Dean Inserra, lead pastor of City Church in Tallahassee, Fla., is slated as a panelist for the 2018 Evangelicals for Life Conference Jan. 18-20 in Washington, D.C. He and other panelists will discuss how to build a pro-life culture in the local church.
ERLC photo by Kelly Hunter
“To be pro-life is to honor God’s climax of creation, the human race,” said Dean Inserra, lead pastor of City Church in Tallahassee, Fla.
The annual event draws Christians from across the nation to hear from more than 40 speakers in plenary sessions, panel discussions, interviews and breakout sessions on a wide range of pro-life issues.
The conference is hosted by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and Focus on the Family, and occurs in conjunction with the March for Life on Jan. 19, the largest pro-life event in the world.
The Biblical Recorder interviewed Inserra to learn more about the upcoming conference. Below is a lightly edited transcript.
Q: Before we get to questions about the sanctity of human life, let’s talk about the nature of local churches. Does each local church have a “culture?” What does that mean?
A: Certainly. Each local church has a culture whether they realize it or not. A culture of a local church is about what I call, “make up.” That is actually a sports term to describe a player possessing certain qualities, or lack thereof. It influences what a church values and how they approach gatherings, budget, staffing, ministries and relationship to the community.
Culture in a local church context is largely about approach. By asking questions such as, “What is your church’s approach to preaching, evangelism, youth ministry, children’s ministry, etc.?” I can tell you the make up of the church, or the culture.
Q: Being pro-life can sometimes feel like it’s for those political Christians “out there” – the lobbyists, apologists and demonstrators. What does it mean for a local body of believers, week-in and week-out, to be pro-life?
A: It means to be in step with God’s design. To be pro-life is to honor God’s climax of creation, the human race. For a local church in the regular rhythm of daily life, it can be summed up in practicing a love for God and neighbor.
We love God by obeying his commandments, responding to the truth He has revealed through His word that our neighbors are His image bearers. This means that when my neighbor is vulnerable, hurting or devalued, as a Christian I love God and neighbor by responding to the needs of those image bearers in whatever way possible.
Q: Is being pro-life about politics or theology?
A: Being pro-life is about theology, but it is certainly practiced in politics, because that is a great arena to influence for the common good for our neighbors. To be pro-life in theology, but have no interest in how this is carried out politically is a type of faith without works.
Yet, at the same time, it is not the responsibility of the government to have a robust theology of the imago Dei. This is the responsibility of the church. We cannot pass the responsibility of caring for our neighbors to the government, but we do need to advance the common good through the opportunities made possible by political engagement.
Q: What are some ways churches can put pro-life convictions into practice?
A: I believe it begins with conviction from the pulpit, where a pastor refuses to be silent concerning matters of life, especially when it comes to abortion. If the church doesn’t know where the pastors, elders or leadership stands on the issue, there is a serious problem.
Then, I believe it starts in finding local ways to engage in pro-life support. Churches should look for ways to support pregnancy centers, provide pathways to care for the vulnerable and create cultures of grace and truth that possess conviction and care, rather than condemnation.