(PRESS RELEASE) Care Net, a nonprofit ministry that supports one of the nation's largest network of pregnancy centers, has launched Making Life Disciples, a curriculum that will equip churches to minister to women and men considering abortion.
This first-of-its-kind program is designed to give churches the training and support they need to serve those in the church and the broader community who are facing unplanned, unexpected, or unexpectedly complicated pregnancies. The program was crafted out of Care Net's decades of experience supporting thousands of community-based pregnancy centers across North America. Making Life Disciples takes this knowledge and applies it to the unique needs of churches.
The program originated out of empirical and anecdotal evidence that churches are not proactively engaged in ministry around abortion, even though abortions are not uncommon in the church. National data, such as that produced by the Guttmacher Institute, suggests that 54% of women who have abortions identify themselves as Christians. Care Net's own research, released in November of 2015, found that 4 in 10 women were regularly attending church at the time of their abortion. (full report available at www.care-net.org/making-life-disciples-resources)
Given the frequency of abortion in the church and the lack of specific ministries or programs in the church to address this crisis, Care Net created Making Life Disciples.
"At Care Net, we believe that 'life decisions need life support,' and the church is the instrument God ordained to provide life support to women, men, and families to empower them to choose life for their unborn children and abundant life for their families," said Roland C. Warren, president and CEO of Care Net.
This is especially true in urban areas, where there are often high concentrations of abortions and abortion providers, but few pregnancy centers. Even though Care Net currently supports a network of over 1,100 affiliated pregnancy centers across North America, relatively few of these centers are in urban areas. However, there are 350,000 churches in the United States, including many in urban communities. Making Life Disciples will mobilize and equip these churches to become the only life-affirming entities in their communities addressing abortion.
Additionally, even in communities with pregnancy centers, Making Life Disciples will create a bridge between those centers - which are set up for short-term support - and local churches, which are designed to provide long-term discipleship.
Additionally, while pregnancy centers primarily reach women and men who are not regular church attenders, Making Life Disciples is designed to reach those inside the church who may be unable or unwilling to visit a local pregnancy center, but are still in need of help with their pregnancy decision. Through providing such help, the church can then act as a conduit to the local pregnancy centers, who can continue to provide unique services such as free ultrasounds.
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Dr. Tony Evans, Senior Pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, TX understands the unique role the church must play in ministering to abortion-minded women and men. "The pastor of a local church must somewhat view himself as a thermostat that sets the atmosphere and the temperature for how the church functions, particularly when it relates to people who are caught in circumstances such as unplanned pregnancies," Evans said in a video produced for the curriculum.
Making Life Disciples is a comprehensive, six-part DVD curriculum, supplemented by printed leaders' and participants' guides. The sessions - such as "Pregnancy: Facing the Unknown," "Connection, Communication, and Compassion," and "Life-Affirming Alternatives" - are delivered by seasoned professionals of the family strengthening and pregnancy center movements, such as Roland C. Warren, Linda Cochrane, Cynthia Wenz, Ryan Bomberger, Jeanneanne Maxon, and Eric Scalise, Ph.D.
Regarding the plan for the program, Mary Chapman, Care Net's Director of Church Outreach and Engagement, said, "Care Net will work through denominations, individual churches, ministry networks, and its network of pregnancy centers with the goal of equipping 1,000 churches with Making Life Disciples by 2020."
"Because this is an issue of life, and God is the author of life, then we must be in life-related issues. For us it's a priority and it should be a priority for any pastor concerned about comprehensive ministry," said Dr. Evans in another curriculum video.
Founded in 1975, Care Net supports one of the largest networks of pregnancy centers in North America and runs the nation's only real-time call center providing pregnancy decision coaching. Acknowledging that every human life begins at conception and is worthy of protection, Care Net offers compassion, hope, and help to anyone considering abortion by presenting them with realistic alternatives and Christ-centered support through its life-affirming network of pregnancy centers, organizations, and individuals. Learn more at www.care-net.org.