The most important criteria for effective sidewalk outreach is that the team shows up. When a Christian witness is on the sidewalk of an abortion center, the no-show rate of abortion increases, and the likelihood of babies being saved increases. Even if neither of those were true, when the Christian witness shows up, the unborn child is valued and should he die, he is mourned. One way to think of it is someone has cared enough to show up at his funeral.
Our Words Vs. Scripture
However, there are many tools that can increase our effectiveness, and we should always avail ourselves of them all. Being prepared, and considering the situations we will face as well as a response is always useful. it is important to know that our words are never going to be as effective as the conviction of scripture. Therefore, we can never neglect scripture, and it is very valuable to know how to use scripture effectively.
Tension between Truth and Drawing Them To Trust Us
Another important aspect of Sidewalk outreach is to be aware that there will always be a tension between saving a baby’s life, and the need to present truth that feels confrontational to the woman. We want her to come and talk with us and feel safe in doing so. There is always the balance of compassion and kindness with the need to speak biblical truth.
Rejection is Likely
It is easy to feel that we have failed if they reject our message. Please understand that it is not you. They are not rejecting us, but God. When someone is steeped in sin and blinded to the fact that she is rationalizing sin, it is easier to blame the messenger, then to be convicted by truth.
Knowing that we should, of course, do our best not to be offensive. However, we do also need to understand that the gospel offends those blinded by sin.
How to Help Use Scripture Effectively
So, one of the things that I counsel Sidewalk Outreach teams to do whenever possible is to use scripture to convict as opposed to your words of what is happening there. For example, rather than saying “A mother should never kill her own child,” it might be more effective to say “Do you know the sixth commandment? Thou shall not murder. What do you think God would have you do at this place?”
Helpful Tool to Use Scripture in Specific Situations
One of the tools I have often used is to have a Bible specific for the abortion center with color coded tabs of the major issues that come up repeatedly. I do have some scripture memorized in the specific areas I know I am likely to face on the sidewalk, but my memory often fails me. This Bible with color coded tabs has helped me challenge women in a way that shows them it is not MY opinion but God’s opinion. My opinion will likely just anger them and be dismissed. God’s word may still anger them, but it is the power to convict and to save.
For example, I am constantly being told that God understands and thus it is ok to kill their baby. He will forgive them.
I have several tabs of highlighted scripture about what true repentance means, God’s wrath, what it means if Jesus is Lord, works reflect faith…etc. I can quickly flip to the appropriate scripture.
I have a tab for Convicting Scripture which I use when I face hardened hearts that have not responded to gentler persuasion regarding God’s love of the unborn, resources, and the humanity of the baby.
One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 10;26 in this category:
“For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.”Hebrews 10:26-27 NKJV
I turn to the appropriate scripture, ask them to read it if they are willing, and then ask them what they think this means. This is a non-confrontational approach that I have found to be very effective.
Some Suggested Areas to Tab
The tabs I have in my Bible are not necessarily the tabs someone else may want. However, my list may help someone as they begin to gather favorite scripture to use on the sidewalk.
In no special order, these are my color coded tabs:
- My body, my choice
- Sexual Purity
- Sanctity of Life
- Convicting verses
- Taking action to reflect faith
If Salvation tab is green, I use a green tab on every page where a salvation verse I want to reference can be found. Then I use a green highlighter to highlight that verse on the page so that I can easily find it when I go to the green tab. I have about ten different tab and highlighter colors so I have approximately ten tabs.
I want to be ready for any situation I might face. I also have found this the easiest way to deal with the tension of earning a woman’s trust while sharing truth in the least confrontational manner. It took me a long time to develop my tabulated Bible, but it is worth the time investment.
“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”II Timothy 4:2 NKJV