After 15 years in the pregnancy resource center/medical clinic ministry, not much that I hear surprises me. However, recently I spoke with a pregnancy resource executive director who made the statement that her biggest enemy was the church because they would not financially support her center. That statement captured my attention.
I had known this woman for several years, and I knew she didn't really feel as negative about the church as it seemed. The truth was she was tired of asking for money; she was tired of worrying every month about paying the rent and salaries; and she was physically exhausted. After listening to her talk for a while, I asked her two questions:
Can the organized church exist without the pregnancy resource center?
Can the pregnancy resource center exist without the local church?
The answer to both questions is obvious. As much as we may wish to think otherwise, the local church existed for nearly 2,000 years before the first pregnancy center was founded. The commission given to the church in Matthew 28:19-20 was: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
While many of the pregnancy center services complement and in some cases exceed the work of the church, the Scripture in Matthew clearly commands the church to make disciples, baptize new believers, and teach new believers to obey God's commands.
The answer to the second question is equally obvious. Without the volunteers, the prayers, and the resources of the local church, the pregnancy center ministry would cease to exist.
Then who benefits most in cultivating relationships with the other? Again, the answer is the pregnancy center. With that in mind, in the next few issues we will examine the following questions:
Does your center see the church as a funding resource or a long-term partner in ministry?
Does your center approach the church with an attitude of "Here's what we need you to do for us" rather than "Here's what we can do for you"?
Does your center take the time to research the church's priorities and needs and cultivate a two-way relationship before asking for support?
Does the church hear from your center only when you're promoting baby bottles, looking for volunteers, or inviting them to the next fundraiser?
How creative has your center been in mobilizing church members to be the voices of your center in their local church?
Does your center work hard to connect your clients with a local church, or do you try to meet all of your clients' spiritual needs "in house"?
By the end of this series, many of the questions to which you were honestly forced to answer "no" will be changed to "yes," and the time you invest in evaluating your center's relationship with your local churches will reap rewards both spiritually and financially.
Elaine Ham is Founder and National Trainer for Plans For You, Inc., a consulting company she founded in 2000 to train and assist pro-life organizations in raising funds for their ministries. The highly successful company has helped raise over $65,000,000 in operational funds for over 1,200 organizations in the past ten years. She can be reached at Elaine@plansforyou.org or by calling 770-401-5216. Elaine and her husband Tom live in the Atlanta area and have two children and two grandchildren.