Author archives: Anna Longbons

Raising Up New Leaders: 3 Ways to Cultivate and Equip the Faith of Young People

by Anna Longbons

February 13, 2019

When Christians empower young Christian conservative leaders, they lay the foundations of the future. Every Christian parent wants their child to embrace the faith, and every conservative hopes the next generation will preserve and advance the cause of freedom. In America, however, nearly three out of five young people have walked away from the church, while atheism has doubled among teenagers. How can the church counteract this trend of young adult disengagement?

Instead of just trying to stop young people from leaving, the church can empower young people to start leading. If young people see the church as an outlet for their gifts and as a place of personal growth, their loyalty will deepen. Keeping young people in the pews is admirable, but equipping them for active service is transformational. Here are three ways to cultivate and equip the faith of young people:

1. Prayer

Firstly, church members can continually pray for the young people in their congregation, both those who attend and those who have recently gone to college or joined the workforce. By interceding for young people, church members can fight against the spiritual forces of darkness facing these young people, especially in today’s post-Christian culture. As believers pray, God offers guidance, paving the way for stronger relationships between church members and young Christians.

2. Mentoring

Relationships between older and younger Christians can bear significant fruit. In his book Cultivate: Forming the Emerging Generation Through Life-On-Life Mentoring, Dr. Jeff Myers explores the benefits of intentional, intergenerational relationships. He explains that mentors can rely on the six relational gestures of modeling, friendship, advising, coaching, teaching, and sponsoring. By inviting a young person to walk alongside them, a mentor models Christlike behavior and offers their mentee critical friendship and wisdom. As the mentee matures, the mentor can sponsor the mentee by furthering the mentee’s opportunities. These mentoring relationships help the mentee to realize that the church is relevant to their growth and invested in their success.

3. Apologetics Training

To promote lasting church loyalty, Christians can support young people through prayer and mentoring relationships. Apologetics training can also strengthen the next generation’s ties to the church. When young people learn the rational basis of their faith, and when they grasp the connections between the Bible and the issues facing our culture today, their confidence in Christianity grows and solidifies. Young people may perceive a disconnect between the church and the culture, but apologetics training bridges the gap. Christian organizations including Summit Ministries and Truth for a New Generation guide young people to understand and embrace the truth.

When a young Christian believes that their church accepts them and their faith matters, they are prepared to use the gifts God has given them in the service of the causes to which God has called them. Therefore, the church must be prepared to support the causes young Christians are passionate about. If a young Christian seeks to involve their church in the causes they care about—from alleviating poverty to abolishing sex trafficking to ending abortion—the church can offer their time, support, and encouragement. Promoting a young Christian’s endeavors not only furthers that specific cause, it furthers the young person’s leadership potential. Because they have grown in their faith and developed their leadership abilities through the church, young people will be far less likely to leave and far more likely to engage in positive leadership in future.

Prayer, mentoring relationships, and apologetics training all enable young people to grow in maturity and confidence. This confidence not only lays the foundations for continued church attendance, it produces proactive service and leadership that will benefit the church for decades to come.

Anna Longbons is an intern with FRC Action.

4 Ways Pro-Life Conversations Strengthen the Pro-Life Movement

by Anna Longbons

January 31, 2019

Pro-life individuals have a responsibility to communicate the pro-life message. Through civic participation, many pro-lifers put their beliefs into action, campaigning and voting for pro-life politicians and holding elected officials accountable for their positions on pro-life issues. However, when it comes to discussing pro-life issues with their friends and acquaintances, many pro-lifers hesitate.

On the one hand, because many conservatives ascribe to the pro-life position, pro-lifers may not see the need for intentional pro-life conversations with their conservative friends. Conversely, since abortion is a sensitive and often political issue, pro-lifers may avoid discussing it because they are unsure of an appropriate way to introduce the topic. By starting a conversation around pro-life issues, a pro-lifer risks an exchange that could be at best “preaching to the choir,” and at worst painful and alienating.

Although the risks of such conversations are real, pro-lifers must remember the great need for truth in America today. People who call themselves “pro-life” often do not know why they are pro-life, or what being pro-life even means. The Barna Group found that 59 percent of Mainline Protestant church leaders have never talked about the pro-life cause from the pulpit or mentioned it in a sermon. Engaging professed pro-lifers in conversation allows strong pro-lifers to share the reality of abortion and our opportunity to advocate for life in America.

Pro-lifers have several options available for beginning a pro-life conversation:

1. Inviting nominal pro-lifers to join pro-life initiatives can bolster their weaker pro-life convictions.

When nominal pro-lifers attend a pro-life conference, pray outside an abortion facility, or tour a Pregnancy Resource Center, they come face to face with the pro-life movement. Pro-lifers can enlist the support of friends and church members by asking them to volunteer at a Pregnancy Resource Center or attend a pro-life fundraiser. As these individuals become part of the pro-life movement, their eyes will be opened and their commitment strengthened.

Nominal pro-lifers also may not fully comprehend abortion, but they may have been personally impacted by it. Because abortion has been legal in America for 46 years, millions of Americans have been affected over the decades. People have lost siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends’ children. Talking about abortion allows these individuals to understand and process what happened to their family and friends.

2. Talking about pro-life issues can bring healing.

Abortion has impacted other individuals even more directly. Millions of American parents have lost their children to abortion. By bringing up pro-life issues, pro-lifers can point these parents to programs and resources for healing. Many local Pregnancy Resource Centers host post-abortive support groups, and organizations like Rachel’s Vineyard and Silent No More exist to come alongside post-abortive parents.

While such conversations open the door to healing from past abortion, they can also prevent future abortions. Josh Brahm from Equal Rights Institute observes that many women do not realize the support that is available to them if they become pregnant unexpectedly. By discussing pro-life issues, pro-lifers can ensure that their friends know about the alternatives to abortion and the support that is available to expectant parents.  

3. Asking questions can lead to changed minds.

Entering into a conversation about abortion allows pro-lifers to reach uniformed friends and acquaintances with the truth. Nonetheless, while some people are simply ignorant about abortion, others are hostile to the pro-life movement. Instead of replying with similar anger, pro-lifers can ask their pro-abortion friends why they are pro-abortion. Verbalizing their views forces pro-abortion individuals to consider the implications of their views.

4. Pro-lifers can also bring the message of life to their churches.

CareNet reported that 36 percent of women were attending a Christian church once a month or more at the time of their first abortion. David Bereit from 40 Days for Life reveals that post-abortive women can endure pain when they do not hear abortion addressed in their churches. Churches have an amazing opportunity to share the importance of life and forgiveness, encouraging expectant mothers not to abort and offering healing to those who have lost children to abortion.

Christians can involve their churches in a variety of ways, from coordinating activities for Sanctity of Life Sunday to recruiting church members to volunteer at Pregnancy Resource Centers. By asking church leaders for permission to pursue pro-life activities in their churches, pro-life members remind pastors of the importance of the pro-life message and support church leaders in spreading this message.

Don’t be afraid to reach out.

Engaging these four strategies in the pro-life movement will help to build a culture of life. Those who previously paid lip service to the pro-life movement will realize the tragedy of abortion and the sacredness of life, while those hurt by abortion will understand that healing is possible. Women who might consider abortion will learn about the pro-life resources available to them. Additionally, those who hold pro-abortion views will be prompted to reconsider their positions. Reaching out to friends with the pro-life message may be a leap of faith for pro-lifers, but through their faithfulness, our culture will experience the truth and healing of the pro-life message.

Anna Longbons is an intern at FRC Action.

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Elections Have Consequences
by Worth Loving (Feb. 15, 2019)

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