May 22, 2015

Ever since it was founded, Lutherans For Life (LFL) has received financial support from pro-life Lutheran congregations. In fact, LFL would not exist nationally without the cash donations, gifts, offerings, grants, etc. that our churches provide. May God be praised! Still, in any calendar year, only about four percent of Lutheran congregations send gifts to LFL. That means ninety-six percent do not—or about 19 out of 20 churches nationally.

Now, some churches rotate their mission giving each year, and therefore may support another ministry this year and LFL in the next. Likewise, many congregations support local LFL chapters and federations and not LFL nationally (at least on an annual basis). Others still support a local crisis pregnancy center, etc. in lieu of making a gift to LFL.

While all of these ways are fine when it comes to helping affirm life, LFL national really needs all the support it can get from Lutheran congregations.

Why is this? For three main reasons:

First of all, LFL is the only national ministry which is solely dedicated to providing life issue advocacy, educational conferences, training, speakers, and resource materials (such as Bible studies, brochures, booklets, DVDs and videos, a quarterly journal, and Life Sunday materials, etc.) from a Lutheran perspective. LFL makes these available for all Lutheran congregations, schools, LFL state federations, local chapters, Life Teams, and individuals and households. Of course, we can only wonder just what the status of life-affirmation would be in our Lutheran community if LFL did not exist. Fortunately, LFL does most certainly exist, and this has been made possible by the gift support provided by churches and other committed friends.

Second, LFL has found itself facing a new funding challenge since early last year which was totally unexpected. Namely, Thrivent Financial announced in early 2014 that it would no longer allow members to direct their choice dollars to LFL. This is per a new policy that they wanted to take a “neutral” position on pro-life/“pro-choice” advocacy groups. In 2014, that meant that LFL would have to forgo at least $30,000 from Thrivent members (based on 2013 receipts) and possibly as much as $70,000 collectively via other sources (e.g., Thrivent monies sent to local churches and chapters and then forwarded to LFL).

Fortunately, many churches directed rotating and special offerings to LFL in 2014. For the most part, therefore, we were able to make up the difference. (And if your church is one who did this, many thanks and may God bless you!) While we hope many of these congregations will help LFL again in 2015, some will not because of other obligations. So, we are asking other churches to step forward this year and help us with a gift, offering, etc.

Last but not least, we know the “other side” both receives and relies on ample financial support from sympathetic churches and religious entities. A good example of this occurred in early 2014 when Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas donated $443,750 to Planned Parenthood Trust of South Texas. Many members of the clergy also serve on Planned Parenthood boards across the country. While no specific figures are available, it is likely that funding received by them from religious groups is in the seven-figures range or higher. This leads us to a question.

How can your congregation help LFL if it is not already doing so?

One way would be to include LFL in the church budget, either for a fixed dollar amount (at any level) or a percentage of overall receipts for the year. If you are on a fiscal year that runs from July-June, now would be a good time to consider this. If you are on a calendar year, you can do this when you draw up your 2016 budget.

A second way would be to designate a regular “rotating” offering done at the church for LFL. For example, if your church designates Advent offerings for specific ministries, LFL could be included on the list. Some churches collect offerings for third parties on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, such as on “5th Sundays,” selected holidays or special services (e.g., Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, Good Friday), etc.

Last but not least, many congregations have been collecting special door or plate offerings on an otherwise undesignated Sunday for LFL (especially in lieu of the Thrivent decision).

If your church is currently part of the “96%” and would be open to helping LFL, we can assist you in the process. We can send you a letter that works well in making a request to congregational leaders. We can also send you a customizable sample bulletin insert and other helpful materials. Please contact me at 512.468.9777 or if we can assist you in this way.

In 2015, we hope that ten percent of Lutheran congregations will stand up for life and make a financial gift to LFL. Our gratitude in Christ for your consideration, prayers, and support in this special way.

Please note this article is not intended as legal or financial advice. For assistance in specific cases, you are encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional advisors.