Church Crisis Centers

There seems to be no end to the number and types of programs, projects, productions and activities being carried on by churches right now. Churches have “self-help” programs (for auto-repair, job-training, secular-education, arts and crafts, sports and entertainment…etc). Some churches have for years had child-day-care centers. Some churches now have their own “crisis” centers, including drug and alcohol rehab centers and pregnancy centers. In an online statement, the Sherwood Baptist Church offered “free pregnancy testing and ultrasounds to those in need.” How far will this type of thing go? Is this really the work of the church?

One of these church-operated pregnancy centers particularly caught my attention last week. A church member where I preach handed me a newspaper advertisement in which the Living Hope Baptist church described what they were doing for pregnant women. A representative of the church said, “If they choose to have the baby, we’ll walk with them for two years. If they choose to abort, we’ll walk with them in care and love and whatever council we can provide.”

The New Testament church knew of no such “crisis centers.” No Bible authority can be found for churches to operate pregnancy crisis centers or to do any of the things listed above. Churches are to teach the gospel to the lost and to the saved (Ephesians 4:12). They are to worship God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). With regard to benevolence, churches are authorized to help needy saints with basic physical necessities of life (Acts 4:32; 6:1-4; 11:29-30; Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 8:4, 14; 9:12). It should be noted that the needs described in these passages were due to unique circumstances. Acts 11 describes a regional drought that affected saints. The other passages describe needs resulting from the influx of people into Jerusalem at the time of the establishment of the Lord’s Church (Acts 2). Locals took extreme measures to care for their new brethren, including the sale of their houses and lands (Acts 4:34). These were not planned events! They were incidental. It should also be noted that both Jesus and Paul defined physical need as the absence of “food and clothing” (Matthew 6:31; 1 Timothy 5:8). Yes, a pregnant woman can qualify as a needy saint, but no church crisis center is needed to help her.

What about helping women who plan to have abortions? Obviously, churches and church members should be ready to “council” such women, as the above quote states, but the council must be that they NOT have an abortion! Abortion is unlawful killing. It is murder. No church should aid a woman who intends to have an abortion. If a woman has an abortion, she must be counseled to repent of her sin and meet God’s conditions of forgiveness. Perhaps the point will be clearer if we change our example from the specific (abortion) to the generic (murder): If a man plans to murder his neighbor, a church can council him not to do so, but a church should not announce that it is going to “walk with” and help the man even if he follows through with the murder. If a man plans to rape his neighbor’s wife, a church can council him not to do so, but no church should promise to help the man even if he follows through with the rape. Jesus demanded repentance (Luke 13:3-5; Acts 2:38), and so must we (Luke 17:2-3).

—Tim Haile

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