The 180 Conference, and Prolife Issues as a Platform to Reach People for Christ
Update: as of June, the conference planners had to make the decision to cancel the 180 Conference.
I’ve mentioned in a past blog my respect for Ray Comfort and his excellent 180 Movie. This fall, I’ll be speaking at the 180 National Conference taking place on October 20, 2012 at Calvary Chapel in San Diego, CA. The whole purpose of this conference is to equip believers to stand up for life.
Ray and his team have done a great job putting it together and have lined up several prolife speakers, including Pam Tebow (Tim Tebow’s mother), Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, Sean McDowell, and more. I’m looking forward to hearing all of them, including Ray himself as he shares about engaging the culture. (Check out the full list of speakers and topics.)
I especially love the conference’s emphasis on teaching Christians how to effectively share the gospel of Jesus Christ when engaging people in conversation about abortion, since over the years I’ve frequently been told that life issues are not what the church of Jesus Christ is to be about. A seminary student at my church told me something I’ve often heard in one form or another: “Issues like abortion are just a distraction from the main thing.”
“What’s the main thing?” I asked.
“The Great Commission,” he said. “Winning people to Christ. That’s what we’re supposed to do. Everything else is a distraction.”
There are three perspectives we need to consider in order to understand the relationship between prolife efforts and the Great Commission. First, the Great Commission is a central command, but Jesus labeled another command the greatest. The Great Commission is really just an extension of the command to love God and our neighbors.
Second, even if all there was to the Great Commission was evangelism, standing up for those whose lives are endangered would qualify because it opens significant doors for evangelism.
Nothing opens doors for evangelism like need-meeting ministries. Students who do a speech on abortion have follow-up conversations that can lead to sharing the gospel. Those who work at pregnancy centers have great opportunities to share Christ, as do those who pass out literature at abortion clinics and go on campuses to educate about abortion. People who open their homes to pregnant women demonstrate a love which leads to sharing the gospel. Whenever we meet people’s needs, evangelism becomes both natural and credible.
Third, in His Great Commission, Jesus didn’t tell us only to evangelize. He told us to be “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). He didn’t just say teaching them to believe; He said teaching them to obey.
Jesus commands us to have compassion and to take sacrificial action for the weak and needy. So that’s part of “everything I have commanded you.” And if we fail to obey that part, and fail to teach others to obey it, we are not fulfilling the Great Commission. If the church doesn’t intervene for unborn children and their mothers, and if we don’t teach our people to help them, then we fail to fulfill the Great Commission.