culture committed to radical individual autonomy and a church committed to Scripture’s teaching. Local congregations daily face questions of gender dysphoria, same-sex unions, and on basic concepts of what it means to be a man or woman. The ERLC seeks to come alongside and assist pastors and ministry leaders to answer those questions in light of Scripture’s clear teachings with resources like these and future projects.

Below, we have given a basic theological framework from God’s Word for approaching questions of gender and biological sex. Additionally, there are some practical guidelines for churches to consider in updating their bylaws to ensure that they are afforded as much protection as possible under the law. It is our hope that at both the theological and practical level this resource will be helpful to you as you serve your congregation. 

A theological framework of sex and gender

God created you. At its most basic level, the fact that we are created by God means that we are limited by the design that God has given us (Gen. 1). Recognizing that we are created by God means accepting that we do not have absolute control over our bodies and how they are to be used (Is. 29:16). They are to be used in accordance with God’s design and purpose. When we attempt to usurp God’s design, we repeat the sin of Adam and Eve who desired to be more than just “like God” but rather to become God (Gen. 3:5). Remembering that we are created and therefore finite grounds our theology of the body and gender (1 Pet. 1:24). 

God created you with a body. Contrary to popular understanding, our bodies are inseparable from who we are. We are not souls trapped in a body (1 Cor. 6:12-20). The Christian church has long understood and upheld the worth of the body, looking at both the creation account of Genesis where God declares the world good and the Incarnation of Christ where a perfect and holy God took on flesh and blood (John 1). As Christians, we must not fall for the lie of culture that our bodies are to be changed to meet our self-perception (2 Cor. 10:5).

God created humans male and female. In the opening pages of Genesis, the author tells us that humanity was created in God’s image and created male and female (Gen. 1:26-27). We often focus on the former, but the latter declaration is just as important. The author’s description is an acknowledgement of distinction and difference between the two. Men are not women, and women are not men. Yet, we should not overplay these differences in an unbiblical way because, as the next chapter reminds us, there is nothing more like man than woman (Gen. 2). Still, those differences are there and part of God’s design. Neither is more important or carries more of the image of God, and both are necessary to fulfill the command given to steward creation and multiply. As Christians, we recognize the ways that God has designed both men and women as distinct, yet equal expressions of humanity. 

God created male and female to complement one another. The opening pages of Scripture remind us that we are made in God’s image, and that men and women are to complement one another (Gen. 1:26-27). At its most basic level, this complementarity is revealed in biology: both man and woman are needed for sexual reproduction. It also reveals itself in a range of social and relational aspects (Eph. 5:21-33). At its core, complementarity glorifies God and is a reminder that we are created, finite beings who are unable to live in existence without others (Gen. 2:18). Though our current context seeks to blur the distinctions between men and women to the point that they are interchangeable, Christians recognize that each gender has something that is distinct and special. Neither can exist without the other (1 Cor. 11:11-12). 

The Fall affects how we perceive our bodies. The effects of sin have broken every part of creation. This includes our own self-perception and understanding (1 Pet. 1:14). The presence of disorders such as gender dysphoria (when a person’s perception of a mismatch between their gender and their body causes distress) is one example of the way sin has warped our understanding. Christians must recognize that sin is able to powerfully deceive, even to the point of thinking that bodily mutilation is the way toward happiness (Eph. 4:22). In contrast, Christians must offer a word of hope and a reminder that our bodies are good gifts given to us by God, not obstacles to be overcome. 

God meets those broken by the sexual revolution with compassion and grace. We are repeatedly reminded that God has compassion for those who have been broken by sin. The pages of Scripture are filled with the story of a God who cares for those who have been deceived, abused, and mistreated by society and culture (Jonn 4; John 11). Christians must recognize that the sexual revolution has been built upon empty promises. Many people have been (and will be) left hurt, confused, and at the end of their rope, looking for hope and answers: those who were deceived to think that casual sex was meaningless, our bodies could be changed as we saw fit, and that their gender was unimportant to who they were. The response of the church is to be the same as the response of Christ: “a bruised reed he will not break” (Matt. 12:20). We offer the same grace and compassion given to us and seek to restore those who have been broken by the lies of sin. 

COMING SOON: Downloadable, printable version of “A Theological Framework of Sex and Gender” for use in your church or ministry.

The importance of bylaws 

The ERLC worked with Alliance Defending Freedom to create a resource guide for churches to update their bylaws in light of challenges related to sexual orientation and gender identity lawsuits. Below are the five areas where churches can provide clear frameworks outlining their faith and religious convictions to protect themselves so that they can continue in ministry that is faithful to God’s Word and brings about gospel transformation. You can read the entire guide here.

Statement of Faith (p.5): The Statement of Faith should serve as an encapsulation of the foundational theology of the church or organization. In addition to the usual topic of salvation, doctrine of sin, or church polity, a statement of faith should include the position of the church related to matters of gender, sexuality, and marriage. Because these issues now regularly confront churches, it is imperative that churches and religious organizations clearly put forth their belief in marriage’s foundational role in society, that it is rightly restricted only to one man and one woman, and that gender identity flows from and is inextricably connected to biological sex. 

Religious Employment Criteria (p. 11): Churches and religious organizations should strongly consider creating a religious employment requirement for all employees so as to avail themselves of the full weight of First Amendment jurisprudence. Under the “ministerial exception” churches and religious institutions are able to take religious belief into consideration when hiring and firing without penalty under non-discrimination laws. By clearly defining roles according to their contribution to the organization’s religious mission, and having employees sign the statement of faith, they can protect themselves from legal challenges.  

Facility Use Policy (p. 14): A fear of many churches is that they may be required to grant use of their facilities to couples who may wish to use them for a wedding ceremony the church would not sanction or other events. In general, churches are free to grant access to their facilities as they wish because they are private property. However, they can further protect themselves by creating a clearly defined facility use policy that identifies the religious nature of the building and restricts use of the facility to those who act in accordance to your beliefs. 

Formal Membership Policy (p. 16): While many churches have an informal process of affirming or recognizing church membership, their legal protections are increased by formalizing the process. In ideal circumstances, their written process should cover the procedures for becoming a member, procedures for church discipline, and procedures for disfellowshipping or excommunicating a member. Each of these helps to provide a legal framework protecting the church and providing clarity to members of the expectations of membership and the processes that can be expected in times of discipline. This can be especially helpful if a member objects to the church’s implementation of disciplinary measures. 

Marriage Policy (p.18): In addition to the statement of faith which clearly outlines the church’s theology of marriage, churches should create a marriage policy which outlines the parameters under which pastors, ministers, or staff will solemnize a marriage. This marriage policy may include not only a statement on belief of marriage as between a biological man and woman, but also another statement on the use of the facility for marriage ceremonies. Additionally, churches may consider adding a provision that only members will be able to use the facilities to provide a further layer of protection if the church has a requirement that members affirm the church’s statement of faith. 

COMING SOON: Downloadable, printable version of “The Importance of Bylaws” for use in your church or ministry.




Podcasts and Videos

By / Sep 15

As our families settle back into school rhythms this fall, we can kick off the new school year with an important tradition: Children’s Mission Day. Since 2008, Southern Baptist churches have celebrated Children’s Mission Day. Held on Sept. 17, the Women’s Mission Union (WMU) established this day to practically connect children to a world in need of the gospel by getting out into their local communities. 

Where the mission meets its role

This special day helps families live out God’s love in tangible ways (1 John 3:18). Here are three ways your family can participate in Children’s Mission Day this year.

  1. Host a pancake breakfast at your home.

Create flyers to pass out, and invite your neighborhood to your home for a pancake breakfast. Keep things as easy as possible, including using disposable plates and utensils. If neighbors offer to contribute, always say yes. With a simple offering of coffee, tea, pancakes, and syrup, you can springboard into building connections and chances to talk about your faith. 

Kids can help with the creation and distribution of the invitations as well as set-up and clean-up. Children also make excellent greeters! Create a basket of Christian books guests can take for free, including options for kids. Suggestions: Mere Christianity, ESV Illuminated Scripture Journal: Psalms, What is the Gospel? tract, Jack vs. the Tornado, and The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross.

Be sure to pray together for your neighborhood as you prepare, and continue to lift up your neighbors as you get to know them better.

  1. Arrange a visit to a senior center.

Connect with your local senior center about visiting with your family. Your children can prepare gift bags for the seniors and spend time interacting with the elderly during delivery. 

Check with the staff about what items would be appropriate, but some ideas include: sugar-free candy, large print Sudoku or crossword puzzle books, puzzles, flameless candles, unscented lotion, coffee/tea, lip balm, potted flowers, or blank note cards. 

Kids can assist with shopping and filling gift bags. Be sure to include a simple Scripture note card (or Bible verse) with a small note from your family. Pray for the seniors you’ll encounter during your visit.

  1. Combine picking up trash with a neighborhood prayer walk.

Help clean up your neighborhood while also praying for God to draw many to himself. Since the Bible is clear God wants all people to know him (1 Tim. 2:4) and we should lift up those outside of Christ (Rom. 10:1), we can pray for the Lord to work in the lives of those who don’t know Jesus in our community.

Prior to the prayer walk, write down Bible verses onto index cards that your family can pray over your neighborhood as you collect trash. Some verses to consider: Psalm 66:1; Psalm 117; 1 Chronicles 16:8; Ephesians 2:4–5; Romans 15:8–9; and Malachi 1:11.

As your family picks up trash, pray for pertinent community issues, residences you pass, businesses in the area, and local schools. Ask God to move in big, powerful ways in your community!

Gear up for a simple, but powerful way to show our kids the importance of living out our faith in the communities around us. As our families participate in Children’s Mission Day, we are a part of a larger community of churches doing the same—and our witness shines brightly to a lost world.

By / Aug 8

When Karen Ellison was 22 years old, she walked into a pregnancy resource center in Virginia Beach, Virgina, as a student intern, but also, as one who had experienced the pain and lingering effects of an elective abortion. As she began to lead a Bible study for post-abortive women, God led on her journey of healing that resulted years later in the development of Deeper Still, a retreat-based ministry focused on bringing healing and freedom to abortion-wounded hearts. 

The Dobbs case and its resulting national attention on the topic of abortion are very likely emotional triggers for the millions of women and men who have participated in an abortion, says Ellison. Below, she shares her experiences and helps us consider the ways in which individuals in our churches and communities might still be in need of healing from past abortions, as well as the importance of this work to the future of the pro-life movement.

Jill Waggoner: Based on your experience, what effects do those who have participated in an abortion struggle with?

Karen Eillison: It manifests differently for different people. Clearly, people experience what I call “true moral guilt.” When we break God’s laws, we are guilty of a moral violation. You have shed innocent blood, even though people don’t recognize that’s what they did. They just know that they aren’t pregnant anymore and don’t want to know the details. Some people will recoil against the statement that abortion is murder and be defensive, shielding themselves from that truth.

However, when the Holy Spirit works and they realize this was their child, they [become convicted]. There’s a moral guilt that you can’t get rid of on your own. At that point, many try to self-atone. Self-atonement shows up in lots of different ways, but many try to be perfect. They decide they’re going to be the perfect wife and the perfect mom, or they are going do amazing things in their career or in serving the church. They have to do something to deal with the self-hatred they often feel.

Shame is the other main effect I see, coupled with guilt, and it manifests in a different ways, as well. Shame causes some people to shrink back and have no confidence. Another way shame manifests is through an attempt to cover it with a false bravado or anger that says, “I’m going to shout my abortion.” A lot of shame, self-hatred, and an attempt to not be defeated by these feelings is under that posture.

Grief is a huge effect of abortion, and it’s often undefined. People don’t know what they’re grieving because they never allowed themselves to call the child within them a baby. It’s a vague, lingering cloud that some people refer to as depression, and it can truly be. It causes people to believe that nothing good is ever going to happen to them, and they can’t get past this feeling. 

Healing, God’s way, allows you to define what is going on in you. You can define that moral guilt and recognize that you do need atonement for this. You reject the shame because you don’t have to wear it anymore when you have been forgiven by the blood of Jesus. You can you call the aborted child, your child, and you legitimately have a loss. Your grief is legitimate. A compassionate response to people who have experienced abortion is to say: you don’t have to carry your grief alone.

Those are the ways internal brokenness manifests. When people don’t know how to go to the Lord in confession or how to bring those things to their church body, people will try to anesthetize their pain. Perfectionism is one way, as I mentioned, but we also see substance abuse, addictions, promiscuity (that’s searching for someone to love me), and superficial relationships. People are often empty, angry, and sorrowful.

JW: Why should Christians care about this?

KE: Our nation is abortion-wounded. We have a curse of innocent bloodshed. Sixty-two percent of women who have had an abortion are religiously affiliated, according to Guttmacher. There is a huge population of Christians who are abortion-wounded, and they are not talking about it. We have to reach out with [a message of] healing.

My own healing has always been a part of this ministry. I’ve been shocked since Dobbs at how little I’ve been hearing from Christian leaders on the need for healing. There’s been a lot of right emphasis on pregnancy care centers and helping moms, proving that we care for them beyond the pregnancy, and that is 100% true. But, I think people in the church wrongly think the damage is done and there’s nothing else to do for those who participated in elective abortions. That’s not true. We have to move to helping them heal.

Many people with an abortion-wounded heart will feel ashamed, shrink back, and can’t talk about their abortion even though many men and women will say, “I know I’m forgiven.” They equate forgiveness with healing, and those are not the same things. Forgiveness says your debt has been canceled, but that doesn’t mean you’re healed. Forgiveness means you’re not responsible for that debt anymore through Christ, but your heart has still been wounded. Healing is usually some type of a process the Lord takes you through. 

JW: In addition to a ministry of healing, what do those who carry the scars of abortion need from the church?

KE: I address this question at length in my book, Healing the Hurt that Won’t Heal: Freedom for the Abortion-Wounded and Help for the Church They Fear.

Pastors and church leaders carry a tremendous shepherding responsibility. We need to hear from them. Women and men in the pew need to hear the truth about [all of us] being made in the image of God. We need that teaching in order to have the legitimate conviction from the Holy Spirit that these are babies made in the imago Dei

We also need to hear from our pastors that the blood of Jesus is stronger than abortion-wounded hearts. You can be thoroughly forgiven because of the blood of Jesus. The blood of Jesus, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the body of Christ can bring healing. 

Some pastors are afraid to address this topic. They have been told that if you open this Pandora’s box, you’re just going to do damage and hurt women more. So pastors tip-toe around it and don’t press in. But we need to develop both a culture of life and a culture of healing. If you develop a culture of healing in your church, people will come to you with their brokenness and sin. Determine to be a safe space. Churches need to say: Jesus has the ability and desire to heal you, and this is a church you can come to. We are going to walk through this healing with you. 

JW: How has the Dobbs case and the national attention on the topic of abortion affected the people you serve?

KE: The subject of abortion is not going to go away, although I do hope abortion itself is going to go away. There was a time I couldn’t even say the word “abortion.” An abortion-wounded person often cringes or aches every time you hear the word or hear a news report. There is often a sick feeling in your stomach and a desire to run away. There is a trigger that is going on [because of the national conversation]. Our prayer should be: help people to know that they need healing from you, Lord. 

For example, at our retreats, our participants are mostly men and women in their 50s and 60s who have been running from their abortion for 20–30 years. People run for a long time. If you are still feeling these affects decades later, it’s not going to go away. Let’s pray that God is surfacing it to use it for good. The enemy will try to use it to bring condemnation, but God wants to bring healing and freedom in Christ.

This interview was edited for length and clarity. 

By / Jul 26

Tears of joy filled Stacy’s eyes, her elbows propped onto a desk in Central Asia. She couldn’t believe the email from an acquaintance. Women from her sending church wanted to throw her a virtual baby shower. Stacy was expecting her first child, but Central Asian culture didn’t involve hosting a party for the expecting mother, but instead the soon-to-be parents would hold a big feast for family, friends, and neighbors about a month after the child was born. 

Stacy hadn’t realized how much missing this American milestone would matter until she was halfway around the globe. But that detail hadn’t been overlooked by her sending church—including coordinating the delivery of gifts with one of the pastors when he would visit in the middle of her family’s first four-year term.

A church’s commitment and support for sent-ones is a key ingredient to seeing the gospel reach the ends of the earth and extends beyond prayer (although prayer is a non-negotiable component). The partnership between the local church and its missionaries is a work in progress and doesn’t transpire without intentionality.

Finding your role in missions

Cultivating an environment where church members value taking the gospel to nonbelievers around the globe and understand their part—through sending or going—is crucial. With feedback from pastors and missions leaders, here are five ways your church can participate in missions through sending out workers well.

1. Foster a missions-minded perspective within your church. Unless a church deeply cares about God’s heart for his glory among the nations, a fellowship will not be actively engaged in its global role. Elders should possess a vision for how to engage the lost worldwide and bring members along in this plan. One practical starting place: pray for countries around the world from the pulpit Sunday mornings.

Consider creating a monthly missions reading group to discuss books that equip those interested in missions (and members to grow in their understanding) that cover topics such as conflict resolution, crosscultural evangelism, global discipleship methodologies, missiology, and ecclesiology. 

2. Be on the lookout for potential missionaries and pathways to get them to the field.

Equip potential missionaries through involvement in the church life and ministry opportunities (evangelism, discipleship, service). Consider engaging your fellowship in local area ministries that soon-to-be goers can come alongside to learn, serve, and grow in outreach and relational skills. 

Many field workers leave their place of service due to team conflicts. Help future sent-ones cultivate conflict resolution skills while at your fellowship so they are better equipped to handle these interpersonal issues down the road. Additionally, ensure workers are aware of emotional needs and develop tools to utilize as personal issues are often magnified on the field due to the stress of a new culture, language, and team dynamics.

Church leaders should research organizations that align with the fellowship and its vision for reaching the lost and determine what it would look like to send a member through that group. for church that are a part of the Southern Baptist Convention, that organization is the International Mission Board.  

3. Cultivate the missionaries’ church connections. Involve your congregation in developing a relationship with the goers (such as inviting them over for a meal) and allow them to be a part of a public commissioning service. The better a fellowship knows their sent-ones and the more they are involved in this process, the better they will engage on the field with them. 

Prior to the sent-one leaving, provide ample opportunities for the missionary to be seen and interact with your church. This can be accomplished through visiting small groups, interviewing the goer up front briefly on a Sunday morning, having the missionary visit the children’s ministry, and publicly praying for that sent-one. 

Create a support team for the field worker as they prepare to leave. These are folks who know the missionary well and commit to pray for and remind others to care well for the goer. 

Clear expectations about how the church intends to support the missionary while overseas (financial support, pastoral/church visit, corporate prayer support) should be communicated to the fellowship and goer. This reminds everyone of the partnership and the role each will strive to fulfill. 

4. Actively support the goer on the field. The first term of service can be extremely stressful as the goer encounters a new language, culture, and team. Provide regular outlets to listen to the missionary as they serve; this allows your fellowship to track with their ministry and health (spiritual, emotional, marital). The church should be ready to assist when necessary with professional counseling, physical needs, and additional training.

Be creative in reminding your congregation to pray for your supported worker. Consider a short video call during a members meeting, Sunday school class, or small group with an update from the missionary. Let kids learn about your sent-ones during Sunday classes and include updated prayer prompts. Provide books that give insight into ministering in places where your goer lives on your bookstall.

5. Extend stateside support when field workers return. Ask the missionary to share about her ministry with your congregation and encourage members to practice hospitality with her. Invite the worker’s input regarding missions at your fellowship.

The return to the U.S. after being away for years can be challenging. Instill a healthy understanding among your congregants that missionaries are to be commended for their faithful service, but not idolized. Provide space for conversations about what was and wasn’t working ministry and partnership-wise between the missionary and church leaders. Collaborate with other churches and organizations to grow in serving sent-ones and to leverage ministry reach.

No matter your fellowship size, every member can engage in global ministry through equipping, supporting, and praying for missionaries. As your church strives to be a light to the nations through the proclamation of Christ, may your hearts find joy in partnering with those sent out among you to the lost across the earth.

By / Jun 27

Many ministry leaders live at a pace that is impossible to keep. Unrelenting busyness might feel necessary, but it can lead to chronic stress and burnout that hinders our love for God and others. Instead of adding more to our long to-do list, counselors Eliza Huie and Esther Smith seek to guide readers in how to think biblically about every aspect of life in their new book, The Whole Life: 52 Weeks of Biblical Self-Care. Huie and Smith hope to give Christians a framework for biblical self-care to help them live for Christ by stewarding well the spiritual, emotional, relational, and physical areas of life. Below, they discuss and right understanding of self-care and why it can enable us to minister more faithfully. 

Jill Waggoner: How is the term “self-care” so often misunderstood in the Christian community? In reality, why is it a biblical concept? 

Eliza Huie and Esther Smith: The term “self-care” has been broadly used in secular circles and wellness platforms in various ways. From expressing healthy priorities to using it as means to justify a self-centered and indulgent lifestyle, people’s understanding of what self-care entails differs. More self-centered forms of self-care have likely contributed to concerns that Christians have when they hear the term. However, another contributing factor is likely a wrong understanding that a life of self-sacrifice means you should not care about your own needs. This is not what the Bible teaches nor is it what Jesus modeled. 

Self-care is a biblical concept when we consider it in light of three things that are reflected in our definition of biblical self-care. We define biblical self-care as “the practice of drawing on divinely given resources to steward our whole lives for personal enrichment, the good of others, and the glory of God.” Biblical self-care is about stewarding everything God gives us. This includes resources such as our time, energy, health, relationships, skills, and abilities. These things enrich our lives so that we can do good to others and glorify God. 

JW: What have you seen in your counseling experience that confirmed the need for this book? 

EH & ES: Being in the helping field of work, we were both aware of the high levels of burnout experienced by counselors and caregivers. An article from The American Psychological Association states that 50% of mental health workers report high exhaustion and cynicism. Ministry workers don’t fair much better. One study completed by the Schaeffer Institute indicates that 1,700 pastors leave the ministry each month. These pastors state their primary reasons for leaving is due to experiences of depression, burnout, and overwork. Statistics like these underscore what we know: it is very easy to put the critical needs of others above our own need for rest and refreshment. 

We also saw the need for this book in our counseling practice. Whether it was the college student feeling unable to keep up, the homemaker experiencing exhaustion, or the professional burning the candle at both ends, we saw people who had little concept of how to wisely care for themselves. When they did take steps to care for themselves, they often felt guilty about it. In light of all this, we knew a book like The Whole Life was absolutely essential.

JW: Personally, how did you come to realize self-care was a necessity? What are a few of the things each of you do regularly to take care of yourselves?

EH: For me, it is easy to say yes and hard to say no. Much of this, I believe, comes from a good desire to help others as well as having a natural entrepreneurial personality. I love being a part of building something. Whether I’m investing my energies into a project or a person, I jump in with both feet. But this is not without a cost, and I was starting to feel that cost. I began to feel overwhelmed, and stress started to impact my body. In addition, I felt the negative impact of the emotional stress I was carrying in various ways including difficulty sleeping and other health challenges. I started feeling like the act of spinning many plates was normal. As much as I hate to admit it, I did not want to slow down, but I knew a frenetic pace was not healthy physically, emotionally, relationally, or spiritually. 

A couple of things I do to care for myself so that I can serve others well are to get up early and read and listen to the Bible. Reading while I listen allows me to really focus on God’s Word. My mind can easily wander, so this is one thing I do to ensure that my time in the Word is not distracted. Undistracted time with God seems to set a tone for the day for me. I also try to spend time in nature as often as I can. I find breathing in the fresh air and noticing the beauty of whatever I happen to encounter on my daily walk revitalizes me. Sometimes my husband joins me on these walks, and we both have found it beneficial to our personal and relational health as it affords us time to slow down together. 

ES: Over 10 years ago, my life was interrupted by chronic pain and autoimmune illness. It soon became apparent that I would need to make major life adjustments to manage my symptoms. After years of searching for answers, I was diagnosed with lupus, and since then, I have found it necessary to slow down.

One area of self-care that is especially important for me to regularly practice is a balance between exercise and rest. Most days I find time for gentle exercise. Every day, I make sure I find time to rest my body. This combination of movement and slowing down is essential for my body and mind to function at their best. Another important self-care practice for me is reading. From slowly reading through a devotional to spending the afternoon with a good novel, I find that various types of reading are beneficial for my well-being.

JW: How was The Whole Life written to be used?

EH & ES: The book is divided into 52 short chapters. The chapters cover six essential areas of our lives including faith, health, purpose, community, work, and rest. Taking the time to go deep into each of these areas over the course of a year allows the biblical application of self-care to become embedded into our rhythms and routines. We did not want this book to be read and set aside. We hope people will read it with intention and create space to apply what they learn. While the book is meant to be read and applied alone, it has great potential to be useful in group settings as well. 

JW: Stewardship is a word you use often in The Whole Life. Usually, we think of stewardship in reference to how we spend our money, but how does stewardship apply to every part of our lives?

EH & ES: The Bible does not limit stewardship to our finances. We are called to be good stewards of God’s varied graces (1 Pet. 4:10). This includes ourselves, holistically. God gave us bodies that need care. He gave us souls that need attention. He put us in relationships that require time and effort. He designed us to think and feel deeply about our life circumstances, and we must wisely manage our responses to those circumstances. Being good stewards means we are aware of how we are doing in all these areas of life, not only how we spend our money but how we spend our time and energy. Stewardship includes all the various parts of our lives that the Lord has given to us. 

JW: Why do some of us feel like we have to keep pushing ourselves, even when we become physically burned out? How have we confused biblical admonitions to justify this behavior?

EH & ES: Pushing through to the point of burnout happens for a variety of reasons. One common reason is that people find themselves stuck in busy schedules and simply aren’t sure how to change. Our culture makes it easy to fall into overwork. To a large degree, peoples’ ability to work and be productive is equated with their value. Working hard makes us feel competent and worthy. At times, we push through out of false guilt, legalistic tendencies, savior complexes, or because we feel uncomfortable at the mere thought of not being productive. When signs of burnout surface, many people push forward because they underestimate the consequences of this choice or because they have never seen a more balanced life modeled to know what it might look like. 

The question we need to consider is this. Do we really think working in that way is biblical? Or do we just use that idea as an excuse? The most common Scripture people use to support pushing through to the point of burnout is Jesus’ encouragement to take up our cross and deny ourselves. As Christians we are to live self-sacrificial lives, give to those in need, and not grow weary in doing good works. We use these commands to justify overwork. In reality, these commands can exist alongside our human need for spiritual rest and physical refreshment (1 Kings 19:4-8). 

JW: Why is emotional health so often neglected? Why is there such an embarrassment and stigma attached to getting professional help?

EH & ES: Many people neglect emotional health simply because they don’t realize how important it is. Some Christians circles view emotions as dangerous or deceitful experiences that only serve to lead us astray. This fear can prevent people from discovering how important emotions are to our ability to connect with others and navigate struggles. It can also lead people to shut down their emotions or become frightened when they struggle to manage them. 

Professional help is stigmatized for a variety of reasons. The inability to handle emotional or mental problems is often associated with feelings of weakness and failure. Many people believe that if someone only prays enough or recites the right Scripture, then problems will be bearable. In this context, needing professional help feels shameful. People feel defeated that their faith was not strong enough to get them through the struggle. However, God never designed us to walk through life alone. He designed us to live in community and to find help and support from others as well as from him and his Word.

JW: How important is community to living an overall healthy life?

EH & ES: It’s hard to overstate how important community is to living a healthy life. Most of us take community for granted and don’t realize its importance until it isn’t available to us. For many people, the importance of community was highlighted as they experienced isolation throughout the pandemic. People saw that the inability to worship in person affects us spiritually. The absence of regular human contact increases depression and anxiety. Loneliness impacts our physical health. Long periods of isolation highlight how much we need community to live a healthy life. 

We weren’t created to be alone. On the contrary, we need each other. Conversations, physical contact, and human presence are essential parts of self-care. We need people to mourn with us, rejoice with us, encourage us, and stick with us through the ups and downs of life. Other people are essential to our growth and sanctification. Being in community is not only essential to our relational health, it is also a necessary aspect of our physical, emotional, and spiritual flourishing.

A version of this interview previously appeared at New Growth Press.

By / Jun 24

Today, the Supreme Court announced a historic decision that overturns the disastrous precedent set in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. This decision represents a moment that we all have been praying for and working toward for decades.  Many of you as pastors and ministry leaders are seeking to lead your people well in light of this momentous decision, as well as through the contentious times ahead for our nation.

We want to partner with you in this effort and have produced several resources to this end. Below is a statement you may want to use or adapt in order to communicate with your church about today’s Supreme Court ruling on the Mississippi abortion case.


What has happened: The U.S. Supreme Court released a historic ruling in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case on Friday, overturning the disastrous abortion precedent set by the court and sending abortion decision-making back to the states. We are now living on the backside of a deadly national legal environment that existed for nearly 50 years, under which over 60 million babies were aborted. This is a moment many have prayed and advocated for, and we thank God for his provision and for those who have worked tirelessly toward this day in our nation’s history.

What happens next:  The question of abortion is now a state-by-state decision, and those who believe that life begins at conception must work to advance pro-life measures and create a culture of life so that the preborn are protected and families are supported in every state (Psa. 139:13-16). Out of love of God and for our neighbors, we must continue to advocate for just policies that honor the sacredness of life and seek to elect representatives that will enact laws to make abortion illegal, protect the preborn, serve abortion-vulnerable mothers, and criminalize abortion providers. (Mark 12:31).

Even as we work toward making abortion illegal in our states and our nation, the reasons why women seek abortion won’t change overnight. More than ever, women and families will need compassion, hope, and practical help to meet their needs (Col. 3:12). The work of pregnancy resource centers will be critical in each community and are central to the goal of supporting families. More children than ever will be in need of loving homes, whether that be through foster care, adoption, or supporting women in crisis who choose life. The Church has been called to and equipped for this very moment

Keep in mind: Many in our midst bear the emotional and physical scars of abortion, whether they themselves have had an abortion or have participated in one. Let us cling to the truth of the gospel and the hope of our salvation in Christ that overcomes even our darkest stains. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). No matter our sin, God has told us “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psa. 103:12). Regardless of our pasts and our individual sins, we have all fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

Satan is the accuser and delights in heaping on shame and sowing lies. In the days and weeks to come, we need to redouble our efforts to stand for the dignity of every human being, including the preborn. As believers, we must fight the accusations, shame, and lies with the truth of the gospel, rooted in love of God and neighbor (Matt. 22:37-39)

How we can pray:  

  • Praise to God for hearing our prayers and for rescuing more innocent lives from death, (Psa. 10:14-18)
  • Pray for more laws to protect the preborn to be enacted and for the dignity of the preborn to be cherished throughout our communities, (Prov. 15:29)
  • Pray that a robust culture of life would take root in our nation, making abortion not just illegal but unthinkable, (Isa. 44:24)
  • Pray for the work of pregnancy resource centers, clinics, and churches in supporting women and families experiencing unintended pregnancies to continue and increase, (2 Cor. 9:8)
  • Pray for those who have experienced or participated in abortion to know the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness of all sins for those who repent, (Rom. 8:1)
  • Pray for the church to be a place of refuge for all who have been caught in the lies of the sexual revolution, (Psa. 14:1)
  • Pray for peace in our nation and for the Lord to stem thoughts of violence, (James 3:18)
  • Pray for more families to open their homes to foster care and adoption to serve children in need, (Matt. 18:5) and 
  • Pray that God would be glorified and his character would be displayed in all that we do and say in these critical days (Matt 5:16). 


We are standing with you in this moment. And it is our prayer that this guide will enable you to communicate well with those in your church so that they can go into your surrounding community as salt and light, serving the vulnerable and sharing the hope of the gospel.