FAQs Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is sidewalk advocacy?

Sidewalk Advocacy refers to crisis intervention in front of the abortion center. It involves actively encouraging a woman to choose life, empowering her to leave the abortion center, and ministering to all present to bring about a conversion of heart from a culture of death to a culture of life, thereby ending abortion.

Traditionally known as “sidewalk counseling,” sidewalk advocacy is a re-branded term that emphasizes the peaceful, prayerful, law-abiding methods of this ministry with love as its centerpiece.

2. Does sidewalk advocacy really make any difference at the abortion center?

In short – ABSOLUTELY! Our team has extensive experience in sidewalk advocacy, offering loving alternatives to people entering the abortion center, in a variety of scenarios. We have seen abundant miracles when people show up to pray and peacefully reach out to those going into the abortion center. Many of us have kept in touch with mothers we have served, and some of us have actually met the children who have been saved by God’s grace!

Quite often, the only thing a woman in an unplanned pregnancy needs to here is, “We’re here to help you.” If you can meet the need that brought that woman to the abortion facility, many times, the child will come right along with her, so to speak. We boil everything down to a simple, 5-point method, featured in our training to serve as a guidepost (though we know that every conversation will be different).

After peaceful intervention on the sidewalk, we offer to meet her at the local pregnancy center so she can receive ongoing crisis management and be surrounded with a community that will love and support her as she continues her pregnancy and prepares for the birth of her child. Similarly, many pregnancy centers and other local programs continue to walk with her and offer support, well after birth.

Are there people who refuse to take your offer of help? Absolutely. But we believe that it still makes a difference that we are there to pray for those families and stand for preborn children and our community.

3. What sidewalk counseling/advocacy method do you use?

Looking across the country, there are a handful of prevalent methods that have proved very effective. We are incredibly grateful for all those who have helped to develop modern, peaceful sidewalk counseling methodology. Studying these methods, the main thing that they all hold in common is this: reach her heart, and help fill the need(s) that brought her (and others with her) to the abortion facility. Thus, we take a very woman-oriented approach to sidewalk advocacy, believing that we cannot save preborn children without also helping their mothers and families.

Sidewalk Advocates for Life offers two levels of training: first, we offer a small training manual (about 30 pages) that details how to set up the program with a small team in your local community and facilitate a sidewalk advocacy training; second, we offer a 4-5 hour training DVD that can be shown in a church room or other venue to train interested sidewalk advocates in your community.

Additionally, our training is very comprehensive – meaning, we discuss how to serve at the abortion center in a variety of scenarios. For example, we equip the sidewalk advocate to reach out to those who might be entering the abortion or abortion-referral facility for services other than abortion, admonishing them to think about where their money is going; then, we teach them to fill that need with another local resource that doesn’t support the abortion business. We also equip sidewalk advocates to serve in unusual situations, such as when the mother says she was raped or her life is in danger; similarly, we equip those in our program to reach out to abortion workers and post-abortive women. We provide a variety of real-life examples in the training, and of course, we offer ongoing, full time, staff support so you can be as effective as possible.

To summarize, we cover the following topics in the DVD training…

  • Mission & Philosophy
  • Foundations for Counseling
  • Materials
  • How to Help an Abortion-Minded Woman
  • How to Help Abortion-Minded Family & Friends
  • How to Help in Difficult Abortion Situations (i.e. – rape, life of the mother, etc.)
  • How to Help in Non-Abortion Situations (i.e. – pregnancy test, well-woman exam, etc.)
  • How to Help Post-Abortive Women
  • How to Help Abortion Workers

4. Do I need to break the law?

TWO WORDS… NO WAY!

We find that the most effective way to reach a woman’s heart is to be peaceful, prayerful and law-abiding, literally loving her into another place. We don’t want that woman to just ‘not choose abortion,’ but we want to plant seeds for a real change of heart that is lasting and impacts her forever. If that woman doesn’t trust you in the short time that you have with her, she will often run the other direction… right into the abortion facility! Your goal is to win people over so that they will be open to your message. Abortion is always a tragedy, but the way in which we deliver that message is incredibly important, lest we lose hearts along the way.

Are there times that you might need to say ‘tougher things’ to explain the reality of abortion? Yes. There are often people that don’t understand the gravity of what they’re doing. Still, we can be firm and bold without patronizing someone and again, ultimately losing their listening ear.

Our goal is ALWAYS to be an example in the way that we conduct ourselves on the sidewalk. This peaceful method has documented thousands of lives saved and eternal souls impacted over the past several years on the sidewalk.

5. As a sidewalk advocate, am I required to be on the sidewalk available to talk with women a certain number of hours?

No, Sidewalk Advocates for Life recognizes that people are very busy. Your local sidewalk advocacy program leaders will schedule sidewalk advocates in front of the abortion facility depending on everyone’s schedule and availability.

Since there is no more important work than defending God’s children, any time that you can spend on the sidewalk utilizing the training that we provide and bearing witness to the dignity of every human life is vitally important and very much appreciated.

6. What do you mean you are ‘cross-denominational’?

One of our great passions is bringing together the Body of Christ across denominational lines to stand for the greatest gift we have apart from Christ Himself – that is, the gift of life. This isn’t a task for one church, one movement, one leader or even one ministry, but a universal call to “speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves” (cf. Proverbs 13:8-9) and to “defend those being led to the slaughter” (cf. Proverbs 24:11).

In the past several years, we have seen incredible growth in this area, as those who don’t always see eye-to-eye theologically are willing to stand arm-and-arm on the sidewalk to love our preborn brothers and sisters and their families. We believe that anytime we find ways to work together to save lives, it pleases Our Lord (cf. John 17).

We have carefully constructed the training to be compatible with Christian teaching and a Judeo-Christian ethic. This means that our spiritual advisors from various denominations (Catholic and Protestant) have let us know that they find there is nothing in the training that conflicts with Christian doctrine. Similarly, our staff and Board of Directors takes this very seriously, as we do not want to do anything to violate our faith and conscience. We constantly evaluate the program to be sure that we honor the Lord in everything that we do, and that our methods are welcoming to those from all different walks.

It is our hope and prayer that all Christians and those who choose to share in this mission will recognize the urgency of this call and respond generously in love.

7. Is there a fee to run the program in my local community?

Yes, there is a first-time application fee of $150 to run the program in your local community.
The fee covers the following for approved local communities…

  • a brief training manual (which describes how to set up a local training and sustain that program at a local abortion facility)
  • a training DVD (which teaches interested community members Sidewalk Advocacy)
  • a number of training workbooks (to guide the Sidewalk Advocacy training in the local community)
  • access to materials (flyer templates, press releases, bulletin announcements, literature options and other resources) in our Online Program Headquarters
  • access to ongoing training (training primers, role play, examples, etc.) in our Online Training Headquarters
  • a listing under the “Locations” tab of our national website (which includes a drop-down that shares local information so interested community members can find you)
  • regular Q&A calls with our National Team & Program Advisors
  • authorization to use our name, logo and program
  • access to national team members who work for and serve YOU so you can be successful

After the first three months of running the program, a local community may choose to renew their membership with Sidewalk Advocates for Life for either 3 months, 6 months or 1 year for ONLY $12.50/month to continue to receive our training, tools, technology and ongoing support! This includes access to ANY new training materials that we develop in the future (which, truly, we’re always developing!).

8. What if I want to be a sidewalk advocate, but don’t want to run the program in my local community?

No worries, you do not need to apply for the program. The application process is only for those who want to LEAD a program in their local community. After the application period has closed and approved local communities are listed on our website, you can look for the program that is closest to you and contact that group to let them know you’re interested in becoming a sidewalk advocate.

9. Does it take a lot of time to set-up a program in my local community?

While it may take some time to construct a team, hold regular meetings, recruit and schedule sidewalk advocates at the local abortion facility, and be available to speak for your local program, in short, we believe that anyone in any station in life (assuming they are an adult) can set up a sidewalk advocacy program in their local community.

For example, running a constant vigil in your local community may be a bit more time-consuming since your goal may be to a have a constant, unbroken chain of prayer at different times (though, no doubt the foundation of any sidewalk activity!), our goal is simply to start with one abortion facility and have two sidewalk advocates along with prayer partners present during every hour the abortion or abortion-referral facility is open (with the possibility that some may find it advantageous to arrive early or stay late to serve those entering/leaving the abortion center).

10. Can I run the program year-round?

In short… YES! We are a year-round program, if you choose!

A community interested in bringing the Sidewalk Advocates for Life Sidewalk Advocacy program to their local community will be invited to apply during a 4-week application period that begins eight weeks before each quarter. So, for example, we will be accepting applications during the months of February, May, August and November.

Applications may be filled out at www.sidewalkadvocates.org/apply.

Once approved, the local community will gain access to tools, training and technology provided by the Sidewalk Advocates for Life National Team in order to successfully set-up and run the program in their local community.

For example — for a first-time application fee of $150 — approved communities will receive the following…

  • a brief training manual (which describes how to set up a local training and sustain that program at a local abortion facility)
  • a training DVD (which teaches interested community members Sidewalk Advocacy)
  • a number of training workbooks (to guide the Sidewalk Advocacy training in the local community)
  • access to materials (flyer templates, press releases, bulletin announcements, literature options and other resources) in our Online Program Headquarters
  • access to ongoing training (training primers, role play, examples, etc.) in our Online Training Headquarters
  • a listing under the “Locations” tab of our national website (which includes a drop-down that shares local information so interested community members can find you)
  • regular Q&A calls with our National Team & Program Advisors
  • authorization to use our name, logo and program
  • access to national team members who work for and serve YOU so you can be successful

After the first three months of running the program, a local community may choose to renew their membership with Sidewalk Advocates for Life for either 3 months, 6 months or 1 year for ONLY $12.50/month to continue to receive our training, tools, technology and ongoing support! This includes access to ANY new training materials that we develop in the future (which, truly, we’re always developing!).

This enables a local community to run the program year-round in front of the abortion facility, while building in seasons for the recruitment and training of new Sidewalk Advocates. (Note that the local community always has the option to discontinue their membership, take time off and/or renew sometime in the future.)
Communities that renew their membership will be encouraged to hold a re-training every so often to invite new Sidewalk Advocates into their program. This ensures that local programs have regular opportunities for outreach and growth.

Note that communities that are only attached to a geographic area seasonally — such as a student or university group — may tailor the timeline to work for them. (Contact our team with any questions you may have!)

On the national level, the quarter timeline also sets up seasons, whereby the National Team can evaluate the success of the program and take applications at certain times of the year in order to focus on assistance in Sidewalk Advocacy the rest of the year. This also creates a sense of community because everyone will be “running together.”

11. What if I am a student and can’t run the program year-round?

Note that communities that are only attached to a geographic area seasonally (such as a student or university group) may tailor the timeline to work for them. Contact our team with any questions you may have.

12. What if there’s already sidewalk counseling in my local community? If I apply and receive approval to run the program in my local community, how do I choose which abortion centers to go to?

This will be part of your discernment process!

Our advice, first, is to see if there is any sidewalk counseling going on in your community. Get to know who the group is, when they are out there, and what their goals are. It could be that this program will work well with what they are already doing. However, it could be that you risk infringing on a well-established program that is already experiencing great success.

We admonish you to approach community leaders in humility, first, and brainstorm with them: where are there gaps in sidewalk counseling? Are there facilities that are uncovered? Is there a group that is having great success that already offers training?

It could be that one group covers one abortion facility well in your area, but there are other abortion and abortion-referral facilities that are uncovered – and that maybe the best place to start. In short, if you want to discuss possibilities, please contact us, and we’re happy to brainstorm with you!

At the end of the day, our prayer is that every abortion facility is covered by peaceful sidewalk counseling or advocacy, whether or not our program is the best fit for you.

13. Why use Sidewalk Advocates for Life …and not another local or national sidewalk counseling program?

Actually, we take the approach that any sidewalk counseling program which allows you to reach a woman’s heart, speak the truth-in-love and offer her life-affirming alternatives is a good program.

We are not competing with other programs, but simply, we are utilizing this new, national option to ‘fill in the gap’ in locations which need better infrastructure (tools, training, technology and ongoing staff support) in conducting a sidewalk advocacy program. If we can be a blessing to you, we are honored to serve you!

14. We’re already doing a vigil in front of the abortion facility – is this going to conflict with our present efforts?

No, our vision is that it will complement any peaceful, prayerful activity on the sidewalk. In fact, we have visited extensively with leaders who help others serve through prayer and outreach at the abortion facility, and they agree that this is not something that will thwart the success of current efforts.

Imagine that you have established a solid vigil or prayer presence in front of the abortion facility in your community – in other words, you have regular prayer volunteers coming to pray at the abortion center. While others are praying, those trained to be sidewalk advocates can peacefully and lovingly reach out to those entering the abortion facility. In fact, the sidewalk advocates can ask them for prayer, and the prayer volunteers can pray for every interaction from a small distance away. You see, the activity on the sidewalk is meant to complement and work well with any prayer presence.

However, your community must discern whether or not it is wise to have the same leaders who run a regular vigil also running the sidewalk counseling program in your local community. While it may easily work during non-campaign seasons, you’ll have to examine the overlap and then consult with trusted advisors about what is best for you, personally, and for each of these programs. We definitely don’t want any burned out leaders!

15. We’ve already been sidewalk counseling with another method – can we switch to your program?

In short, YES! If you’ve been sidewalk counseling regularly, you can apply for Sidewalk Advocates for Life sidewalk advocacy program. Many may want to make the jump in order to gain more tools, training, technology, ongoing staff support, and a nationwide sidewalk advocacy community across the country.

However – as stated above – if you are new to sidewalk counseling or there is another group already doing it in your local community, our advice is to get familiar with what’s already going on. Get to know who the group is, when they are out there, and what their goals are. It could be that this program will work well with what they are already doing. However, it could be that you risk infringing on a well-established program that is already experiencing great success.

We admonish you to approach community leaders in humility, first, and brainstorm with them: where are there gaps in sidewalk counseling? Are there facilities (including Planned Parenthood abortion-referral facilities) that are uncovered? Is there a group that is having great success that already offers training?

It could be that one group covers one abortion facility well in your area, but there are other abortion and abortion-referral facilities that are uncovered – and that maybe the best place to start. In short, if you want to discuss possibilities, please contact us, and we’re happy to brainstorm with you!

At the end of the day, our prayer is that every abortion facility is covered by peaceful sidewalk counseling or advocacy, whether or not our program is the best fit for you.

16. Can I run the program underneath an existing organization?

Absolutely! We intended our sidewalk advocacy program to be run as a program or project in a local community, not as a separate 501c3 organization. In fact, we ask local communities – as part of the application – to agree not to incorporate as a separate legal entity, so we don’t deal with legal messes later! You are welcome to run this program as volunteers, simply, in a local community, or to put this program under a right-to-life group, church, ministry, Diocese …any group that believes in the sanctity of human life and agrees to run the program according to guidelines set forth in the training.

Once approved to run the program in your local community, you can designate yourself as “Sidewalk Advocates (for Life)-(city/town name)” or “SAFL-(city/town name),” for example.

17. Can a National Team member come to my community and conduct the training in-person?

Possibly! While we know the DVD training and workbook will do a phenomenal job of training you and interested community members, one of our team members might be able to give the training in person to your local community. However, with multiple communities and limited staff (as our organization grows), there’s no guarantee that we can get to you as soon as you desire. If interested, please Contact Us, and – with our busy schedule – we thank you for your patience with us ahead of time!

18. Can a National Team member come to my community to speak at our pro-life event?

Possibly! If interested, please see Contact Us on this website, and – with our busy schedule – we thank you for your patience with us ahead of time!