Effective sidewalk counseling will often times utilize many different tools. These tools help us to reach those going to the abortion centers. Pro-Life signs can be a powerful way to convey truth to an abortion determined woman. Of course, with everything, there is that which is effective and that which really doesn’t work. Do your best to try and see from the perspective of a woman going to an abortion center. If she is driving to the abortion clinic and is bombarded by multiple signs with many different messages, she’s likely to miss the thoughts that are being displayed.
So simple, pointed messages are the best in my opinion. Complex thoughts, though important, are not really going to reach abortion determined women. She is really only going to get a glimpse of the sign. If she has to take several seconds to process the message she’s less likely to be impacted by it. Below are some messages we’ve found to be useful in reaching women at an abortion center.
“Your baby is a Gift”
“Free resources, Stop for Help”
“Your Baby has a Heartbeat”
“Protect Your Baby”
“God Loves You and Your Baby”
I’m sure you get the point. These are short simple messages. These phrases go right along the lines of the points we mention in our “3 Talking Points For Sidewalk Counseling” article. Signage can touch on all three of those points.
A question I get a lot from people new to sidewalk counseling is, “Do you guys hold up pictures of dead babies?”. Understandably, graphic depictions of abortion are troubling. They’re sort of supposed to be. Locally we do use images of victims of abortion because we know they change minds. We don’t use them all the time and when we do we try to place them as far away from areas of interaction as possible. We’ve noticed that graphic images cause interactions with people going to the abortion center to be more hostile. We also make sure there’s a visual balance to what we display. So if we have a picture of an aborted baby we also want to display a picture of a baby that was saved from abortion.
Whether or not to use graphic images is entirely between you and the Lord. While I believe it is absolutely Biblical to use graphic images, I don’t think it is unbiblical to not use them (hope that makes sense). As a matter of fact, Jesus dying on the cross, naked and bleeding for all to see is the most graphic image of all. It was a “graphic sign” but it was God-ordained.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Along with the theme of the last section, images do convey truths in a convincing way. Certainly, victim images show the horror of abortion. Beyond abortion think about how images are used to show other travesties in human history. Think of images of the holocaust and slavery. Those images changed the hearts and minds of millions of people.
God made human beings as visual creatures. The advertising industry certainly takes advantage of that every day. Looking at this Biblically we see all throughout the Bible how God uses imagery to speak His truth to people. The Old Testament prophets were told to show the people their sin and coming judge through imagery. In Ezekiel 4 Ezekiel was told to act out the siege of Jerusalem using bricks and an iron griddle as a warning to the people. There are many other examples of images, positive and negative, that the Lord uses in the Bible.
Images can portray warnings but they also can communicate positive messages. We use Pro-Life signs in our ministry with pictures of moms who chose life holding their babies. We want women coming to the abortion center to see that they can have the same outcome as those moms. These pictures can put forth a sense of hope and awaken the motherly instincts in her heart.
Signs are Helpful for Family Ministry
I know some people think that the sidewalk in front of an abortion center is no place for a child. While I understand the concern, I disagree. There are risks involved in bringing your family to minister at an abortion center, but there are risks in almost anything we do. Teaching our children to sacrificially serve others is what we are called to do as Christian parents. What better way to do that than to bring them with you to serve at the abortion center? (In a future article we will deal with family ministry at an abortion center but we’ll just focus on Pro-Life signs in this one.)
It may be hard to imagine what a child can do to be a witness at an abortion center. Pro-life signs are a way to have your kids involved in saving lives. Many of my kids have been raised going out to the local abortion clinic and holding signs. My 8-year-old daughter begs for me to take her with me at 6:30 am on Saturday morning so she can hold a sign at the abortion center. If you have a rather large family like I do you can have your children take turns holding a sign. Again, signs are a powerful tool and they are a tool anyone can use to save lives.
Sign Holding Principles
While holding a sign is so easy a child can do it there are some general principles that will help you be more effective in hold pro-life signs at an abortion center. Depending on local laws and ordinances you may be able to prop signs against a tree or power pole but holding them is always better.
There are businesses that literally pay someone $8 or more an hour to hold a sign. Locally, there’s a furniture company that pays a guy to hold a sign on the main road. They do this because they know that if a person is holding the sign, people are more likely to engage with the message. This is also true at an abortion center. Propping the sign up may be easier but a person holding it is always more effective.
Smiling and making eye contact is important. The love of Jesus shining forth on your face is reason enough for a mom going to an abortion center to take a long hard look at your sign. Waving is also helpful. The more attention you draw the more likely people are to look at your sign.
A few final thoughts
There’s an age-old mentality that more is better. In my experience with using pro-life signs at an abortion center, this isn’t necessarily the case. Think about it, if you drive into an area with visuals coming at you from all angles, all trying to convey a different message, you are likely to tune it out. On the other hand, if signs are placed thoughtfully and strategically their message is more likely to have an impact.
Another thing to consider is placing your signs too close to the driveway of the abortion center. Your pro-life signs can sometimes be an indicator of where the abortion center driveway is. Here in Charlotte, and I’ve observed this at other abortion clinics, many patients will miss the driveway, confused where to pull in. There are many reasons for this, one being that they are under a lot of anxiety and fear, but you don’t want to be responsible for making it clear where the driveway is. The more they miss the driveway, the more opportunities you have to engage with them. So placement is important.
In our printable resources section, we have made the files available for the signs that we use locally. Please feel free to download these files and take them to your local print shop. You can print them on whatever material you want but we have found 1/2′ thick coroplast to be the best material for us. It’s a little more expensive but it will last much longer than other materials.