Talking About Difficult Topics (Like Abortion) in Student Ministry

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My role as a Student Pastor places me right in the heart of a traditional corner of our country, in a staunchly Southern Baptist Church, surrounded by parents deeply rooted in conservative values. This church and community stand arm-in-arm on numerous pro-life platforms. Yet, the week Roe v. Wade was overturned, I was taken aback to find a flurry of distressed and fiery posts from my students on Instagram and TikTok. “Reproductive freedom lost!” they exclaimed, expressing outrage over perceived “women’s rights” being stripped away. These are the same students who, in many ways, exemplify theological conservatism, fervently exalting Christ in their lives.

So, why the surprise reaction? The core issue here is the vacuum left by a lack of intentional discipleship within the church—a void that is promptly filled by the relentless discipleship of social media and secular culture. As those called to disciple and care for these students, we cannot shy away from plunging into these complex discussions, especially when it comes to controversial subjects like abortion. We might be tempted to sidestep such hot topics, but that would do our students a disservice. The reality is, there are plenty of voices already attempting to influence our students on these matters.

Let’s be clear here, opening up the floor to discuss abortion within the church isn’t about getting entangled in the thicket of politics. It’s about honoring God’s Word and earnestly seeking the truth. As we venture into these complex conversations, we need to be guided by three pivotal principles: to expose, equip, and encourage.


First, it’s incumbent upon us, as laid out in Ephesians 5:11, to bring to light the pernicious philosophies rampant in our society today. The scripture says, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” We must be able to discern abortion as one of the damaging ideologies that have insidiously crept into our society. The Bible’s stance on the sanctity of life is unambiguous, and we, as disciples of Christ, are called to echo this reverence for life. It becomes our duty to uncover the wickedness of sin with God’s word so that students may see the ugliness of abortion for what it is. The term ‘expose’ might seem severe, but when it comes to combating such harmful evils, it’s the precise action scripture calls us to take. To expose these works, we must be willing to talk about them.


It’s our mission to give our students the intellectual tools to critically approach the issue of abortion and identify its contrast with God’s word. As per 2 Corinthians 10:5, we ought to be equipped to stand up to any ideology or belief system that undermines the commands of Christ. In this vein, it becomes pivotal to help students recognize that life comes into existence at conception, both from biblical and scientific perspectives.

Through a biblical lens, Genesis 1:26-27 proclaims that humans are crafted in the likeness of God. As a result, each human life, from the very instant of conception, embodies an inherent dignity and worth bestowed by God.

Viewing it from a scientific standpoint, life’s genesis is identified at conception when the woman’s egg and the man’s sperm chromosomes unite. This genetically distinct human being boasts its unique DNA, fingerprints, and capacity to sense pain, thereby self-evidently showing its individuality.

Our students must grapple with these facts and are provided the intellectual tools to think about them. It’s all too common for them to only hear one side of the narrative, leaving them unequipped to think critically about the Biblical and scientific evidence that is staunchly pro-life.

Additionally, while advocating for the Biblical stance, our students should be equipped to tackle the common counterarguments against the pro-life standpoint. There’s a prevalent claim that pro-life proponents are merely pro-birth, overlooking the needs of children post-birth. However, stats showcase that Christians adopt at a rate three times greater than the rest of the population and operate the majority of Crisis Pregnancy Centers in America. Equip them by helping students get involved in Christ-Centered crisis pregnancy centers in your city. One likely exists!

There are further objections centered on women’s bodily autonomy, the baby’s viability, and exceptions like rape, incest, or threats to the mother’s life. In counter-argument, we should bear in mind that the unborn child has its own body with its rights, that reliance does not strip away personhood, and that unfortunate circumstances do not diminish the value of the new life conceived.

Lastly, it’s crucial to equip students to understand that the movement against abortion is not about control but about safeguarding the most vulnerable. The prime objective should be to render abortion unthinkable, not merely illegal. As a collective, we should channel our efforts towards addressing social challenges such as poverty and fatherlessness that frequently drive women to contemplate abortions.


Lastly, our role should also offer gospel encouragement. If an individual has experienced the impact of abortion, either directly or indirectly, it’s upon us to extend the grace and love of Jesus. As assured by Matthew 11:28, Christ stands ready to offer rest to those who are weary and laden with burdens. His grace covers all, without regard to past deeds or choices, by faith in Jesus alone. In a world that accuses our stance of being hateful, we must underscore that we are, in fact, the most loving, the most encouraging, and the most compassionate because of the Christ we follow.

Finally, in our dialogues about abortion, we must assist our students in not losing sight of the transformative power of the Gospel. None is beyond the reach of God’s grace, and the Gospel remains good news for all, encompassing those who have experienced abortion. The Gospel’s message stands as one of self-sacrifice and love, a stark counterpoint to the self-centered nature of the pro-choice ideology.

To conclude, as leaders in student ministry, we bear a duty to fearlessly confront challenging subjects like abortion—our students and future generations depend on it.

Will Standridge (MDiv, Southern Seminary) serves as the preteen and student pastor at Paramount Baptist Church in Amarillo, Texas. Will blogs frequently about student ministry philosophy. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Kendyl.

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