Displaying items by tag: men in leadership

Help Wanted: Men in the Movement

by Mark McDougal, Development Director of Ruth Harbor MinistriesMen Make an Impact

What would motivate a man to participate in the pregnancy help movement? What would motivate women to ask or encourage men to get involved?

Consider two key reasons and a few practical thoughts.

1. To Steward His Gifts

God uniquely designed us on purpose, male and female, to accomplish His purposes and the work we were called to complete (Genesis 1:27, 2:18-23). There are certainly circumstances, conversations, and tasks that are better suited for one gender over the other, but the work of the pregnancy help ministry is enormous! Thankfully, the body of Christ is diverse, and each individual is gifted to accomplish God’s work (1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12:4-6a). We can have success utilizing less than our full potential, but why not take advantage of the entire body of Christ—His original design—when it is available to us? For instance, most single moms would suggest that parenting is more manageable and generally more successful when a dad is positively participating in their child’s life.

Biblically, the Lord has given men the role and responsibility of protection and covering for the family unit (1 Peter 3:7). The impact of a male presence should not be overlooked or underestimated. The presence of men can give a sense of safety, care, or protection. Though not exclusive to males, men make great coaches, consultants, mentors, and advisors. They round out, bring diversity, and give perspective in decision-making and to leadership staff or board.

2. To Model God’s Design

When we live out our ministry, our work, or our board life utilizing God’s design, we testify or model that design. It may seem passive, but it is an effective form of discipleship and an example for others. And since we care for more than just a decision for life, clients should see mature Christian men and how they interact with women with whom they are not romantically involved.

Many women (and men) we serve have never experienced interactions with a male who honored them, set good boundaries, and honored the Lord. This is not just an introduction to a broader view of men, but an opportunity to help female and male clients see themselves the way their heavenly Father sees them: cherished, loved, accepted, and valued. On more than one occasion, new moms impacted by our ministry have said, “I want to find a husband like ______.” (Insert name of male staff member)

Male team members can have this impact, and female staff members who are married can also encourage their husbands to be around and volunteer in appropriate ways.

Over time, affirming and healthy relationships between men—individually or as a couple/family—often yield a very positive impact; even from short encounters such as helping deliver furniture, assisting in purchasing a vehicle, taking them to church, cooking a meal, job coaching, and discussing finances, maintenance, or repairs. As we “do life” and interact with clients, they observe our interactions and relationships and begin to make comments about how it is different than what they have experienced in the past. Voila! An open door to share God's redemptive story and how it can lead them to choose something different for their future!

When a woman in trauma or abuse is experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, seeing a godly, Christian man walk out his faith, and show love and affection for his wife (and children), while biblically serving vulnerable pregnant women and their children, can be life-changing and healing for her. It's supernatural and beautiful!

And finally, a few practical thoughts:

  • There are certainly some client conversations/activities that should come from women. However, if we wish to reach men, we specifically need male volunteers and staff for some conversations/activities.
  • When I hear “men should rise up and participate,” most often it’s voiced by women.
  • Men need to be invited to participate in the pregnancy help movement, by women AND by other men.
  • Men can encourage and challenge other men in ways women can't, by encouraging them to step up to their responsibility as fathers, boyfriends, husbands, or leaders. Men can get other men involved in the movement by encouraging them to use their gifts or finances to make a difference.
  • To quote some female colleagues in the pregnancy help movement, “We tend to fight less with each other when men are present.”

If you are a man who serves in pregnancy help, thank you for your commitment and impact! I encourage you to invite a male friend to your center to see the invaluable work you do.

If you are a woman who serves in pregnancy help, thank you for exercising your spiritual gifts for life! I encourage you to invite a man in your life to your center to share about the impact men can (and do) make in the pro-life movement.


Mark McDougal served Ruth Harbor Ministries in Iowa as Executive Director for over 20 years as well as the leadership teams of Heartbeat’s Maternity Housing Coalition (MHC) and National Christian Housing Conference (NCHC). He has hired male staff team members, and couples as house parents, and typically has 50% or more male board members. He recently took a new role in their ministry as Development Director to make more time for family and consulting with other maternity homes and pregnancy centers. Contact Mark by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Men in Pregnancy Help Leadership

by Jor-El Godsey, President of Heartbeat InternationalMen in Pregnancy Help Leadership

About a month into my new role as the Executive Director in my new state of Colorado, I traveled to a retreat center, Young Life Camp, nestled in the foothills at 14,204 ft., Mt. Princeton. I was there for the weekend to participate in my first-ever Rocky Mountain Counselors Conference.

Fish Out of Water

The session opened and soon we were in a time of praise and worship. I scanned the crowd, more than 180 strong, only to realize that I was the only man in the room (no disrespect, but I’m not including the worship pastor and the drummer on the dais). The phrase “fish out of water” might’ve come to mind. The year was 1999. (Okay, stop snickering, I know that was the last century, er, even the last millennium.)

The Imbalance in Pregnancy Help

Fortunately, the ratio has improved since then. I mean, how could it not improve on 0.005%?! Every year, the number of men, as a percentage of the women, at our annual Heartbeat International Pregnancy Help Conference has grown to roughly 15%. (And, no, that count still doesn’t include the worship leader, drummer, or any of the guys with the worship band.)

Yet, the number of men in leadership in pregnancy help is still a relatively small percentage. Because abortion is a woman’s issue, right? At least that’s what is conveyed by our culture when the acceptable answer the man may give in response to her pregnancy is, “I’ll support whatever you want to do.” Or, worse, when rabid pro-abortion feminists shout, “No uterus, no opinion!”

However, abortion has never been that simple. Especially when you realize abortion was made legal in the U.S. by a dozen or so male governors (1967-1971), then by seven male Supreme Court justices with the Roe v. Wade ruling. Men and women are among every part of this issue.

From the Beginning

Even from the earliest days of the pregnancy help movement, men have been deeply involved. Indeed, one of Heartbeat’s founders was Dr. John Hillabrand, an obstetrician and gynecologist in a solo practice in Toledo, Ohio for whom “healing was both a physical and a spiritual calling.” (Hartshorn & Godsey, n.d., p. 43). There were many male physicians – in the 1960s, greater than 90% of OBs were male – along with the many female nurses who were encountering and ministering life, to the women and couples who were presented with an unintended and seemingly ill-timed pregnancy.  

Since those days, men have even been key leaders in local pregnancy help organizations. Some for two or more decades: Dave (Arizona), Bob (Alabama), Larry (Oregon), Jim (Michigan), Sol (Florida), Patrick (Georgia), Raul (Colorado), and many more. Some of these men are still active in our movement today, along with more recent leaders like Andrew (Tennessee), Aaron (Texas), Josh (California), Mike (New Hampshire), Rich (Colorado), and Toby (Virginia).

Two Things For Men to Be Well-Equipped to Take the Reins

There are two things that should be in place for a man to be well-equipped to take the reins of a pregnancy help organization.

#1: He has a healthy understanding of men’s roles in abortion and the issue of abortion. Too often women are at-risk for abortion because of the men involved in the pregnancy. These men may have abandoned her to decide on her own, lending her no support. Or they may be actively pressuring her to abort for their own, selfish reasons. The prevalence of men like these could easily lead to making men “the problem.” Yet, a realistic glimpse into these circumstances shows that such actions arise more from selfishness and are not exclusive to any biological sex. Men can and should be part of the answer in a life decision.

#2: It takes a good cast of supporting women for a man to lead within a pregnancy help organization. The heart of pregnancy help is loving and supporting a woman in her pregnancy. Women are especially gifted in this area. Having women in key client leadership, among the many other possibilities, is a must to maximize what men can bring to a leadership role.

When inviting men into leadership, some policy and budget considerations are involved. (No, I’m not talking about the toilet seat position in the staff bathroom.) Some considerations include:

  • When men and women serve together, it’s important to have protective guidelines about counseling and ministry interactions in place.
  • Travel expenses might increase a bit when room-sharing is not appropriate.
    • Although, having a man with "handyman abilities" around regularly may help offset those costs. (Unless it becomes necessary to hire a licensed professional.)

At Heartbeat, we firmly believe we are “better together.” This includes having men, along with women, in leadership roles across the movement. The winning formula for achieving a true culture of life is when both women and men are actively speaking about life as well as serving and championing the Gift of Life.



Hartshorn, Dr. P., & Godsey, J.-E. (n.d.). The Power of Pregnancy Help (p. 43). Heartbeat International, Inc. https://www.heartbeatservices.org/resources/resources-by-topic/networking/the-power-of-pregnancy-help