This past Sunday, Lead Pastor Mark tackled the topic of life, and abortion, in the message “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made”. Amongst the staff, there was a lot of wonder, concern and prayer about the service in the lead up to it.
On Wednesday mornings, I’m fortunate to be a part of Message Team meetings. I’ve been a part of them since I started my current Campus Pastor role. In these meetings, a team of us help Mark shape the big idea of the message. We provide research, information and some randomness. These meetings are educational for me, and they are a lot of fun.
A few weeks ago, when Message Team discussed “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made”, it was probably the most animated Message Team I had attended. Everyone in the meeting was in agreement the topic needed to be addressed, and supported the position of “life”. The passionate debate came about when discussing how to deliver the message. What points do you hammer? When do you show grace and mercy? Should we involve politics in the message? Are you compromising by not going strong with the message? What happens after?
Over the years, I have refined my thinking on the issue. I’ve become passionate about aspects of the issue, but not on things you might expect.
Here’s some of what I shared in the Message Team meeting. A number of these points were expressed by others in the meeting.
- I didn’t think politics needed to be involved in the message. I thought it would be an easy distraction for those in agreement, and disagreement, with the message. This should not be a time for pro-lifers to be cheerleaders in the message.
- Many who proclaim to be pro-life just do so with their words. Many want their (mainly GOP) politicians to deal with it so they don’t have to. They feel like simply voting for a politician, who says they are for life by hitting all the “talking points”, fulfills their pro-life responsibility. The church has failed here. It’s another area where it is shirking its responsibility and expecting the government to do it.
- The church’s actions say they are for life from conception to birth, but then it abandons families, single mothers, and children when the baby is born. It’s easy to protest, but a lot harder to be a support to individuals who are in need. It takes a real commitment, and we don’t show that. For example, look at foster care stats.
- It’s not that we shouldn’t be involved politically, but government and politicians aren’t the solution.
- How do we win the hearts and minds of people on such a contentious issue? By being Jesus to them and not just politicking.
- We need to show grace because there will be a lot of people in the audience that have been touched by this issue. We need to be ready to deal with that. How do we show love and forgiveness to those who have been carrying guilt/shame? What are the next steps for people?
Picking up on a theme with my remarks? I thought the big idea of the message, life, was self-explanatory, so focus in on that with the message. Don’t let anything that could be a distraction get in the way of the clear message from Psalm 139. I wanted there to be action for the church, and not just us patting ourselves on the back because we are “pro-life”.
Plus, we needed to be the church to those in the audience that have dealt with this issue directly. We needed to show them the love and forgiveness of Jesus. If stats hold true, 1 in 3 American women will have an abortion in her lifetime. For a church that has 3,300 in attendance on a Sunday, that’s a sizable portion of attenders. Not just women who have had an abortion, but parents or boyfriends/husbands that may have encouraged it as well.
Part of my passion comes from being convicted by my lack of action and response in the past. It wasn’t good enough to just vote for pro-life politicians. Especially when many of their soundbites rang hollow once they were voted into office. What was I doing to support “life”?
The opinions and perspective shared by others in the Message Team meeting were solid. It was healthy debate. Two points raised by others stuck with me. “How do we respond to those who say it is merciful to not bring a child into this world where they would experience darkness and violence due to their potential family environment?” And, the disaster of the Nebraska foster care system was brought up, and how this can happen in our state that leans pro-life?
There are a few gray areas, and a number of tough questions, that do come up with abortion. We wanted to respond to those inquiries, but we thought with a Sunday message it could be easy to get side-tracked by them. We wanted to highlight how God loves us all from the moment of conception. The big idea was about being fearfully and wonderfully made.
Mark had to sift through all the discourse, and information, and apply it to the message he was going to preach. We knew no matter how carefully crafted, and delivered, the message, there would be people leaving CCC over this. After hearing the message, I thought Mark did a masterful job in delivering it.
I was grateful to see Christ Community Church offer a number of tangible ways to respond to the message. CCC already was involved when it came to this issue, but I’m glad it will continue to be involved. Not just when the baby is in the womb, but also after the baby is born.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
–Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV)