As the pregnancy help community, we often debate “How pro-life should we be in our advertising?” At the same time, we also ask about how to present our faith on our websites, on our storefronts and in our waiting rooms.
Recent articles on Pregnancy Help News regarding PHO web sites and rebranding highlight this ongoing conversation and, in my mind, challenge us to find biblically based solutions. We must have this conversation; the lives of moms, dads and children depend on it.
Here is where we in pregnancy help centers and medical clinics agree: We all want to reach more women and men who are considering ending their pregnancies through abortion. With that common ground, all of us also agree that we must ask the question, “How do we best accomplish that goal?”
Not to be irreverent in any way, but would you allow me to introduce the best marketing expert in history? Jesus.
Using his example with the woman at the well in John 4:7 and following, we see an amazing example of how to draw in the wary and the cynical—precisely who we need to reach.
Tweet This: Jesus was an amazing example of drawing in the wary and the cynical. @KirkWalden
When Jesus approached this woman of Samaria, his first words were “Give me a drink.” She was surprised that a Jew would even speak to a Samaritan, so a conversation regarding religious views ensued. Ultimately, over time Jesus introduced himself as the Messiah—but only after the woman brings up the idea in John 4:25.
My point? Jesus did not begin this encounter with, “I am the Messiah. I am the Son of God. I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Again, this is not an attempt to be irreverent, but to give us perspective. The Samaritan Woman would have likely run if Jesus had been so blunt, so quickly.
Why? Because Samaritans were wary of Jews (who looked down on Samaritans), and Jesus had to build trust first. We must do the same.
Our potential clients are wary of anything that says “pro-life” because most of what they see online and in the media tells them that pro-life is synonymous with “anti-woman” and “extreme.” We are portrayed as people with hidden agendas who pressure others; as intolerant.
It is a wrong perception, but it is a real one. Because of this misperception however, the more “pro-life” we are in our marketing materials, the more we drive away those who need us most.
Tweet This: The more #prolife we are in our marketing, the more we drive away those who need us most. @KirkWalden
Our faith component carries the same baggage, as was the case with Jesus. Many of our potential clients see “Christian” as “intolerant” and “judgmental.” Is this true? Hardly. But we must deal with these perceptions in our marketing, in our lobbies and throughout our early connections with those we see . . . until trust is built.
Once our patients and clients see who we are and find we are their safe place, the doors will swing open for conversations on faith—just as happened with Jesus and the woman at the well.
Our conversation with patients and clients then, begins with our marketing approach. If we say, “We are a pro-life ministry,” we face the same wariness Jesus would have encountered if he blurted out “I am the Christ!” the moment he met the Samaritan woman.
Was Jesus, by holding back certain information, somehow deceptive in his approach? Not at all. In fact, “Wise” is the operative word here. With the woman at the well, Jesus no doubt surprised her by saying anything to her, thus treating her as an equal. But Jesus knew that too much, too soon, would scare her away.
Our PHOs must be just as wise. Drawing in potential clients by recognizing their wariness and finding safe ground from which to further connect is not only good marketing, it is biblical, too.
As we consider how to best reach those who need us, let’s use the woman at the well as one of our starting points.
From there, we will find effective answers.
Kirk Walden is Senior Writer for Pregnancy Help News and author of The Wall: Rebuilding a culture of life in America and ending Abortion as we know it.