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Why the Church won't speak about abortion

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Podcast Transcript | About Abortion with Dave Brennan

Frozen at the mouth ft. Matt Cliff | 15 Nov 2022 | Episode 23

Introducing Matt

Dave Brennan: Hello and welcome to this week's episode of About Abortion. I am thrilled to be introducing my old friend and coworker, Matt Cliff, who is calling all the way from Australia. Matt, thank you so much for dialing in.

Matt Cliff: No problem, Dave. Thank you for having me, a privilege.

Dave Brennan: What time is it there where you are?

Matt Cliff: It's ten to seven here.

Dave Brennan: Wow. You used to live up in the northwest of England. I do think that was quite a distance, but you're now several thousand feet beneath me actually, aren't you? You're under my feet by a few thousand miles probably.

Matt Cliff: I wouldn't know. It's a long way away there.

Dave Brennan: Thanks so much for making time and just introduce yourself a bit, Matt. Tell us, you've literally just moved to Australia, three weeks in?

Matt Cliff: Yes, three weeks in. I went to Bible college at London School of Theology. I did a BA and I did a master's degree there. And whilst I was down there, I pastored at a church as well, Chenies Baptist Church, which is just outside of Watford. And then whilst I was pastoring, I met my wife who was from Australia. So that was interesting for our future. We had some decisions to make regarding where we're going to be long term. And then Brisbane won, so I'm happy. And that brought me all the way to Australia and we made the decision to come at last.

And we actually moved three weeks ago. So it's all a bit fresh. It's all a bit new. We're excited. Been a bit overwhelming as you can imagine, but God's been good in that process as well for us.

Dave Brennan: Brilliant. I see you've managed to maintain your accent so far.

Matt Cliff: Honestly, Dave, when I went down to London, I had to learn to speak slowly, and now I feel like I'm going all through that process again. Now in Australia, when I'm talking to people, they're just looking at me. I’m thinking, you have got no idea what I've just said. So it's all good. I've been there before. I'm experienced in this department now.

Dave Brennan: So just smile and nod, smile and nod.

Matt Cliff: That's it. That's what they do to me.

Dave Brennan: Great. And you've got a baby on a way first. First baby.

Matt Cliff: First baby on the way, early February. So yeah, we're super excited about that as well.

Dave Brennan: That's good. Wonderful. We're praying for you guys. It's great. Now for those who have been listening in on this podcast thus far, you might have picked up that Matt Cliff is the guy whose hard work I came in and just plagiarised a couple of weeks ago, looking really at the silence of the church.

It was your Masters, wasn't it, looking at what extent there is a silence in the UK evangelical church when it comes to abortion. So really that was quite pioneering work, wasn't it? I'm not aware of anyone else having really done that kind of analysis.

Matt Cliff: Yeah. I'll share how I came to that conclusion. Basically I was looking to do something for my Masters and then I was going do it actually on Paul's theology or something like that, the real biblical route. And then I was in a Waitrose one day and just standing in a queue and I just looked on my left. And I saw an article and this must have been about five years ago, 2017, and it talked about Cathy Warwick, who was on the board of the Royal Midwives Union [Royal College of Midwives] and also on the board of BPAS at the time as well.

And I just thought that was strange. That seems like a bit of a conflict of interests. And what she was trying to do was sign up the Royal Midwives Association to what BPAS were doing. And I'll be honest, again, as we talked about, I was notionally pro-life, you know what I mean? But that was it. I had a sort of conviction, a cognitive conviction, basically, no action or anything like that towards it.

The Church’s silence on abortion

And my first question when I read that article was, Where's the Church on this issue? That's exactly what I thought in Waitrose that day. And to be honest, that's been my heart for the last five years. Nothing's changed really. I keep coming back to that question about where is the Church, where is the prophetic voice on this issue, specifically in the UK? Obviously it's a completely different issue in America.

But in the UK there is a silence. That was my hypothesis if you like, and then my Masters was trying to prove that. And God was good. I got so many doors opened and through that I obviously got to meet you guys. I got the chance to be blessed. I got the chance to go to the Evangelical Alliance and essentially what happened was I found out very quickly that there was hardly any scholarship with regards to UK evangelicals on this issue. That made it very difficult to do a thesis on it, so I needed a conversation partner as it were. And I chose the Evangelical Alliance as my conversation partner and basically did a historical survey of their documents, and that led me to the figures that I came up with in my thesis. So yeah, it's been an interesting journey.

Dave Brennan: And thank you for that work you did there, because I think it's really critical. It's one thing to just posit that there's a silence or observe it anecdotally. But what you've done is you've helped to really quantify that silence and in particular to place the silence alongside how we respond to other issues. And that really brings it into sharp relief, doesn't it? We're quite happy to talk about poverty or racism, climate change, and in recent times, Covid-19.

You don't get many churches saying, “Oh, we shouldn't really mention Covid-19. It's a distraction from the gospel”. So when you see it laid alongside those other issues, it really is objectively very stark, isn't it? We've gone over that a bit. A couple of episodes ago we looked at your work and also a more recent bit of research as well, quantifying that silence and it really is stark.

And then just more recently an episode with Ben John. Just drilling down on the fact that biblically there really is a mandate to speak. This is not an optional extra, it's not something we can just afford to say, “Okay, there's a silence, but we are just here to preach to the gospel.” No, there is a very clear mandate to speak. What I'd love to explore with you today is really, why is there this silence? We've seen that there is a silence. We've seen that there shouldn't be. Why is that? What's the blockage? So can you help us, Matt, just to think through what are those hindrances?

I'm thinking particularly here of church leaders, preachers, teachers, because as we've said many times, “Silence in the pulpit leads to confusion/ ignorance... A mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pews,” or something, isn't it?

What happens in the teaching of a church is so impactful and so huge. If people are not getting an example to follow it leaves that vacuum for worldly voices to fill. So I'm thinking especially of those who are listening in who are pastors, but also many who are listening in are members of churches and they have a deep desire that really concerns them, that their own local church is not engaging with this.

Can we try and help these people, be they leaders or just members of the church? What are the problem points and how can we address them? So what is it? Is it errors of thinking? Is it a heart issue? What's your perspective?

Matt Cliff: This is the million dollar question, Dave. And ultimately at this point it is very theoretical. I'm doing a PhD in this, so leading on from my Masters. So to go back a step, we have the empirical data. I think that's pretty much solid and been laid down that we can confidently say there is a silence on the issue of abortion within the contemporary evangelical church.

Seeker sensitive church

And the next question you are asking is the right one. Why? And that's where we want to get to. And I think again, there are many different ideas on why there is a silence. Now personally I've shared this with you before. One of the big areas I think, is our view on church models - how we structure our churches, e.g. if we have a ‘seeker sensitive’ model, which was obviously massively popular in the US, and a lot of churches in the UK actually inherited that model. And the onus on that model is to become, ultimately, a great model in terms of how to build a big church. Evangelistically it's a great model if that's what you want. However, the problem with the seeker sensitive movement is I really feel it's damaged us from a discipleship point of view, because if your model is to be geared towards having people come and feel welcome, (which again, we don't want to be negative, we don't want to be against this, obviously, we want that). But there's more to the calling of a church. There's more to the vision a pastor should have for a church. And ultimately, I think that model has been detrimental to discipleship, and again, if you've got that model, you are not going to want to speak on abortion in your church because it goes completely against what you're trying to achieve. So I think, around church models, that's one big area.

Belong before you believe

And another area I would say is, I spoke to a pastor at a well-known Baptist church and he went to a Baptist theological college. And he was taught this sort of model that you have to belong before you believe. So you've got to understand that a lot of pastors are going to these colleges and being taught these things. And he shared with me privately, that for years he was taught that, he tried to implement that. The problem was for him that they would never believe.

So he spent all his time just making people feel welcome and that they belonged. And again, how does it affect our teaching on ethics, our teaching on discipleship? Because if you are trying to get people to belong, you're not going to want to talk on divisive issues.

The traffic light system

And I'll give you another example. I remember when I was at Bible college, I heard there was another big church that was doing what's called a traffic light system. So basically they would have red, amber and green, and they would talk on issues. So you could bring your friends to a green service and you wouldn't want to bring them to a red service. It's nonsense really, but this is what's being taught. So in one sense I don't want to throw pastors under the bus. I want to encourage them, because, being a pastor, I understand the temptation to look round and think, wow, their church is flourishing, but I'm preaching biblical truth, but my church isn't growing, and there's a temptation there to water down what you're preaching. I can understand again for pastors, being one, how difficult it is.

Dave Brennan: That's really helpful. So not only is there this seeker sensitive current flowing through the UK Church, but it's actually expressly taught. This is at college. People are saying, “Don't touch this,” or, “Just get people to belong before they believe.” And so people would probably say in quite a considered way, that they have adopted this as their approach to ministry. I was reminded as you were speaking there, of an episode I was involved with a church where, it was very painful actually, because we had agreed we were going to teach about abortion, and then it started a sort of civil war within the leadership. A couple of them were in favour, a couple were really strongly opposed. And in the end what had been agreed was decimated. And something still happened, but it was nothing compared to what was meant to have happened and what had been agreed anyway. During this whole tussle over whether it was even right to do this, a very interesting phrase came out from one of the leaders in opposition, which was, “We can't see the missional value in doing this,” which is really interesting because it raises the question of what do we mean by missional? Whose mission? What mission? And of course they were thinking of mission in terms of getting people in and yes, certainly seeing them come to Christ, but it was an approach to mission, which was: avoid offense, seeker sensitive, get them in, and there may well be a sort of some kind of aspiration to address the harder issues one day, somewhere further down the line. The difficulty is, does that day ever come?

The reason I recognise this approach is because I've been there myself and I probably still am there in many ways. I remember as a sort of teenage / early twenties Christian, that was certainly my default approach to evangelism. I’ve just got to make sure everyone likes me, avoid offense, be everyone's favourite guy. And then they'll listen when I tell them the gospel. The problem is, (and this is I guess Satan's part to play in that whole equation,) is what I not only underestimated, but didn't think about at all, is just how bad it was for my own heart to have a methodology to evangelism which massages my pride and my idols. Because it is really quite nice, having an approach whereby, the critical factor is, everyone likes you. And there's never any conflict or whatever. It's intoxicating actually because you are forever putting off the cost, for yourself and for those you're seeking to reach.

And then it becomes very difficult one day to turn that all around, and come back again and say, “Actually, there's some hard stuff we need to talk about.”

What does a successful church look like?

Matt Cliff: I think you're right, bro. I think what's interesting is the flaw, as you're saying, is in our methodology. That's where it starts, and the next question is what does a successful church look like? And if, e.g., you are looking at the American, huge megachurch model, success there looks like big and relevant.

Now again, we're not against relevant, we're not against big. But if that's your primary goal, it's going to shape the way we do evangelism. What about discipleship? How are we going to fulfil our mandate to grow our believers as well? And sadly, sometimes that gets left behind. And ultimately at ground level, this has affected a lot of ethical issues, not just abortion. So the flaw is in the methodology I would say.

Dave Brennan: That's really helpful, because I think a lot of people wouldn't make that connection. Where's the church on abortion? Actually it's to do with church’s methodology. It's what we think we're here for, what the church is about. And I do think that this seeker sensitivity has actually spread much further than the churches who would consciously subscribe to it. I think it's spread even into some of the very conservative reformed churches who would certainly not see themselves as seeker sensitive, and would probably even warn against such an approach.

But in practice, many of the same effects can be observed. So I'm thinking about churches who, e.g., on sexuality, would certainly hold to a very orthodox position, but they never talk about it, certainly not from the front. And the reason given is that it's a very sensitive issue, we wouldn't want people to be distracted from the main thing. They're not getting anywhere close to changing their actual doctrine on these issues, but they're not wanting to talk about it. And there's a sort of distaste or even a kind of fatigue when it comes to being countercultural, that it's seen as somehow combative or nitpicky and, we just want to keep to the main thing.

I think even the very conservative churches that I'm thinking about, during the whole Covid-19 thing, just hearing some responses from within some very conservative churches… We're not talking about really charismatic, aspiring to be megachurches at all, but a major concern being, what will people think of our response to what's going on? It's that what's the PR element here? And there's a place for that. Certainly, we don't want to bring the gospel into disrepute, but it's just interesting how often I think decisions are filtered through How's this going to be received? What are people going to think about this?

And that, again, can very easily become not just a consideration, (which it should be), but it can become the authoritative filter on what happens and what doesn’t.

Matt Cliff: I think you're right. Again, we come back to the earlier point: seeker sensitivity is one element. That doesn't mean it's necessarily the case for every single church and we’ve also got to acknowledge that there will be some churches that are talking on this issue as well. There are obviously some. We would want more. But there are pastors who are faithfully teaching this, and bless them, are trying to walk their congregations through this.

I think with the more conservative, maybe reform-type churches, there are a few issues. John Stott in his book said this, that, “At the end of the day, we can have a pro-life position, but it comes down to courage. Are you going to be courageous or not to stand up there and talk?” So that's one issue as well. Ultimately, it's not just a theoretical understanding, it's actually putting your will to action and standing up there and be willing to do that. And that's hard. I've done it.

Pastors need help

The other issue is, again, I want to be empathetic with pastors. Some pastors just may not understand how to think this through. That's the reality Dave. We think that they should have all the answers and it should be easy for them, but it's sometimes not as easy as we think, and they need education as well. That’s why Brephos is great. They need that help. They may not be getting that at their Bible colleges. We can't presume that they're getting that education there. And also, I think they need encouragement, but they've got to also understand that Paul says, “I have so many things to tell you, but you cannot bear them.”

I'll give you an example. It may not be wise for a pastor, e.g., to listen to this podcast and speak to his congregation on Sunday about this issue. It may be, but ultimately, as a pastor, you've got to shepherd your people. You've got to acknowledge where they are, what they can bear and walk them to where they need to be. And I'm not saying this is the model, but what I tried to do, before speaking on the issue of abortion, was start talking around areas of authority of scripture - trying to put these foundations in place. Theological method, ethical method - how do we think through these difficult issues? And then when we come to abortion, it's not such a huge jump for them. Because they can logically understand. And I think that's how I'd look to encourage pastors, to say, “Look, I understand the conviction to speak on this issue ASAP, and some churches who have that foundational element in place, you can probably go and speak on that in a month.” But for others, they may think, actually I need to take a step back.

As you're saying about models, think where am I being intentional about my discipleship? Because that's the issue. Am I preparing my people for what they're going to face in the world, one of them being abortion? And once you lay the groundwork there, you can then start talking about these issues. And again your people will understand where you're coming from.

Speaking on abortion: massive evangelistic opportunity

And Dave, as you said, a lot of people see abortion as going against their strategy for evangelism. And I just want to encourage anyone listening that this is a massive evangelistic opportunity.

I was just with a woman in the week who was giving a talk from the stage. I'll tell the story quickly. She wasn't going to church, had an abortion, and later on, as we know, 10 years down the line, the trauma started to kick in. She broke down at work, had to go home, was seeking help, went to the doctor. These two psychologists come see her. She said it didn't help one bit, but she said there was a pastor that approached her from across the street, who had stayed in for cancer, and said he gave up his time of evening, the little time he had left to shepherd her through this issue. She came to the Lord and is now speaking all across the world, 39 countries she's spoken in. And just again, when I'm listening to that, I think, wow, what an opportunity we've got for the church, for pastors. What an evangelistic opportunity. Because as we know, one in three women are having an abortion these days.

So it's a huge opportunity for pastors, and we need to be able to disciple our folks on this, and equip them when they're in conversations with their friends, family members, who may be dealing with the trauma of this issue, because it affects more people than we know. They're able to come alongside them.

Dave Brennan: One hundred percent. I think a lot of people say, and no doubt mean, that they want to be relevant, culturally on point and the conclusion they then arrive at is therefore we don't talk about the thorny issues. But actually the opposite is the case, isn't it? Because actually when we address this huge issue, which as you say is affecting one in three women very directly, and affecting a whole load of other people less directly. is there a more important issue out there on which to convey the gospel? And it is a huge evangelistic opportunity. Huge.

And when we go out on the streets doing our public education work, we often find that starting by talking about abortion actually helps to provoke a conversation about the gospel because you're meeting people where they're at with real life issues, with worldview stuff, with life and death, guilt, forgiveness.

And there's an opportunity there to speak of Christ. And I think we've been trained to think, many of us, the way to do evangelism is to tiptoe around the tough subjects. But interestingly it doesn't seem to be Jesus's approach. And actually, as you've been speaking about the traffic lights, red, yellow, green, I was thinking, what traffic lights would we apply to Jesus' public ministry? I think it'd be red pretty much the whole time. It's don't go there! Don't mention money to the rich guy. Don't do something on the Sabbath in front of the Pharisees. Don't ask the woman at the well about her husband, but Jesus seems to make a beeline for that!

Matt Cliff: In evangelism classes Jesus fails straight away at that moment. That's the reality.

Dave Brennan: It's true. But He's the master. And I think when we're looking at how to build my church, what is an effective church look like, how do we evangelise effectively, we so often just bypass the Master, and we look to modern techniques or whatever, but it's all there. And we see Jesus going for difficult issues precisely because He's trying to reach the heart of the people He's speaking with. The rich man cannot come to Christ with his love of money still intact. That's got to go. The woman at the well who's seeking satisfaction in man after man cannot come to Christ and keep that approach to life intact. She's got to choose which well she’s going to be drinking from. And I think when pastors and others get hold of this it's a really exciting thing to realise, that when it comes to real Christ-centred mission, actually engaging with issues like this is a gift which is going to accelerate true evangelism and real discipleship. And that ought to excite us.

Matt Cliff: And one that He is also intricately involved with. He wants to reach these women as well. And I really feel that the church would rediscover its prophetic voice for a start, but I really believe that the Lord will bless the church as well. That's the irony. We’ll see the growth that we want to see. One of the questions that you've got face as a pastor, when I meet Jesus face to face, He's not going to say, “Matt, did you build a big church?” He's not going to say, “How relevant was your church?” He's going to ask me, “Were you faithful?” And that's the key. And that often doesn't get the applause. That doesn't get the recognition from a worldly sense. But I'm not perfect in this area at all, but what I need to be seeking is recognition from our Lord, not from the world.


Dave Brennan: I just want to pick up on the other thing you said there about the journey of the shepherd, the sort of incremental leading of the flock. And that's something we do see in scripture. You mentioned Paul there. We see it in the way Jesus spoke with his disciples, but actually throughout scripture, revelation is gradual, it's progressive, it's incremental. And the reality is that a lot of issues come together in something like abortion. There are people's attitude towards the media - do they just believe what they're read in the media or do they question it? Ideas of feminism and what it means to be a fulfilled person, that are going to feed into this. Whether they consider the medical profession and doctors to be infallible or even morally authoritative - all of these things will need addressing. And ultimately, before the Lord, it's going to be in particular the teachers, the elders of a church who stand to account for how they've pastored their church.

And just to be clear, for anyone listening, I'm certainly not presuming to be some church's pastor. I'm not. I've got no authority. We're trying to help. We're trying to resource local churches, local pastors in the work which only they can do actually. And sure, if invited, we come in and we do some teaching and we are delighted to serve in that way. But ultimately, before God, it is the local leaders, the pastors who know where their flock's at, and what's the next step along that journey. And we just want to encourage that.

And certainly from my trips around different churches in the UK it is very clear very quickly which churches are more ready for the message, and which ones aren't. And that's not to say it was wrong to do it. I think, at the end of the day, there's no perfect way to address these things. You've just got to do it. And then you might find, okay, this has come to the surface, so now we've got to address that. I'm not saying it was premature and therefore wrong, but what I am saying is churches that clearly had been well taught and well discipled in the authority of scripture, in being comfortable in confronting the culture where we need to, and bearing the cost of that persecution, suffering for Christ being actually a privilege. When these building blocks are in place, addressing something like abortion is pretty easy actually. It’s just another issue along the line. And that's because all that preparatory work has taken place. I just agree with what you said there, that we are not going to be able to solve this all in one. We need to prayerfully and wisely turn up the temperature in a way that brings people with us.

But again, we've got to be wary of what scripture says about the heart being deceitful and no one can understand it. It's very easy for that approach then to obviously become an excuse and we never get there. We've got to, as you say, bear in mind our accountability before the Lord, but acknowledge that every church has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the journey may look slightly different from church to church.

Matt Cliff: I think, for me, what I don't want people to come away with is thinking that we don't value evangelism as well. I want to be clear, those people, I do believe that they genuinely want to see people come to know Jesus Christ. I just think it's a flawed perspective. So I'm not hammering them in any way. I'm just calling them hopefully back to a model which is more biblical. And this comes back to, ultimately, churches that are intentional about discipleship, it's easier to speak about abortion. I think we've lost that intentionality with discipleship. Just another area: home groups. When I was a pastor, I had to really think through what are we trying to achieve here? What happening here? I felt like my people weren't getting much discipleship anywhere other than a Sunday morning and again, we were aware that were unbelievers in the midst. So I was seeking a platform where I could go deeper. So we used to do something on a Wednesday night called Be Equipped. And when they came they understood that this is going to be deep. But they came with that mindset already, so it wasn't a shock for them, and if they didn't want to come, that's fine. I have to pastor them.

But I think that being intentional about discipleship is crucial and it's going to be crucial going forward, the harder it gets in our culture. Because it's naive to think that our people aren't getting discipled at all. They're getting discipled by the culture. So it's even harder for us and we need to be even more intentional. We can't assume now they have a Christian view or Judeo-Christian foundations. We can't assume that anymore. So we have to be intentional about discipleship.

The strategies Satan uses in our churches

Dave Brennan: Thanks for saying that, And I think in all of this we've got our battle against the flesh, we've got a battle against the world, then certainly UK culture, but maybe even more than others. I'm not saying it's easy anywhere, but British culture is very much, if something's a bit awkward, just don't say it. Some parts of the country you're not even allowed to say hello as you walk past someone in the street. When it comes to something like this, there's a very strong maybe unspoken message from the world: don't touch this, don't go there.

So we're battling against our own flesh, we're battling against the world, but there's also, of course, our great adversary Satan, who is very wily in his schemes. He deceives us into thinking that for the sake of the mission, don't touch this. But quite specifically, one thing that Satan convinces church leaders in particular about is this exaggerated idea of just how awful it would be if you did speak about this issue.

There's a real fear about engaging this issue and it's been said, “False evidence appearing real: F. E. A. R..” And there's a sense that if I address abortion on Sunday, my church will almost literally explode. People are going to be on the floor, people are going to be leaving in droves, people are going to be arguing and deeply offended and it's all going to fall apart. Now the reality is, I would say, having spoken in dozens of churches now, the fear beforehand is totally out of proportion with the reality that actually takes place. And what happens in the vast majority of cases from the vast majority of people in the congregation, is just gratitude that it's happened. And a sense of that was right, we needed that, including for people who've had abortions. Often that's a specific fear - what about those who've had abortions? I don't want to raise this issue and cause further hurt and damage. Actually, it's often especially those people who come up and say thank you.

I remember one lady, she must have been in her seventies, had an abortion decades ago, and she came up to me after a preach and said, “Every 16 year old girl in the country needs to see that.” Often it's the very people we are afraid of hurting. And again, that's genuine. I'm not saying that's a made-up excuse. I think that's a genuine concern, but it's those very people who are often most grateful and certainly most in need of addressing this. So, I think just noticing those fears and Satan's favourite tactic probably is fear. It's obviously lies, but it's often with fear mixed in there because if we listen to fear, if we allow fear to rule, it makes obedience impossible. There's a reason isn't there that the most repeated phrase in the whole of scripture is, “Don't be afraid.”

Set free from the trauma of abortion

Matt Cliff: You know what, brother, I think you're right. I've been with you and heard you do these talks a few times. And then I've been in the congregation in these talks when you've spoken, and there have been women that have been set free. Or I remember in a church you spoke at, a woman didn't want to come. And she came and ultimately learned to confront this trauma that she had very deep inside, and she was set free. That’s the goal, isn't it? Obviously to educate people and to not let this happen, but also to set these women free, cause that's the trauma. And that's why it's so sad. My heart feeling for this issue is not so I can promote a certain political agenda or anything like that. Ultimately it's to set these captives free. Because we know the trauma’s there and there's nothing better than that, and there's nothing more rewarding. And all the flak I'm sure that you take, that makes it worth it. Because that's what the Lord wants. As the devil wants to keep these people in captivity, bondage, in that guilt and shame, and that message obviously brings light and it's amazing.

And that's why, again, we want to encourage pastors, because this type of thing can happen. We aren't to be naive. We know that in our congregation this is happening.

Dave Brennan: And I think just to encourage pastors out there and anyone else, what we're encouraging here is not actually a burdensome thing. It's not a trip to the dentist, where I’ve got to get through this. Actually, this is the real stuff. This is Gospel ministry. This is setting captives free. We were encouraged just the other day. Someone sent through a photo of a little baby boy at church I went to speak at about a year ago now. And after the service, a lady in the congregation went and shared what she had learnt with her friend who was pregnant and had one abortion early in her life, and was planning to have an abortion this time round as well. But she shared what she picked up from the service and this lady changed her mind and had the baby. And a year down the line, we just got sent a picture of this gorgeous little baby boy.

And it's impossible, I think, to imagine this side, when we haven't yet talked about it, to imagine this positive fruit we're talking about - literally lives saved. Women, men who've been burdened by guilt for years, even decades, set free. This is a real joy. And what we are advocating here is not that busy pastors who are trying to do what they're called to, we're not saying do this alongside, we're actually saying, “No, don't do this alongside being a pastor, don't do this instead of being a pastor, do this because you're a pastor, because this is a real gift to pastoral ministry.”

Matt Cliff: And I think just to add to that, you would assume that the pastors have got some sort of strategy for evangelism, so say, “Look, don't see this as something outside of that.” Again, this issue will be a great evangelistic opportunity for us. I’m obviously in Australia at the moment, in Queensland, and it's just introduced the most liberal abortion law in the world, up to birth. And I can feel a lot of discouragement, but ultimately this is also a great opportunity for the Church to be the Church now, because the cliche the deeper the darkness, the greater the light. And it's a great opportunity. And so I just want to encourage pastors to think about how can I speak on this issue, when can I speak on this issue?

Dave Brennan: Brilliant. Matt, thank you so much. I've really enjoyed this conversation. And for those listening, especially church leaders, please do be in touch if there's any way we can help you, encourage you, if you're looking for resources, speakers, we've got speakers dotted around the UK. We've even got one in Australia, so do be in touch. We really mean that. We're available and we just want to be a blessing. We want to serve the local church. And if you've been appreciating these, please do share them. If your church isn't yet speaking about this issue, why not pop this in a note to your pastor or to others in your church and see what happens?

Let's try and help churches across the UK to break the silence on this issue and speak out. Matt, are there any parting comments you want to make? Any final encouragements to any pastors out there or members of churches?

Matt Cliff: I think we haven't touched on the people in the pew as well. I think what I would say to you is, “Bear with your pastors. Be patient with them. Encourage them.” Because I know they will have an issue thrown on their desk probably once every two days. Love them. Again, pray for them, and if you want to get your pastor to talk on this issue, invite him for a coffee out, or take him for a cup of tea. Talk about your heart to him and ask him, “Have you thought about this issue? Where are you at with this issue?” The presumption is that pastors know everything, but that's not generally the case. And hopefully you've got one humble enough to say, “Here's where I'm at on the issue.”

Dave Brennan: Brilliant. Thank you so much, Matt. Really appreciate your time with us. Do share this and we'll see you next week as we’re really coming towards the end now of this phase of analysis, and very soon we're going to be focusing much more on equipping: how can we be those effective voices for the voices that we need to be?

Stay tuned for that. Thank you so much for listening in.


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