At the Battle Front in the Abortion Debate

A few weeks ago I volunteered to go down to our local version of Planned Parenthood to protest abortion.  Our purpose was to pray and stand against abortion in a public way.  I was a little nervous about this because sometimes these things can go wrong.  I was somewhat relieved to see that the police had arrived to deter any violent acts against us and protect our right to assemble and exercise free speech.  Later, I learned that the police were present to protect the clinic’s visitors and staff from us!

The pastor and I were the only ones from our church that day but there were a number of folks from the Catholic church present.  We were confined to the public sidewalk outside the clinic and had to stay  a certain number of feet away from the entrance.  The priest had a life size cut out picture of Mary like you see on those candles you can buy at the grocery store.  I wondered what people made of that since there really were no clues given about what it was supposed to mean.  For those without religion or knowledge of Catholicism it would have to appear very odd.  Our Catholic friends were sincere and gathered in small groups and prayed aloud in Spanish.  It was all done in a very ritualistic manner with the words being repeated over an over.  Instead of prayer, it sounded much like a mysterious incantation or spell from a Harry Potter movie.

For the most part the day was uneventful.  An occasional supporter would drive by and honk their horn but most people drove on and tried to ignore us.  One person walked by and said in a derisive tone, “Don’t you guys have anything better to do”?  The pastor had a quick response and said “There is nothing better we can do!”  Good one, I thought.  I also felt a little bad about it because it seemed to me that, on some level, he must have wanted to engage us.  I wished we could have talked to him on a more meaningful level and we missed that chance.

I am not sure we accomplished much aside from the invisible effects our prayers may have had.  I fear that our message may be overshadowed at times by our weirdness.

R.C. Sproul has given the best defense of the Christian point of view I have ever heard:

http://www.ligonier.org/blog/abortion-the-moral-issue-of-our-day/

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Church Growth and Church Splits

I know of two churches that are racked by divisions and their long term prospects appear dim because of debt and people leaving for other churches. For some the loss of their church has caused deep hurt and although God is sovereign in all things and can work out everything for good, that knowledge provides little comfort for those who suffer.

Nevertheless, churches that take in these refugees benefit from the misfortune of their struggling sisters.  Our church, for example, has seen increases in attendance and giving, we have reduced our debt, we broke ground on our new building addition, and we may be able to complete our project without incurring debt.  Fantastic.

Knowing the dark side of human nature, I remain cautious.  How strong could a church be, I wonder, if over half the members are there because they got hacked off at their old church?

In fairness, the people who have come to us from troubled churches know God and, from what I understand, have good reason to seek fellowship at our church. 

Still, these kind of things happen with surprising frequency and seems to be cyclical and predictable. Churches with big plans need both talent and cash. A savvy church board could time the launch their next big initiative to coincide with the next round of church splits. The trick, of course, is to not be one of those crumbling churches. Unfortunately, how that rick is mastered remains a mystery.