In the previous three articles, we have looked at ways to approach, meet, and connect with the local churches. In our final installment, we will discuss ways to serve and to thank them.
Volunteer to be a "resource center" for the church. Many pastors and staff members are not aware of the free or reduced rate medical, legal, and physical needs services in the community that are available to the clients you serve. Keep a complete directory of community services and organizations, and suggest the church call you when they have families in the congregation with pregnancy-related needs.
OUR LOCAL CHURCHES SHOULD AND CAN BE OUR VERY BEST FRIENDS.
Meet with the youth pastor or youth group leaders and offer youth group/abstinence speakers.
Teach abortion recovery classes for women who have experienced abortion, or teach church leaders how to lead the classes. Stress the importance of privacy in the location and leadership of these classes.
Work with groups on projects for the center. Youth or children's workers often look for creative ways to involve their groups in the community, particularly during the summer. Invite them to the center on days it is closed to work on projects such as refurbishing baby bottles, washing windows, planting flowers, or cleaning the center/clinic. This provides great opportunities to show age-appropriate videos and educate them on abstinence while there.
Do center tours for church groups. As a center director, I frequently received calls from women's groups asking me to speak at their meetings. Instead, I would offer, and many would accept, invitations to bring their group to the center for refreshments and a tour of the center. That provided me the opportunity to tell stories, discuss each area of the center's services, and tell them ways groups like theirs helped meet the needs of the clients. One women's group offered to make blankets for all newborn babies; several did the baby bottle boomerang at their churches; some became church liaisons; and many came up with other creative ways their groups could help. One women's group redecorated a counseling room and provided great furnishings for the screened-in porch.
Start a week of prayer at your center. Select a specific church for you, your staff, and volunteers to pray for each week. Send a card or letter to the pastor telling him the dates you will be praying for him and his church and ask for specific prayer requests. Be faithful to have group prayer daily for the staff and church during their week of prayer. Ask the pastor to visit the center so you can pray specifically for him, and also ask him to pray for your center while he is there.
Stop at a supporting church office occasionally with a gift of cookies or snacks for the office staff. A local bakery provided a "giant-sized" chocolate cookie with the church's name on it at no cost when we called them a day ahead. You may have a bakery that will do the same for you with advance notice.
SUGGEST THE CHURCH CALL YOU WHEN THEY HAVE FAMILIES IN THE CONGREGATION WITH PREGNANCY-RELATED NEEDS.
Send an end-of-year report to your supporting churches. Give your center's statistics, especially salvation decisions and number of babies saved from abortion. Send a summary of income and expenses to show the churches how you have used the funds they gave throughout the year.
Finally, give visibility to supporting churches. Ask pastors to serve as board members. Have a supporting pastor pray at your banquet. Include a list of supporting churches in your newsletter. Don't hesitate to let them know when you need prayer. On one occasion when our center was very short of funds, I called several pastors to ask them to visit the center and pray for us. Several pastors responded, but one very supportive pastor came by, prayed for and with our staff and volunteers, and handed me a check for $500 to help meet our need.
Our local churches should and can be our very best friends. If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit we appreciate being thanked for what we do for others. Our pastors and church partners are no different. Get to know them; pray for them; help them any way we can; and trust God to meet our needs as He chooses.
"And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them." Luke 6:31
Elaine Ham is Founder and PRC Business Coach for Plans For You, Inc., a consulting company she and her husband Tom founded in 2000 to train and assist pro-life organizations. The highly successful company has helped raise over $65,000,000 in operational funds for over 1,300 organizations through their Baby Bottle Boomerang program. Elaine trains pregnancy centers in evangelism, fundraising, board management, and other areas tailored to fit your center's needs. Elaine is a Master Instructor with EvanTell/SMSC and a Life Affirming Specialist with Heartbeat International.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.