How Pastors Can Gently Endorse Our Need to Heal
Women’s marches and public exposure of Planned Parenthood practices can act as triggers for women and men experiencing abortion trauma. Newsworthy changes in abortion laws can also make fresh the pain of losing a child to abortion in the past.
“Satan is the one who wants us silent about abortion because, when we talk about it in light of the gospel that saves, redeems, and heals, he knows his gig is up.”
~ Joni W Shepherd
Abortion is Uncomfortably Close to Home
If you’ve followed Parts 1 and 2 of this article, you know two vital facts about abortion besides the obvious – that it kills babies:
- The majority of abortions in America are done on women who identify with the Christian faith.
- Abortion trauma is real and affects not only moms in your church, but also dads, grandparents, and siblings of the children that are lost.
Abortion is the one major issue that negatively affects more people in the world and the church than any other single issue. Yet, abortion is the least talked about subject in the church. Because it is so convoluted in politics and other obstacles that pastors face, they usually don’t know how to begin talking about it.
Those who are wounded by abortion suffer in silence and solitude because the church is silent. In turn, the church is silent about it because of the silence of the wounded who don’t feel it’s safe to talk about. As a result, church leaders seldom realize how big and deep the problem is. The silence remains.
Let’s stop this ridiculous cycle! Satan is the one who wants us silent about abortion because he knows when we talk about it in light of the gospel that saves, redeems, and heals, his gig is up. Someone needs to stand up and say the word in its proper context. Like this: “Abortion causes a mess of trouble, but God and His love are bigger!” Then, live that out. Until we do that, we will remain in Satan’s uncomfortable space of awkwardness.
Pastors and Ministry Leaders Can Make a Powerful Difference
A national event, like abortion law changes, can be one of the easiest lead-ins to broach the subject for the first time. Very little prep is needed, like reading this three-part article. It’s safe to conclude that most churches, including yours, have men, women, and grandparents attending who have lost children to abortion.
They likely have never heard the word uttered in church other than perhaps about the tragic loss of babies in an inhumane manner or in the context of fighting liberal abortion laws. Just going to church on the “wrong” Sunday, like Mother’s Day, triggers their abortion wounds. Then, the national news opens it further.
Here’s how pastors or ministry leaders, in his or her own words, can speak life and healing into the silent wounded:
- MENTION THE OBVIOUS: Such as the recent abortion laws or other abortion-related subject in the news.
- DISCOUNT THE POLITICS: Assure the congregation this issue is about people, unborn children and their parents and grandparents. Politics can be upsetting on both sides of the fence, but people are affected by abortion on both sides of the fence.
- REFOCUS ON TRAUMA TO THE LIVING VICTIMS: Talk about the fact that, in the past, Christianity has focused primarily or singularly on the loss of babies, and that while this is tragic, we don’t focus enough on the trauma of abortion to moms, dads, and grandparents. We’ve tried to save the babies without first saving the moms through resources and information.
- TELL A STORY: Invite someone from your church or nearest pregnancy center to tell their story. Or read part of someone’s story of abortion trauma and healing. (For a quick resource, grab one from Part 2 of this article.)
- APOLOGIZE: (You may already talk about abortion transformationally in your church. You don’t have to be personally guilty of something to apologize. Nehemiah, a righteous man, repented before God for the sins of his people, and he used the word, “We”.) Apologize on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ to those who have lost children to abortion. Explain that the Christian church has not done a good job of helping its own people in untimely pregnancies, and often has treated pregnancy as a sin. Then, when they had nowhere to turn for help, and chose abortion, we issued a blanket judgment on everyone who has done that. Validate that the church has been complicit in numerous abortions because of this and that you want “Church Name” to change that.
- BE THE CHANGE:
- Talk about how damaging abortion is to the living victims of abortion. (Grab some info from the links in Parts 2.) You don’t have to make a sermon out of it, unless you want to. It could be an announcement.
- Talk about the need people who have lost children to abortion have to heal; that you want this congregation to walk with them through the healing, without judgement; and provide them with a confidential contact for info on an abortion healing Bible study. (Check with your local pregnancy center or find what you need in Part 2)
- Tell singles, young people, and parents that, from this point forward, you and your staff are a safe, confidential place to come for help, without judgment, in the case of unwed or complicated pregnancy. Your congregation will learn together how to walk through the challenges with them. (You don’t have to reinvent anything here. Pregnancy centers can provide many resources for you or train you how to provide them. They would be delighted to have you ask!)
Your local pregnancy center will also be delighted with your support for them, financially and with volunteers. It can be a symbiotic relationship in which everyone wins. The babies, the women, the men, and the entire church body; the pregnancy center, and its clients.
There are a lot more ways to proactively address abortion in the church that will take more preparation. But if you want to break the ice in a most loving manner, capitalize on the perfect opportunity. There is a lot more to unpack regarding abortion, but once you say the word in a redeeming way, it will just get easier.
Watch for future articles that will help you break down walls that delight Satan regarding abortion and build bridges that defeat him and his deadly agenda.
By Joni Williams Shepherd
Joni Williams Shepherd is the Executive Director of Hope and Grace International and author of two books that help equip the church to address abortion with hope and grace. To start the conversation, Memoirs of a Christian Who Chose Abortion gives perspective of a the journey of a fellow Christ-follower who lost two children to abortion and found redemption and healing through repentance and the grace of God. Why Can't We Say the "A" Word in Church? (Overcoming Our Dirtiest Secret with Hope and Grace) contains the stories from Memoirs in less detail, along with The Scenario of abortion and its ensuing trauma in the world and the church, The Dilemma the church faces in addressing abortion, and The Remedy for how to address abortion in the church comprehensively and with compassion.
- If you have lost a child to abortion, how can this article support you in talking with your pastor about your abortion and the trauma you have experienced?
- If you attend church, how can you use this article to broach the subject of abortion with your pastor or ministry leader and the need to break the silence in the church?
- If you are a pastor or ministry leader, how does this article better equip you to overcome your concerns about introducing the subject of abortion from the pulpit or in your area of ministry?
 Nehemiah 1:4-7