Month: January 2022

Study: Men play significant role in decisions surrounding unplanned pregnancies

NASHVILLE (BP) – While much of the discussion surrounding abortion focuses on women, unplanned pregnancies involve both a man and a woman. And the men involved have complicated feelings on the subject.

A new Care Net study conducted by Nashville-based Lifeway Research surveyed 1,000 American men whose partners had an abortion after he made her pregnant and who knew about the pregnancy prior to the abortion.

The study reveals men with pregnant partners play a significant role in the decision to have an abortion but may not be aware of how much influence they have.

“In 2015, when we surveyed women who had an abortion, they indicated men were the most influential factor in their decision,” said Roland Warren, president and CEO of Care Net. “Care Net recognized that despite this influence, the role of men had not yet been explored. This new study directly examines their feelings and experiences when the decision to have an abortion was made.”

Behind the decision

Initially, the men were conflicted about the pregnancy. When asked about their emotions when they found out their partner was pregnant, around half (53 percent) say they were nervous, and 42 percent were scared. Still, 30 percent were happy about the pregnancy, and 28 percent were excited. Far fewer say they were indifferent (15 percent), embarrassed (14 percent) or angry (14 percent).

In making their decision, 42 percent of men whose partners had an abortion say they encouraged the woman to do so, with 12 percent saying they strongly urged her to do so. Around 3 in 10 (31 percent) say they didn’t give any advice. More than 1 in 4 (27 percent) say they advised their partner not to have an abortion, including 8 percent who strongly urged her not to go through with it.

Among those who encouraged their partner to have an abortion, men say finances played the primary role, but other factors contributed to their wanting their partner to have an abortion. Almost half (46 percent) say they and their partner couldn’t afford a child at that time, while 29 percent say there were already enough kids in the picture.

Around a quarter of men who advocated for an abortion point to relationship issues between them and their partner, as 24 percent say they didn’t expect the relationship to be long-term, and 23 percent say there was conflict in the relationship.

Other reasons are focused more directly on the concerns of the man. Almost 2 in 5 (39 percent) say they were not ready to be a father, 17 percent say they hadn’t completed their education, 17 percent say they didn’t want others to know she was pregnant and 14 percent didn’t want to pay child support.

“Many abortions occur because men are urging their partner to terminate the pregnancy,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “However, around 3 in 10 men give their partners no advice even in situations where she discusses the decision with him.”

Most of the time, the pregnancy and subsequent abortion happened in the context of a serious relationship. A third of men (34 percent) say they were married at the time of their partner’s abortion, while another 29 percent were living together. An additional 29 percent say they were “seeing each other.” Few say they knew each other but were not dating (3 percent), had just met (2 percent) or were no longer together at the time of the abortion (3 percent).

When asked what roles they believe most people they know expect men and women to play in abortion decisions, 2 in 3 men whose partners had an abortion say the expectation is that the decision belongs to the woman, including 21 percent who say it is the woman’s choice and the man has no role to play and 46 percent who say it is the woman’s choice but the man should have some input. Around 3 in 10 (29 percent) say people expect it to be a choice the two should make together with equal input. Few (3 percent) say the expectation is the decision should primarily or exclusively be the man’s.

When asked what expectations they believe society places on them in a discussion surrounding unplanned pregnancies, 40 percent of men whose partners had an abortion say they believe others would want them neither to encourage nor discourage the woman’s decision in any way. Around a third (32 percent) believe society thinks the man should encourage the woman to have the baby. Fewer (14 percent) say others believe the man should encourage the woman to abort. And 14 percent are not sure what society thinks.

Abortion discussions

According to the men involved, they were most likely to be the one with whom their partners discussed having an abortion. Around 3 in 4 men (74 percent) say their partners talked with them about the decision before getting an abortion. Close to half (48 percent) say their partners talked with a medical professional. Some men also say the woman spoke to her mother (38 percent), a friend or friends (33 percent), her father (17 percent), an abortion provider (17 percent) or another family member (13 percent). Few men believe their partner spoke with someone at a pregnancy care center (7 percent), a counselor (5 percent) or someone at a local church (3 percent).

Men are most likely to say they were the most influential person in their partner’s decision to have an abortion. Close to 4 in 10 men (38 percent) say they had the most influence. Fewer point to a medical professional (18 percent), the woman’s mother (14 percent), her friends (7 percent), an abortion provider (4 percent), her father (3 percent) or another family member (2 percent).

The men involved are less likely to say they spoke about the decision to have an abortion with others. More than 2 in 5 (43 percent) say they discussed it only with their partner. Fewer than 3 in 10 say they had conversations with a medical professional (29 percent), a friend or friends (29 percent) or their mothers (27 percent). Even fewer say they spoke with their father (17 percent), another family member (11 percent), someone at church (5 percent), a counselor (5 percent) or someone at a pregnancy care center (5 percent).

“Nobody can deny that men have significant influence in many abortion decisions,” Warren said. “Both women and men who have faced an unplanned pregnancy say the man is consulted in the majority of cases and is most frequently cited as having the most influence.”

At the time of the abortion, most men (54 percent) say they knew of local pregnancy centers that offer help, but 2 in 5 were not aware of such places.

Church connections and disconnects

While few men say they or their partner spoke with someone at church during their discussions about abortion, half of men (51 percent) say they were attending a Christian church once a month or more at the time of at least one of their partner’s abortions. Even more (66 percent) say they currently attend religious services at least monthly.

More than 2 in 3 men whose partners have had an abortion (68 percent) identify as a Christian, including 36 percent Catholic, 17 percent Protestant, 10 percent nondenominational and 5 percent Orthodox. Around a quarter (24 percent) are religiously unaffiliated, with 10 percent giving no religious preference, 7 percent atheist and 6 percent agnostic. Fewer men whose partners have had an abortion say they are Jewish (2 percent) or Muslim (2 percent). When asked specifically if they are an evangelical or born-again Christian, 46 percent of men say yes, while 52 percent say no.

Despite their religious identify and church attendance, almost half of men (45 percent) whose partners have had an abortion and who attend at least monthly say no one at their church knows about the abortion. Slightly more (48 percent) say someone is aware.

Additionally, only 36 percent of men whose partners have had an abortion would recommend someone discuss an unplanned pregnancy with someone at a local church. Half (49 percent) would not.

Almost 2 in 3 men (64 percent) believe one can talk with a pastor about abortion confidentially, but few expect to receive an encouraging response from the church or pastor if they do.

As men thought about the time of their partner’s abortion, they expected to receive a critical reaction from a local church. More men say they expected churches to be judgmental (42 percent), condemning (30 percent), cold (24 percent) or indifferent (12 percent), compared to helpful (24 percent), caring (23 percent), informative (19 percent) or loving (18 percent). Men who were actually attending church once a month or more at the time of the abortion, however, are less likely than those who were attending less frequently to say the church would respond critically.

“Fear of shame and condemnation appears to be deterring Christians from talking about their unplanned pregnancies with others in the church—those they would otherwise trust as sources of hope and help,” said Warren. “Specifically, some Christian men seem more afraid of how an unplanned pregnancy coming to light could damage their reputation than they’re concerned about the ramifications of an abortion. This should be a challenge to church leaders to change the way they handle and respond to unplanned pregnancies.”

Men whose partners have had an abortion have conflicted and divided thoughts about how people in their situation will be received in church and how forgiveness may apply to them. A 2015 Care Net study conducted by Lifeway Research among women who had abortions found some shared perspectives on the attitudes of churches and pastors but more areas of disagreement between women and men.

Almost 3 in 4 men (72 percent) believe church members judge unmarried couples who are pregnant, yet 62 percent agree churches are prepared to provide support to couples who choose to keep a child resulting from an unplanned pregnancy.

Most men (57 percent) say churches oversimplify decisions about pregnancy options, but 52 percent say churches are a safe place to talk about the ways in which they could respond to the pregnancy, including parenting, abortion and adoption.

Most (54 percent) believe that pastors’ teachings on forgiveness don’t seem to apply to abortion, yet 51 percent say pastors teach God is willing to forgive past abortion decisions.

Overall, 53 percent believe that pastors are sensitive to the pressures a man faces with an unplanned pregnancy.

In the 2015 study of women, also sponsored by Care Net, slightly fewer women said pastors’ teachings on forgiveness don’t seem to apply to abortion (51 percent), and a similar share said churches oversimplify decisions about pregnancy options (54 percent).

Women who have had abortions are significantly less likely than men whose partners have had abortions to say churches are prepared to provide support for a child resulting from unplanned pregnancy (51 percent), pastors teach God is willing to forgive past abortion decisions (42 percent), churches are sensitive to the pressures of people in their situation (39 percent) and churches are safe places to discuss pregnancy options (38 percent). They are also less likely, however, to say churches judge someone who is unmarried and pregnant (65 percent).

“There are mixed feelings even among churchgoers on how helpful churches are in decisions about unplanned pregnancies,” McConnell said. “While many men recognize sensitivity and support, fewer are currently willing to recommend others turn to a church when facing an unplanned pregnancy.”

For more information, view the complete report and the white paper or visit and

Hope rising from the ashes through SBTC DR work in Colorado

SBTC DR Colorado fires

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo.—Hope arises from the ashes, as volunteers with Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief are proving in Colorado.

SBTC DR crews hurried to the Rocky Mountain State to assist survivors following the 6,025-acre Marshall Fire, which destroyed hundreds of homes near Boulder from Dec. 30 to early January. Texas crews worked alongside Baptist DR volunteers from the Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Kansas-Nebraska, and Colorado conventions at communities in southeastern Boulder County.

Two SBTC DR bunkhouses transported quickly north at the request of Colorado DR are housing workers at operations based at Boulder’s Reclamation Church.

Recovery teams from Bonham and Bellville arrived in mid-January and set to work immediately. Their job? To sift through the ashes and help homeowners discover valuables spared by the inferno. Teams also offer spiritual support, praying with survivors.

Sifting through ashes can be a seemingly fruitless task

“Seldom do we find what they think is of value,” Bellville team leader Mike Phillips told the Texan.

But sometimes they do.

Baby Jesus in the ashes

Chaplain Pat Merrell of Childress described meeting Melissa and Mark, two Louisville, Colo., homeowners helped by the Bonham crew.

Merrell, who had deployed as a chaplain with the Bellville unit, was called to the Bonham crew’s site when team leader Monte Furrh realized the homeowner could use a sympathetic ear.

“When I walked up the sidewalk, [Melissa] looked up and a big smile came,” Merrell recalled. “She was so excited to see me.”

Melissa asked Merrell to “excuse” her for not getting up, pointing to her foot and its cast wrapped in a protective plastic bag. She had broken the foot after the fire. Merrell pulled up a chair and the two women visited.

Melissa said she had grown up in a Christian home in Maine but admitted to drifting away after moving to Colorado, Merrell said. As they were talking, DR volunteers uncovered a treasure the homeowners thought lost forever: the family’s manger set.

Tears of joy streamed down Melissa’s face after she spotted the manger’s intact baby Jesus.

“I just wanted to show you baby Jesus,” Melissa told Merrell, cupping the ceramic piece in her hands while Merrell snapped a photo for her.

That recovered emblem led to greater conversations about the Jesus who is always with us, Merrell said.

“He went through the fire just like you have. He has led you out and he is always with you,” Merrell told Melissa. After work was finished at their place, Melissa and Mark joined in prayer with the SBTC DR team, who presented them with a Bible. At Melissa’s request, they all sang “Amazing Grace” before praying.

“People are receptive to what we are doing up here,” Phillips said. “I believe we are planting seeds. When we have a chance, we let them know why we are doing this: that we love the Lord. They are surprised and sometimes relieved that we are willing to talk about God.”

More found treasures

Another manger scene was among the lost valuables recovered by Bellville volunteers on January 21 as they continued work near the town of Superior.

The Bellville team had split into two crews who worked at neighboring houses. The recovery of a platinum wedding band encouraged one homeowner, but his neighbor, Carrie, was even more thrilled when volunteers uncovered an irreplaceable nativity set that had been made by her grandmother.

Bellville SBTC DR Colorado
The SBTC DR team from Bellville is seen with the homeowners at one of the work sites. Submitted Photo

Volunteer Brian Batchelder of Abilene said they were sifting for other items when they held up a piece of pottery that turned out to be part of the manger set.

“She was so elated, and we were elated,” crew leader Phillips said. “It gave us energy to keep going.”

As the volunteers finished work, the group gathered with the homeowners to give them a Bible and to pray.

“Can I pray for you all?” Carrie asked.

“We don’t get that very often,” Phillips mused. “She prayed us out of there.”

Wet snow swirled about volunteers on January 21, but even so it was a very good day, Phillips indicated. Homeowners who had lost almost everything and the volunteers who came to help were reminded once more about what really matters … and how hope can rise from ashes.

“Jesus used the teams to give homeowners hope,” Merrell said after the Bellville crew started back to Texas on Jan. 23.

For information on becoming a credentialed volunteer, visit

Legendary pulpit to be used during SBC Pastors’ Conference

Bellevue Pulpit

On any given Sunday, pastors stand behind large pulpits, small pulpits, pub tables, or music stands. Many of those pulpits, though, have a history.

I remember the first time I laid eyes on the pulpit at Mayhill Baptist Church, a small church in the mountains of New Mexico. I saw the worn edges, the scrapes from years of use, and realized I would stand behind a beautiful piece of craftsmanship with a long history.

That moved me deeply. Week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade, that lil’ pulpit was the launching pad for countless sermons. And there I stood, behind that worn pulpit to proclaim the word, joining a long line of faithful pastors before me.

As we planned for and dreamed about the SBC Pastors’ Conference (June 12-13, Anaheim, Calif.) and our commitment to expository preaching, I knew the pulpit we used was not everything, but it sure was something. After a lot of prayers, I shot my shot. I reached out to Dr. Steve Gaines to ask about the “Bellevue Pulpit,” and Dr. Gaines and Bellevue Baptist in Memphis generously and graciously agreed to loan it to us for the conference.

Sure, most of us know Dr. Gaines used it after taking the helm from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, both faithful expositors and past Presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention, but I also learned it was used by Dr. R.G. Lee and Dr. Ramsey Pollard, who were faithful expositors and past presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention.

From the early 1950s to just a few years ago, the “Bellevue Pulpit” was the launching pad for countless sermons that proclaimed the excellencies of Christ and the good news of Jesus. We are thankful for Bellevue Baptist’s generosity and willingness to allow us to add another page of history to their pulpit, and are excited for our preachers to stand behind it to proclaim the Word once again.

NAMB, IMB, Guidestone join as partners

We are excited to announce that North American Mission Board, International Mission Board, and Guidestone have linked arms with us as gold-level sponsors. They join our platinum-level sponsor, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and folks like Samaritan’s Purse and Maranatha Tours as our key sponsors. A few more organizations or entities are finalizing their plan to partner, too, and we are so thankful, not only for their generosity but for believing in our vision.

Similarly, conventions like Kentucky Baptist Convention, Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, churches like First Baptist Orlando, Summer Grove Baptist, North Jacksonville Baptist, Greater Hills Baptist, and several individuals have given anywhere between $2 to $30,000. Like our own churches and our churches’ partnerships with the Cooperative Program, it is difficult to survive and thrive without faithful giving across the board––big tithers, small tithers; big churches, small churches––all combine to move the mission forward.

And so it is with the Pastors’ Conference. We cannot do it without key sponsors and significant gifts, but we also cannot do it without a large group of generous people, churches, and entities that simply believe in our vision. So, once again, I am asking for your help. Whether you can give a few dollars or a few hundred, every penny donated will help us put on a great Pastors’ Conference in Anaheim. Please prayerfully consider partnering with us, and click here.

Pastors’ Conference site re-launch coming soon

We have steadily increased our footprint on social media and are about to re-launch our website with the theme for the SBC Pastors’ Conference. On Twitter and Facebook, we continue to highlight encouraging articles, seek prayer requests, and inspire pastors in the hard work of ministry. Make sure you follow us on Twitter and Facebook but stay tuned to and you may end up being the first to see the unveiling of our conference theme!

Rockdale panel discusses pro-life issues on Sanctity of Life Sunday

Meadowbrook Rockdale Sanctity of Life

ROCKDALE—On January 16, Meadowbrook Baptist Church in Rockdale hosted a panel discussion titled, “The Local Church and the Pro-Life Movement.”

The panel’s date coincided with Sanctity of Human Life Sunday on the Southern Baptist Convention calendar. This emphasis Sunday each year falls near the January 22 anniversary of the infamous U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, that has been applied to legalize abortion for nearly any reason.

Panelists were Abby Johnson, nationally known pro-life advocate and founder of Love Line, a ministry for single parents needing support in raising young children; Nathan Lorick, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention; Pam Nolan, director of Place of Hope, a pregnancy resource center in Rockdale; and Joe Pojman, executive director of the Texas Alliance for Life. The discussion was moderated by the church’s youth pastor, Collin Breakhouse. Meadowbrook’s pastor, Stephen Ammons, organized the event but was unable to attend while recovering from COVID-19.

Many questions the panel discussed were submitted by the live audience attending the event.

A church’s role in the pro-life movement

Local churches of any size can help by doing some things and avoiding others, panelists agreed.

Johnson cited complacency, the idea that somebody else will do it, as a big problem. “The Bible is pretty clear what God expects of us while we’re on this earth—to stand for the ‘least of these,’” she said, adding, “When we are complacent, we are guilty.”

More than one panelist was concerned about judgmental attitudes that drive women to abortion clinics for support. “The longer people walk with Christ the more they forget what it’s like to not [walk with him]. We expect people to come in the door righteous and whole. At that point we become sinful and self-righteous. Christ is pursuing them—why shouldn’t we be pursuing them? Follow the life of Christ and the people he touched. You’ll find hurting, dirty, broken people. The people he confronted were self-righteous and sinful,” Lorick said.

“It’s about life,” he continued. “The church may have the intention to help young women in need, but they don’t know how to help, or we don’t want to have to deal with controversial issues. But brokenness is brokenness; the church has to be prepared to help when a young lady walks in with a need.”

Churches can keep up with pro-life events like the January 22 Rally for Life at the capitol in Austin by using the internet, Pojman suggested, adding, “Check the websites of pro-life organizations around the state.”

Nolan recommended that her church and community “come and see what God has done through Place of Hope. You’ll see the needs. Come and pray for us at a board meeting. Help us with other kinds of support.” She related a case at the center where a mother pressured her daughter to have an abortion because the mother had had one as well, but that Place of Hope’s prayer chain was deployed and the girl ultimately chose life for her baby.

After Roe v. Wade, or not

The audience was very interested in recent talk about the possible overturn of Roe v. Wade during the current U.S. Supreme Court session, but panelists cautioned that even this wouldn’t be the end of the struggle.

“We are getting on average 20 calls a day since the Texas heartbeat bill went into effect” from women currently unable to get an abortion, Johnson said. “If there are 350 PRCs (pregnancy resource centers) in Texas, all are likely seeing a growing demand for help.” Pointing out that about half of the states could outlaw abortion after an overturn of Roe v. Wade, she added, “That’s when our work starts.”

Pojman is cautiously optimistic about an overturn of Roe, speculating that the Court has already decided what to do with Roe but likely won’t announce anything until the end of this session in late June. Depending on the outcome, so-called “trigger bills” can go into effect.

“Texas has passed a bill, the Human Life Protection Act, that protects babies from the point of conception, but it won’t go into effect until Roe is overturned,” he said. “It will be up to church-based ministries to take care of women who no longer have the option of going to Dallas and Austin for an abortion.”

He then noted a couple of advantages Texas has as a pro-life state, referring to $100 million the state has allocated to help mothers for the first three years after the birth of their children.

“This governor [Greg Abbott] is committed to life, to adoption. His daughter is adopted out of a church-based adoption center,” Pojman said.

He also responded to a question regarding a response if Roe is not overturned. “My hopes have been dashed many times,” he said. “But we continue to make progress. We’ll keep working. We’re not going anywhere. But I think we’ll get something from SCOTUS that is a step in the right direction.”

Johnson, who worked for an abortion clinic before becoming a Christian, was asked about the people who would be put out of work if abortion was illegal in Texas. “Telling them about the love of God is the first thing I do,” she said. “I want them to leave the abortion industry, but I want them to do it because God loves them. I want to tell them, ‘God has something better for you!’”

Why we care

The question of why pro-life work should be important for churches and believers prompted a clear response from Lorick, who said, “It matters to God! It is the gospel at work, with feet. If the church is not going to do the things that capture the heart of God, what are we here for?

“The key is to find a step where we can be involved in a PRC or make a donation or advocate for pro-life laws—we can pray. Start small,” he suggested. “Delayed obedience is disobedience. When God puts it in your heart, he’s going to provide an opportunity. When we all take that next step, we become a pretty big army.”

SEMANA DE ORACIÓN: Las iglesias se conectan con la tarea misionera

El misionero de la IMB, Tim Louderback, (en el centro) y su colaborador local, Daniel Tejada, (a la izquierda, con camisa naranja) junto a estudiantes de la Universidad de Panamá.

In English

Nota de la editora: La IMB se compromete a que los hispanos se movilicen a nivel mundial para compartir el evangelio. ¿Puedes orar para unirte a nosotros? Comunícate con Oscar Tortolero, movilizador estratégico hispano, para obtener más información enviando un correo a

Tim y Tina Louderback, y Sean y Shelley Blacksten se dedican con pasión a capacitar y conectar a las iglesias con oportunidades para servir en Centroamérica y el Caribe. Los misioneros Louderbacks y Blackstens sirven con la Junta de Misiones Internacionales en Panamá, y los Louderbacks dirigen el programa Americas Connect

El programa “Americas Connect” se creó para brindar oportunidades de ministerio de nivel básico a las iglesias bautistas del sur interesadas en colaborar estratégicamente con la IMB.

Panamá fue el país pionero de este programa, que después se extendió a Guatemala, Costa Rica y Brasil.

Los miembros de la iglesia reciben una capacitación en línea por cinco o seis semanas antes de su viaje.

La misionera Tina dice que esta capacitación es modular y cubre la misiología básica y la formación específica para cada país. Una vez que los equipos llegan, reciben capacitación relacionada con la tarea misionera y su misión específica.

El misionero Sean dice que los equipos los han animado, “especialmente quienes forman parte del primer viaje al extranjero de su iglesia”.

Y también indica que: “Se requiere valor y obediencia para ser la punta de lanza de una iglesia que hasta ahora no se ha involucrado personalmente en el campo misionero”.

Nuestra oración es que sean los primeros de muchos que vendrán con nosotros, y que decidan aprovechar su experiencia en Centroamérica, y orar por un lugar aún más remoto la próxima vez”.

Un grupo de voluntarios se unió a un equipo indígena que ejerce su ministerio entre una etnia no alcanzada. La iglesia servía haciendo caminatas de oración, compartiendo el evangelio y dando clases de inglés a los indígenas cristianos que obtienen su sustento del turismo ecológico en la selva.

Los misioneros Louderbacks animan a las iglesias a poner en práctica lo que aprenden en el campo misionero cuando regresen a EE. UU.

El misionero Tim dice: “Reciben capacitación por adelantado. Ponen en marcha la tarea misionera mientras están en el campo. Hacen una evaluación y se van con la visión de ir a servir a su país o a cualquier lugar del mundo al que Dios los guíe”.

Algunas iglesias, tras regresar de su viaje, han empezado a participar o a impartir cursos de inglés como segunda lengua para alcanzar a sus comunidades.

Los misioneros Louderbacks animan a las iglesias que han participado en “Americas Connect” a adoptar una etnia no alcanzada.

La iglesia bautista Emmanuel de Weatherford, Texas, es una de las que más se ha comprometido a esto. La iglesia vino en un viaje de “Americas Connect” a Panamá en el 2019.

Michael Bizzell, pastor de admisiones y misiones en esta iglesia, dijo que el deseo de involucrarse a un nivel más profundo, los llevó a la formar una alianza con la Convención Bautista de Bolivia para ministrar en una etnia no alcanzada.

Después del viaje con “Americas Connect”, el Señor llamó a una pareja de la iglesia a servir con la IMB como misioneros profesionales.

Oremos por los progresos de los creyentes locales que están alcanzando a los no creyentes.

Oremos porque las iglesias del programa “Americas Connect” sigan buscando oportunidades para servir.

Oremos para que el Señor facilite más colaboraciones entre las iglesias.

Recursos en español

The post SEMANA DE ORACIÓN: Las iglesias se conectan con la tarea misionera appeared first on IMB.

U.S. Pastors Identify Their Greatest Needs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Pastors face unique difficulties inherent in their career, but what are their greatest needs? Pastors themselves say they’re most concerned about seeing their churchgoers grow spiritually and making connections with those outside of their churches. 

After speaking directly with pastors to gather their perspectives on their ministry and personal challenges, Lifeway Research surveyed 1,000 U.S. pastors for the 2022 Greatest Needs of Pastors study to discover what they see as their most pressing issues

“The pre-existing challenges of ministry were amplified by COVID, and it’s important we lean in and listen closely to pastors,” said Ben Mandrell, president of Lifeway Christian Resources. “This project has shed light on critical needs they have and will point the way forward in how we partner with them to fuel their ministries and improve their health in multiple areas.”

Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, said his team began the study by speaking with more than 200 pastors, asking them to think beyond the current pandemic-related struggles and share some of the enduring needs of pastors and their churches today.

“Their responses to the challenges they face and the areas that are most important for them were then presented to more than 200 additional pastors,” explained McConnell. “Based on those responses, 1,000 pastors were asked about almost four dozen needs to measure the extent to which each is something they need to address today.”

Of the 44 needs identified by pastors and included in the study, 17 were selected by a majority as an issue they need to address.

  • Developing leaders and volunteers: 77% 
  • Fostering connections with unchurched people: 76% 
  • People’s apathy or lack of commitment: 75% 
  • Consistency in personal prayer: 72% 
  • Friendships and fellowship with others: 69% 
  • Training current leaders and volunteers: 68% 
  • Consistency of Bible reading not related to sermon or teaching preparation: 68% 
  • Trusting God: 66% 
  • Relationships with other pastors: 64% 
  • Consistency in taking a Sabbath: 64% 
  • Stress: 63% 
  • Personal disciple making: 63% 
  • Confessing and repenting from personal sin: 61% 
  • Consistency exercising: 59% 
  • Avoiding overcommitment and over-work: 55% 
  • Challenging people where they lack obedience: 55% 
  • Time management: 51%

“The number and breadth of needs pastors are currently facing is staggering,” said McConnell. “All seven spiritual needs asked about on the survey are a current concern for most pastors, as well as practical, mental, self-care, skill-development and needs around ministry difficulties. Clearly pastors are not looking for shortcuts and are taking their roles as spiritual leaders in their church seriously.”

The 44 identified needs fall into seven broader categories. Subsequent releases in Lifeway Research’s 2022 Greatest Needs of Pastors study will explore each of the categories and the related needs specifically.

Single greatest need

When asked to narrow down their list to the single greatest need requiring their attention, pastors’ responses varied. At least one pastor surveyed picked each of the 44 possible needs, while 23 needs garnered at least 2% of pastors. Eight needs were chosen by more than 3% of pastors, and one reached double digits. 

  • People’s apathy or lack of commitment: 10% 
  • Personal disciple making: 9% 
  • Fostering connections with unchurched people: 8% 
  • Developing leaders and volunteers: 7% 
  • Establishing a compelling vision: 5% 
  • Technology: 4% 
  • Consistency in personal prayer: 4% 
  • Consistency exercising: 4% 

“When asked to prioritize their own greatest need, pastors tend to put the needs of their church’s ministry ahead of personal needs,” said McConnell. “Personally making disciples, developing leaders, connecting with those outside the church and mobilizing the people in their church are the most common ‘greatest needs’ and are among the most common needs pastors want to make a priority.”

Pastoral help 

When thinking about getting help with their needs, pastors want to hear from their fellow clergy who have been through the same struggles. 

Three in 4 U.S. pastors (75%) say they would be interested in getting advice or guidance on the issues they are facing from other pastors who have already been through those problems. Similar numbers (74%) would like to hear from those who understand churches like theirs.  

Another 70% would listen to other pastors who are currently facing the same needs. Slightly fewer (57%) want to hear from experts on those types of needs. Older pastors are the least likely to say they’d like advice from any of those sources.

“The most monumental needs of pastors are not new to this generation of pastors,” said McConnell. “They know other pastors and pastors who have gone before them are best positioned to understand and help them with the wide variety of ministry and personal needs a pastor faces.”

Still, previous Lifeway Research shows not all pastors are actively seeking out advice from their fellow clergy. More than 8 in 10 U.S. Protestant pastors say they feel supported by other pastors in their area. Fewer than half (46%), however, know and spend time with 10 or more other local pastors, according to a 2020 Lifeway Research survey.

Most pastors (54%) have those relationships with fewer than 10 other area clergy, including 1 in 20 (5%) who aren’t connected with any area pastors and 8% who have relationships with only one or two other ministers.

Pastors may also look to retired pastors for advice and wisdom for navigating common challenges. A 2019 Lifeway Research study of retired Protestant pastors, ministers and missionaries found some have struggled with the transition into retirement and are looking for ways to serve and connect with others.

More than 4 in 5 retired ministry workers (86%) say they have continued to make new friends in recent years, but 29% admit they feel lonely or isolated. When asked what resources would most help them with their relationships today, most say they want to make additional ministry connections: 25% say making friends who have similar experience in ministry, 23% making friends who live near me, 20% relating to a church in which I am not in leadership and 17% making friends who have had similar experience in leadership.

“Retired pastors and other ministry workers still want to serve the church,” said McConnell. “When Lifeway Research asked them how ministries could best serve those like them who are retired from full-time ministry, the most common response was to provide them with opportunities to serve or minister (16%). Current pastors looking for guidance may find retired pastors ready and willing to help.”

SBTC DR UPDATE: Teams head out to help in aftermath of Colorado fires

Colorado wildfires SBTC DR

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo.—Volunteers with Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief are heading to Colorado to help clean up damage caused by the 6,025-acre Marshall Fire, which destroyed hundreds of homes southeast of Boulder in January.

SBTC DR bunkhouses stationed at Melissa and Waxahachie are already en route to the Rocky Mountain State, driven by volunteers Mike Lene and Norman Prewitt, SBTC DR Director Scottie Stice said. Colorado Baptist DR will use the units to house volunteers working out of Reclamation Church in Boulder, Stice said.

“CO DR asked for the bunkhouses ASAP and we responded,” Stice explained, noting that two recovery teams from Bonham and Bellville are also preparing to deploy. The teams will be shoveling ash and assisting people in sifting through debris for valuables left after the fire.

“Some people have lost everything in this fire and our volunteer teams from across the state are ready to serve and assist them,” Stice said, noting that additional teams may be requested.  “We want those affected by the fire to know that there is hope and they are not alone.”

SBTC DR at the ready

A hallmark of all Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is readiness, as was shown recently by SBTC DR’s recent preparation to help survivors of December’s tornadoes in Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

SBTC DR units were set to deploy in tornado response, but their assistance as part of the SBDR national network was not needed at this time.

Daniel White, SBTC DR associate, explained the process in an email to DR volunteers: “When a disaster strikes out of state, we wait on the affected state to ask for our help. Civil authorities spend days conducting search and rescue operations, and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) are not allowed into the area until that is complete.”

Each state hit by the recent tornadoes has a strong SBDR ministry, White said. Arkansas needed no help; Tennessee received ample assistance from neighboring states and the state’s own volunteers; Missouri Baptist DR was assigned to help western Kentucky and call upon SBTC DR as needed. SBTC DR teams were scheduled to deploy but stood down when the work proved less than anticipated.

“The states all had more teams in the field than work to be done,” White said.

DR task force meets in Ennis

Meanwhile, SBTC DR task force members gathered Jan. 7-8 in Ennis to debrief 2021 and look ahead to 2022.

“We had good discussions about the major response of the year, which was to Hurricane Ida, especially in Golden Meadow and Gonzales, La.,” Stice said.

The need for additional SBTC DR workers was among the topics broached. For information on becoming a credentialed volunteer, visit



Canada joins list of nations banning conversion therapy

OTTOWA, Canada (BP) – A Canadian law banning any form of conversion therapy, broadly defined as treatment or counseling aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, went into effect Jan. 7.

Known as Bill C-4, the legislation became law in December 2021, after Canadian Governor General Mary Simon granted the legislation Royal Assent, or signature approval, after it unanimously passed both the Senate and the House of Commons

The law defines conversion therapy as any practice, treatment or service designed to change or repress a person’s sexual orientation, sexual behavior, gender identity or gender expression.

Media reports say the law makes it a criminal offense to cause someone to undergo conversion therapy as well as to promote, profit from or advertise the practice.

The legislation makes illegal the practice of such therapy on both adults and children and whether the person consents to treatment or not. This was Canada’s third attempt at banning the practice after two previous failed attempts.

Brazil, Ecuador, Germany, and Taiwan are among the nations that have laws banning conversion therapy.

Similar bans on conversion therapy for minors exist in 20 U.S. states and many cities. According to NBC News, three states (Florida, Alabama and Georgia) have injunctions blocking conversion therapy bans that are now in the federal judicial circuit.

Roger Brooks, senior council for Alliance Defending Freedom, has worked on several cases related to a ban on conversion or reparative therapy, including an ongoing case in Washington state.

He told Baptist Press although conversion or reparative therapy is an international issue and term (the United Nations called for banning the practice in 2020), it can often be a misleading term.

According to Brooks, what is actually being restricted by these bans are conversations, ideas or topics counselors would discuss with patients related to sexual behavior or gender.

He explained the U.S. Constitution should prevent any ban on speech, including conversations a counselor may have with a client about how to live out his or her faith with regard to sexuality and gender.

“It’s certainly an international conversation, but our rights as Americans are quarantined by the Constitution,” Brooks said.

“For the government to step in and say you can’t talk about that, that is frankly shocking. It’s shocking from a freedom of speech perspective and it’s unprecedented.”

Brooks theorized the Supreme Court could take up a case on a ban on conversion therapy as early as 2023, but acknowledged these types of things can be hard to predict.

Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, addressed the Canadian law as well as similar proposed legislation in Great Britain on the Jan. 3 episode of The Briefing.

He said such laws not only point to a battle in the counseling and scientific communities but illustrate a battle taking place that could affect churches and people of faith in their own lives.

“These particular bills could have the effect of chilling the preaching, restricting the liberty of the pulpit in Christian churches, and even could extend to potentially criminalizing personal conversations or outlawing certain conversations between parents and children,” Mohler said.

“If the government can tell you it is illegal to teach biblical truth on the issue of human sexuality, the array of LGBT issues, understand two things: Number one, it won’t stop with LGBT and understand, eventually it means the criminalization of whatever Christian speech is no longer politically attractive. And that eventually will mean everything that is revealed in Scripture, most essentially, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Mohler praised the biblical counselors in both Canada and Great Britain fighting against these laws.

“We are about to find out where the biblical Christians are on both sides of the Atlantic, and … on both sides of the American/Canadian border,” Mohler said.

This article originally appeared on Baptist Press.

Beaten but not defeated, South Asian women brave persecution for their faith

A powdered plant dye called henna was part of God’s design for bringing South Asian women living in Europe into a relationship with Him. Despite beatings, berating and children being taken away from them, many women chose to write the laws of the Lord on their hearts.

In 2016, IMB missionary Lena Eckhart* met Miriam* at a play group for children in their city. Lena told Miriam she enjoys applying henna designs on hands, and the women began meeting in a public park for henna sessions.

As Lena drew the designs on Miriam’s hand with the plant-based ink, she told her the Bible story that corresponds to the design. Lena asked Miriam if she had any family or friends who might be interested in the henna stories. The group grew to eight, and they began meeting in a private nursing room for mothers in a mall for fear someone might find out.

The group started as a henna group, but they eventually stopped to focus on stories about Jesus.

“God was clearly moving in their hearts,” Lena said. “They were amazed by the deeds and teachings of Jesus. They were especially struck by the fact that Jesus had the authority to forgive sin. They began asking questions about how it was possible for Jesus to forgive.”

Their questions and desire to meet as a group did not go unnoticed by their family members.

Beaten because of the Bible

“One of the biggest challenges we faced with leading this group was persecution,” Lena said describing the spiritual warfare the women faced as they sought to know about Jesus.” These attacks would typically take place after the husbands of these women heard about their wives’ participation in the study group.”

Some women were beaten by their husbands and family members. One woman was beaten so severely her arm was broken. Another woman had her children taken away by her family. One man brought the local Muslim religious leader to shame his wife.

“Every time there was an attack it would spook the ladies. The group would stop meeting,” Lena said. “After an attack, we would assume that the group was finished, but after a few weeks had passed, they would start making contact again and the group would persevere.”

When Miriam committed her life to Christ, her husband smacked her in the face and left her. However, after a month, he returned and asked her a series of questions.

“First, he asked if she was going to continue to follow Jesus. She said, ‘Yes.’ Second, he asked her if she was going to teach Christianity to their children. She said, ‘Yes, and they can decide for themselves if they want to follow Jesus or Muhammad.’ Third, he asked if she was going to continue to go to the mosque with him. She said, ‘I will if you want, but when I go, I will be worshiping Jesus in my heart.’ He then apologized for hitting her, and she replied, ‘I forgave you as soon as you did it. I forgive you as Jesus forgives,’” Lena recalls.

Miriam followed her profession of faith with believer’s baptism when she was 24 weeks pregnant. After Miriam’s baptism, more women came forward and professed faith and expressed that they wanted to be baptized. This decision always came at great personal cost. One 60-year-old lady was beaten by her husband and brother after they found out she became a Christian.

Still choosing to be baptized, she boldly proclaimed, “I have never felt peace or happiness in Islam. When my husband and brother were beating me, I felt the presence of God. And I was happy because I knew that if they killed me, then I would go to heaven. Jesus died for me. That is why I was willing to give my life for Him.”

Threats lead to an ally

Threats of violence also extended to Lena. Miriam came to a meeting with a black eye and bruises on her arm. Miriam’s sister, Paula*, had discovered her newfound faith and beat her.

“As she was beating Miriam, she was yelling, ‘Why are you not fighting back?’ Miriam responded by saying, ‘Because I love you,’” Lena said. “Miriam’s husband stood idly by and watched as his wife was beaten. In a way, this reminded us of Saul as he stood by and watched with approval as Stephen was being stoned.”

Paula made it known that if she ever found out who told her about the gospel, she would beat her as well. Miriam advised Lena to keep her distance from the discipleship group. At the next meeting, Paula unexpectedly showed up and confronted the group.

A few days later, Lena and Miriam met at a restaurant to talk about how the group was faring.

“Paula once again showed up unexpectedly. She had secretly followed Miriam for the purpose of spying on her,” Lena said.

Paula confronted Lena and demanded to know how they knew one another. Lena decided to leave the restaurant as quickly as possible because she had brought her children. Lena later found out Paula brought friends who were waiting outside the restaurant, intending harm. Lena and her children left the scene without incident.

Miriam was later able to share her faith with her sister. Paula asked to meet with Lena, and the three women arranged to meet at a café. Lena and Miriam shared testimonies of how Jesus had changed their lives.

“How is it that you can be so kind to me when I have been so mean to you?” Paula asked.

Lena explained that her kindness comes from God and that Jesus teaches Christians to love and bless those who persecute believers. Paula revealed she constantly feels rage and anger in her heart, and she doesn’t understand why.

“God’s Word has a lot to say about anger, and God can replace our rage with peace and thankfulness,” Lena told her.

Although Paula has not professed faith in Christ yet, she did become an ally for Miriam. Miriam’s mother began giving Miriam a hard time because she had perceived that Miriam had fallen away from Islam. Paula stood up for her sister and told her mother to leave Miriam alone.

Miriam and the other believers continue to grow in their faith, and their persistence in the face of bodily harm has furthered their witness.

*Names changed for security

Rick and Lena Eckhart* serve among South Asians in Europe.

The post Beaten but not defeated, South Asian women brave persecution for their faith appeared first on IMB.

Recommendation for interim president to be made at EC February meeting

NASHVILLE (BP) – Officers of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee will meet with EC vice presidents by the end of January, with a recommendation for one of them to serve as interim president coming at the Executive Committee’s February meeting, EC Chairman Rolland Slade told Baptist Press.

Per the SBC Executive Committee bylaws, officers are given the responsibility to designate a vice president to act as interim when the president/CEO post is vacant. The current EC vice presidents are Jonathan Howe, Communications; Willie McLaurin, Great Commission Relations and Mobilization; and Jeff Pearson, Chief Financial Officer.

“We certainly appreciate the patience that has been shown to us in these critical times,” said Slade. “Our vice presidents are each godly men who have worked cohesively with the officers to provide leadership that has not gone unnoticed.”

In addition to Slade, other officers include Stacy Bramlett, vice chair; Monte Shinkle, secretary, and committee chairs and committee chairs Erik Cummings, Convention Events and Strategic Planning; Andrew Hunt, Convention Missions and Ministry; Jim Gregory, Southern Baptist Relations; and Archie Mason, Convention Finances and Stewardship Development.

The EC president became vacant on Nov. 1 after Ronnie Floyd announced on Oct. 14 his intention to resign at the end of that month. Floyd had served as EC president since May 2019.

This article originally appeared on Baptist Press.