Minister equips Christians to defend pro-life view

Twenty years ago Scott Klusendorf was serving as an associate pastor in southern California when he was invited to attend a pro-life breakfast.
What he heard there changed his life forever.

“The speaker gave what I thought was one of the most persuasive and cogent defenses of the pro-life view I’d ever heard,” Klusendorf told the TEXAN. “And that was persuasive enough. But then he showed images of what abortion is. And I’m telling you, when I saw those images, I knew that ? I needed to change fundamentally who and what I was.”

So he resigned from his position on the church staff and launched a ministry of equipping pro-lifers to make a persuasive case for their position.
After serving on the staffs of two other ministries, he founded the Life Training Institute in 2004. As president of the Colorado-based organization, Klusendorf produces resources and travels the country to make rational arguments against abortion.

His book “The Case for Life” along with articles and other resources are available on the Life Training Institute’s website, prolifetraining.com. The site also provides information on the organization’s speaking team, which is available to address churches and youth groups.

To date Klusendorf’s instruction has taught thousands of believers how to defend the pro-life view in two minutes or less.

“First of all, we teach pro-life Christians how to make a scientific case for the humanity of the unborn, using science to demonstrate that from the earliest stages of development, each of us was a distinct, living and whole human being,” Klusendorf said. “We use philosophy to demonstrate that there’s no essential difference between the embryo we once were and the adults we are today that would justify killing us at that earlier stage of development.”

Among the forums where he has made pro-life presentations are Christian camps, crisis pregnancy center events, high schools and university campuses. Klusendorf also participates regularly in debates with abortion defenders, including a former president of the ACLU.

These events have made a tangible difference in the lives of Christian youth, according to Klusendorf.

“It’s staggering to listen to the response from Christian kids,” he said. “They say, ‘No one has ever talked to us about this. We have heard people say abortion’s wrong, but they don’t give us the tools of thought we need to defend a pro-life view.'”

For some teens, the effect of Klusendorf’s presentations has been very personal. After he spoke at a Christian summer camp, three girls in one youth group confessed having abortions and resolved to warn their friends against making the same mistake.

But the impact went much further than one youth group. Klusendorf made weekly presentations at the same camp throughout the summer, training thousands of teens how to combat relativism and answer pro-choice rhetoric.

“At the end of that summer, we had trained 10,000 kids, and the e-mails we got back from parents and from students were unbelievable,” he said. “Some of them read things like this: We’ve been going to Christian camps for years and have never gotten the content we needed to make a difference in the real world where we live, and this is doing that.”

Following a presentation at a Catholic high school in Baltimore, Klusendorf received an e-mail from a 15-year-old girl. Though she determined in advance to sleep through the event, she told him that it captivated her and completely changed her views on abortion.

According to Klusendorf, similar pro-life success stories can happen in any local church that is willing to address the issue in a bold, intelligent and compassionate manner. He emphasizes, though, that merely identifying abortion as an evil often is not enough to stimulate life transformation.

“Many churches do a fair job at least identifying the issue, saying, ‘You know, human beings are made in God’s image, and because we bear God’s image, we shouldn’t shed innocent blood.’ That message needs to get out, but we’ve got to go a step further. We’ve got to equip our people to engage those around them,” he said.

Such equipping must include presenting the gospel as a source of healing and forgiveness for men and women who have experienced the trauma of abortion, he said. Klusendorf added that to be truly pro-life, a congregation must hear preaching on the value of human beings and receive practical training on how to confront abortion in the culture.

“We don’t have a lot of pro-life churches,” he said. “We have a lot of churches who claim to be pro-life.”

Though the task may seem daunting, Klusendorf said pastors can fight successfully against abortion and save lives. Gospel-saturated preaching and simple training to defend the truth are the keys, he said.

“Pastors need to realize they can win on the abortion issue if they deal with it the right way,” he said. “It does not have to be a losing issue for them. If they will preach with conviction on it and at the same time present the gospel as the antidote that people need if they’ve sinned on this issue, it can be a win-win.”

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