“I don’t care how many people you have that run fast. If the baton doesn’t make it–the race is over.” – Jon Drummond, Olympic Relay Gold Medalist and Olympic Relay Coach1

Passing the Baton

The relay race is that track and field event in which athletes run a pre-set distance, carrying a baton before passing it onto the next runner. Among sporting events, the relay stands out as a reminder that it isn’t always the best runners who win. Rather, success is about running your portion of the race and then successfully handing your baton off to the next runner; that is, one of your partners.

When it comes to pregnancy centers partnering together with local churches for long-term discipleship, the relay race is a great analogy, as a skillful handoff between centers and churches is essential for success. Long-term discipleship requires that those who profess faith in Christ become part of a local church, defined biblically as “a group of believers banded together for worship, edification, service, fellowship, and outreach; accepting spiritual leadership; willing to minister to all segments of society through the various gifts in the body;” and regularly practicing the sacraments.”2

If connecting a pregnancy center’s clients with a local church is like passing a baton to the next runner, then how do you actually do this? To bring in another analogy, if pregnancy centers are domestic missions agencies sent, commissioned, and supported by local churches, then what does it look like for them to connect clients back to the local church for discipleship? In other words, what is the best way to connect women and men coming through your center with a loving, grace-based church? And further, how do you make discipleship connections in a way that respects client confidentiality and appropriately manages risk for the center?

If long-term discipleship is to happen, clients must be connected with a local church.

In our eBook “Best Practices for Connecting Center Clients with Local Church Discipleship,” ministry leaders in the church and pregnancy center leadership can understand together how this aspect of partnership can be accomplished. As in a relay race, both runners need to understand, train, and practice good handoffs to ensure the ultimate race – seeing lives transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ and discipleship – is won!

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  1. Accessed at http://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/07/23/sports/olympics/the-fastest-baton-to-the-finish-line.html?hp
  2. This definition is adapted from one given by David Dockery, President of Trinity International University.