• (Scroll Down for Descriptions)
  • (Note: IR signifies JFA Impact Reports, which are edited or written by Steve with other authors noted)
  • * signifies that this letter includes excerpted dialogue from an actual conversation
  • ** signifies that this letter gives a detailed description of an actual conversation








2002-2008 (at Stand to Reason)

Selected Newsletter Descriptions

July 2013: A Good Conversation Is…a Mirror

Nov/Dec 2013: A Good Conversation Is…a Window

In March of 2013, I had a remarkable exchange with a very open-minded student at the University of Texas at San Antonio.  This pair of newsletters described the turns in the conversation that led him to change his mind…more than once.

December 2012: Presence: The Best Presents Don’t Come in Packages

There’s one distraction that’s even more menacing to relationships than cell phones or computers. To find out what it is, along with my tips for giving the people you care about the best presence of all, read my Christmas letter. I guarantee it won’t distract you for more than 5 minutes!

October 2012: Yes=No

I talked with two sisters at the University of Kansas who were on opposite sides of the abortion question.  Or were they?

June 2012: Bryndan Gets the Picture

Earlier in 2012, I spoke with Bryndan at Fresno City College.  He changed his mind about abortion in the case of rape within a matter of moments.  This newsletter describes how.

August 2012: Our Interns Don’t Make Coffee

If they don’t make coffee, what do they do?  Click the link to find out!

Christmas 2011: Messing with the Pageant: Is Imogene Worth It?

Should church music directors let foulmouthed, cigar-smoking teens play the lead roles in this year’s Christmas pageant? My Christmas 2011 newsletter describes why my answer is “Yes” and what important aspect of JFA’s work just such a pageant mirrors.

November 2011: Reveal the Mystery Picture

October 2011: Let Them Feel Guilty – Unexpected Help for the Hurting

April/May 2009: Don’t Judge a Book – A Classic Phrase Proves True at the Free Speech Board

Have you ever had an opportunity to engage in dialogue on abortion but convinced yourself it was a bad idea? Did you wait so long that the opportunity evaporated? In my April/May 09 newsletter, I share about a conversation I had with “Eva” at a Colorado university. It was almost a disaster because it almost didn’t happen. Fortunately, God helped me overlook my pre-judgments and self-centeredness so that I could focus on Eva’s needs. Want three tips for making sure you don’t experience the disaster of a missed opportunity? Read on!

March 2009: “I Get You” or “Gotcha”?

In debate on tough topics like abortion, many of us look for the witty retort that shuts down a foolish argument in just a few words. We love to hear the “gotcha” moment (if it’s coming from our side), and we love to deliver it. Is it the highest goal for every conversation, though? In my March newsletter, I share about another kind of moment that’s even more useful in every day conversation: “I get you.” I also share which to seek after when. If you ever talk to anybody about anything, you’ll find the guidelines I share here helpful. It takes less than five minutes to read!

December 2008: Five Loaves and Two Fish: Why I’ve Decided to Take a New Job

Andrew offered a few small lunch items and Jesus made a meal for 5,000. In this newsletter, Steve shares about the small gift he’s offering Jesus with the prayer that Jesus will use it to multiply full-time pro-life workers across North America. What kind of pro-life workers? Those who will use common ground, intelligent arguments, and good ambassador skills to radically alter a culture that’s increasingly tolerant of abortion. Steve’s small gift involves a move to a new organization in January 2009, so this is Steve’s final newsletter with STR. Read on for the whole story!

November 2008: Seven Years: A Few Highlights

Elections are like action movies. They pump adrenaline into issues like abortion, but the effect is short-lived. Afterwards many are left saying, “Why did I get myself all worked up?” In this newsletter, Steve shares a few highlights from his “action movie”–seven years of working with STR. Then he ties in election advice for pro-life advocates. Be forewarned. It may surprise you. And just one surprise isn’t enough for an action movie, Steve gives a clue to the big surprise he’ll be springing on the audience in December.

October 2008: “I’m Pro-Choice and Anti-War.”

Often, the anti-war and pro-choice positions seem to go together. But are they really compatible? In this letter, Stephen shows how the anti-war position can become a springboard to help someone become pro-life.

September 2008: Should We Focus on Evangelism or Abortion? Yes.

Some people say that we should abandon the abortion issue and focus on “evangelism.” Just help people come to Christ and their views on issues like abortion will fall into place. In this newsletter, Steve shows why this “solution” to abortion is simplistic and exposes a fundamental flaw in the approach.

August 2008: One Day at Arizona State

In conversations with pro-choice advocates, you’ll hear two comments more frequently than almost any other: “Women will die in the back alley if abortion is made illegal” and “I’m against abortion but I think it should be legal.” This newsletter will help you formulate a response. Not only will you receive an inside look at Steve’s work training pro-life advocates on college campuses, you’ll also read an actual dialogue between Steve and a student that took place during an open mic forum in front of the Memorial Union at Arizona State University in the spring of 2008.

July 2008: Common Ground Across North America

Do you sometimes struggle to know how to bring up the topic of abortion? Do you fear you’ll make people feel uncomfortable or that the conversation will be seen as unwelcome? Even the most prepared pro-life advocates struggle with the same things. Here’s a unique nation(s)wide event that can help: Common Ground Across North America. It’s one of the easiest dialogue opportunities in existence and it’s taking place in your hometown in July. This newsletter has all the details. Sign up today!

June 2008: Your Turn (Three Challenges for You to Solve)

For this newsletter, Steve turns the tables on his audience and asks YOU to answer a few challenges. You’ll get a glimpse of Steve’s work on college campuses through a recent event at Arizona State University. And you’ll have a chance to guess how Steve helped a student clarify his thinking on abortion. What would you say? Here’s a great opportunity to test yourself!

May 2008: Pro-Life “Training Wheels”

“All pro-lifers are religious people who want to force their beliefs on others!” In this newsletter, an atheist named Christian proves this common perception false as he describes a recent college club meeting where the discussion topic was abortion. He was the only pro-life advocate in a room full of pro-choice peers. How did he do? His first hand report is just a click away.

April 2008: You Won’t Know Until You Ask

In this newsletter, Stephen describes an interaction with a lesbian on a college campus that encouraged him to question his stereotypes. After telling the story, he offers a “stereotype” that dissolves all stereotypes. Then he encourages readers to use a simple principle to guide their decisions of who to speak to about issues of faith and values.

March 2008: Prager’s Modest First Step

Many times, pro-choice advocates set aside the legal aspects of abortion in order to avoid the moral aspects of the abortion issue. In a recent radio broadcast, however, pro-choice advocate Dennis Prager set aside the legal question in order to focus on the moral status of the unborn. In the process, he modeled an important common ground principle for his audience. This newsletter explains. Also included: Five ways to promote Stephen Wagner’s book, Common Ground Without Compromise.

February 2008: Common Ground Is Hot Off the Press!

Pro-life advocates face two challenges: “How can I be a gracious listener and start meaningful conversations?” This newsletter shows how my book, Common Ground Without Compromise, can help with both. In the process, I share a story that illustrates the disasters that happen when pro-life advocates don’t use my common ground approach. To view details about the book directly, see the book’s web page.

January 2008: A Year for Common Ground

With the publishing of my book Common Ground Without Compromise this month, our approach to dialogue on abortion goes from the coffee shop to the coffee table…and back again. Read on to see how you can use the book to create dialogue on abortion with anyone, pro-life and pro-choice. Or, to view details about the book directly, see the book’s web page.

December 2007: Practice Makes… Possible

Some Christians feel like they can’t make an impact in conversations until they’ve studied issues for months or years. During a recent survey outreach event, one student learned differently when God used her, imperfect as she was, as the perfect instrument in another person’s life. This newsletter tells the story. As you read, you’ll gain a new perspective on the incarnation of Christ and our place in God’s plan to reconcile people to Himself.

November 2007: “You Have Forever Changed My Ability to Speak Up.”

What happens when STR leaves town? We leave our resources behind. And lives are changed. In my November newsletter, a young woman shares how our resource table helped her be a better ambassador for Christ. Then I share how my new book, Common Ground Without Compromise, will do the same for many pro-life advocates. But the book isn’t just a training tool. It’s an interaction tool, as well. Read on for the whole story!

October 2007: Analyze Imitate Improvise

In order to make an impact, ambassadors must be master improvisers. They are sensitive to the unique needs of each person they talk to. Yet, improvisation is not something we are born with. In this newsletter, I describe how jazz masters learn to improvise and show how pro-life advocates can learn to improvise the same way. I include a sample dialogue you can use to begin!

September 2007: Can I Stop Start Having Conversations Now?

My work at STR is focused on training Christians to engage those who disagree. Some are so active that they need to take a break. Others never engage important topics, or they only may spend time talking to those who agree. In this newsletter, I explain how disagreement helps pro-lifers and I share how STR’s training seminar impacted a film critic who disagrees with us.

August 2007: Two Birds with One Stone

Since the abortion issue affects thousands of adults and unborn children everyday, training Christians to make a persuasive case against abortion is important. When we train them in on-campus outreach experiences, they are able to learn about another important need they can meet everywhere they go. In a world of distractions, some people are falling through the cracks and longing for someone to listen to them. This newsletter includes a reflection from one student who learned first-hand how he could change somebody’s life through an unlikely tool: an abortion survey.

July 2007: Choice – When It’s a Good Thing

Everyone is pro-choice, at least in the sense that we all promote the freedom to choose. Everyone is also anti-choice, in that we all oppose certain choices. Pro-life and pro-choice advocates have common ground on these points, but our beliefs diverge when we start discussing when we should promote the freedom to choose. This newsletter gives a principle all of us can use to answer that question.

June 2007: “You Shouldn’t Force Your Beliefs on Others”

When pro-lifers say they want abortion to be restricted, some people reply, “You shouldn’t force your beliefs on others!” Pro-life laws do no such thing. This newsletter clears up a simple confusion about the word belief and gives two other suggestions for responding.

May 2007: Hope

The Supreme Court’s recent Gonzales v. Carhart decision allowed the first restriction on an abortion procedure (D&X) in 34 years. This should give pro-lifers hope, but not because many children will be saved by the decision or restrictions on first trimester abortions are just around the corner. This newsletter explains.

April 2007: My Guarantee

If you can learn to ask just two questions, you can make an impact on any topic, with anyone, any place, any time. This newsletter focuses on the first question. During a recent college outreach event, Steve and his friend David both interacted with a porn-peddling student. They used different tactics and everyone involved learned the value of a very simple question anyone can ask. Read on for the whole story.

March 2007: Are Most People Pro-Choice?

It is a common perception: the American public is pro-choice. What does that mean? Do most people really agree with abortion-on-demand in any trimester? In this newsletter, Steve links to polling data and data from his own poll to suggest that many Americans are against most abortions. Then he gives practical tips for using this polling data to start meaningful conversations about abortion.

February 2007: Wanting the Conversation Is Not Enough

Do you struggle to get up the courage to talk with friends about abortion? Do you fear making them uncomfortable? In this newsletter, Steve shares his own struggle to “want the conversation.” Then he shares the stories of two STR students who not only wanted the conversation, but were wise to share what Steve calls “my favorite pro-life tool.” Want to find out how you can get this tool for free? Read on.

January 2007: Marriage – A Proposal for Students

Students considering the pro-life view frequently ask for practical steps to stop abortion. In this newsletter, I give some reasons why encouraging respect for marriage is my favorite suggestion. Then I share some personal details about how marriage is about to change my life and work – for the better.

December 2006: Rest

Is the idea of resting the most misunderstood and misapplied concept in western culture? People either never rest for fear of being lazy, or they do all their work for the utmost goal of pleasurable relaxation. In this newsletter, Steve encourages ambassadors for Christ to make a purposeful effort to rest without falling into either of these extremes. He provides two reasons for resting and gives a practical suggestion for accomplishing it.

November 2006: What’s the Most Significant Thing I Can Do with My Life?

Five years ago, when I started work at STR, I struggled with this question. I decided to ignore it and do what I knew was at least very significant: full-time pro-life training. But the opportunities God has provided through that work have surprised me. This newsletter tells the story of a recent campus conversation that illustrates how pro-life training allows me to defend the Christian worldview on all sorts of issues we as Christians care about…and train others at the same time. Could pro-life training be the most significant thing I can be doing after all?

October 2006: Do I Agree with ANYTHING You Believe?

Sometimes finding common ground is more important than challenging someone’s false view right away. A recent conversation I had with an abortion advocate in an open mic forum proved this to be true. In this newsletter, I highlight the method I used to find common ground with her: I listened for things she believed with which I am happy to agree.

September 2006: A Fool Does Not Delight in Understanding

Have you been embarrassed by pro-life advocates who make lots of statements but rarely listen? In this newsletter, Steve highlights a passage from Proverbs that encourages us to be good listeners, gives four reasons why listening is important, and shares a tool he uses on campus to demonstrate the importance of listening to those who disagree.

August 2006: Not Stumped by the Same Challenge Twice

Ambassadors for Christ don’t just seek conversations about things that matter. They also reflect on each experience to remember successful strategies, give thanks to God, and identify ways to improve for the next interaction. In this newsletter, one of Steve’s students shares about two recent experiences during college campus outreach events. Through his words, you’ll not only learn from his winsome diplomacy, you’ll also see how important it is to reflect on your interactions.

July 2006: Kids Can Handle the Truth…IF

Is college a scary place? Should we be concerned that our kids will not be able to cope with the intellectual pressure of attacks on their faith and values? Sure if we don’t prepare them. The reality of danger should lead us to inoculate kids rather than isolating them. This newsletter describes what happened when a few sixth graders got ahold of one intellectual challenge in a safe environment. They carefully dismantled it (it didn’t stand a chance, actually). There’s a lesson here for any parent or educator.

June 2006: “I Guess I Do Have an Opinion!”

Usually the best conversation is one that begins with common ground. This newsletter includes four common ground questions you can use in any abortion conversation along with a preview of an upcoming booklet on common ground I’m writing for STR.

May 2006: Invisible Apologetics

If you master stunning pro-life arguments, ask all of the right questions, and maintain a gracious manner, you still will have no positive impact on your listeners…unless God softens hearts and readies minds to hear your message. Indeed, our most important outreach tool is the one we most often forget. This newsletter explains.

April 2006: Will an Abortion Ban Stop Abortion?

Should we rely on legislation like the recent abortion ban in South Dakota to solve the abortion problem? Yes and no. This newsletter explains.

March 2006: Worth WAY More than a Thousand Words

Every day, more than 3,500 babies die in their mother’s wombs (USA). But one day last November wasn’t like all the rest. It was special because a little girl named Kennedy lived to see her birthday. This newsletter tells how a simple email helped affirm the value of one individual life. And it makes the case each individual person matters, even if it’s a person who disagrees with us about abortion.

January 2006: A Pro-Life Riddle

I believe in abortion if it’s the sort that protects the child. This newsletter explains.

December 2005: Common Ground and Uncommon Conversation

Do you tend to begin with the Bible when making your case against abortion? A student I met at Kansas State was flabbergasted that I didn’t. Here’s the story of how my simple human rights argument caused a secular college student to take a fresh look at the pro-life position.

November 2005: How Can We Truly Comfort the Hurting?

In this newsletter, I describe three conversations that tested my contention from last month that we can be helpful to people, even if we’re not trained counselors. We need only master one simple tool.

October 2005: Real Therapy for Those Touched by Abortion

Some abortion conversations are purely intellectual. But many conversations lead people to share deep personal confessions and needs. While we should not attempt to do the job of a trained professional counselor, we can be helpful by listening and asking good questions. Still, some believe that it’s best not to confront people and make people uncomfortable. In this newsletter, I share how I responded to that challenge during an uncomfortable (and not very romantic) date.

September 2005: Who Should I Become?

Pro-life advocates focus lots of time and energy convincing people that abortion is a seriously wrong act. Is this the whole story, though? Is it really accurate to look only at the act, and not a bit at the actor? In this newsletter, I propose that incorporating virtue and character into our pro-life apologetics may help build bridges where none could be found.

August 2005: Don’t Modulate Too Quickly, Maestro

We can study the scientific evidence and philosophical justification for the pro-life position until we’re blue in the face, but if we don’t know how to start a conversation about abortion in everyday life, our training will only help us to be more confident. In other words, we’ll be happy, but we won’t influence public opinion. In this newsletter, I suggest one key principle for creating conversations naturally…anytime…anywhere.

July 2005: Ideas are a Life and Death Matter

Moments of truth sometimes come when we least expect them. As ambassadors for Christ, it’s our job to be ready anytime we have the opportunity to clarify the truth. Sometimes our willingness to act can be a life and death matter. Here’s the story of how God used my simple email message to help save a child’s life.

June 2005: Is This the Best They Can Do?

Some pro-choice thinkers are very careful with their arguments and evidence, but many who are pro-choice just aren’t prepared to defend their position rationally. In this newsletter, I share some real-world conversations with pro-choice advocates and suggest that we can use pro-choice mediocrity to create a culture of life.

May 2005: Nuts for Outreach

Pro-lifers, there’s hope! Take a look at how five Azusa Pacific University students are making an impact on abortion in their everyday lives.

April 2005: “You are violent.”

How can you respond to someone who accuses you of being violent, simply because you are pro-life and show accurate pictures of abortion? In this newsletter, I tell the story of a real accusation leveled against me by a pro-choice student, then I give suggestions for how to quickly return the conversation to productive territory.

March 2005: Pro-Lifers Remember There’s a Woman Surrounding that Fetus!

Many well-meaning pro-lifers forget their common sense when they’re advocating for the unborn’s life. In short, they forget the unborn’s mother. This newsletter describes the importance of showing compassion for women in our pro-life defense and offers a sample sound bite to communicate concern.

February 2005: If I Die Today… My Work Will Continue

In my work, I aim for having a broad impact by speaking to as many people as possible. But I also seek to have a deep impact by mentoring a few students toward leadership in the pro-life movement. This newsletter gives the reason why.

January 2005: Pro-Life Students Need Our Training Now

To stop abortion, pro-lifers must seek to change public opinion through intentional presentations and one-to-one conversations. Without training, though, pro-lifers may put out lots of effort but make little impact. Here’s my plan to bring that essential training to more than 20,000 in the next three years.

October 2004: Accuracy in Sound Bites

No matter where you share the pro-life message, you’ll run into two challenges. How can you be sufficiently precise but still hold your audience’s attention? This newsletter gives my answer.

September 2004: Earn Trust First…Then Defend the Unborn

Some pro-lifers struggle to find an opportunity to discuss abortion with friends the topic seems too taboo. They don’t offend, but they also make no impact. Others have an opposite problem they introduce the topic regularly, but fail to connect to the conversation at hand. They seem like fanatics. There’s a third option. This newsletter tells the story of how in the course of normal conversation, a young professional asked me to tell her all about the pro-life position. And it gives pointers that will make it possible for the same thing to happen to you.

July 2004: Exponential Impact: Why We Focus on Training

I can feverishly scurry around to college campuses and coffee shops hoping to change the way Americans think about abortion. I can work every waking minute and suffer sleepless nights driven by the urgency of the need to save innocent lives. I could even trade my health and sanity talking to hundreds of individuals and winning many converts from the ranks of the abortion advocates. But public opinion across the country would change little, since I am limited by a single menacing fact: I am only one person. In this newsletter, I share a better plan for changing public opinion one that has the power to stop abortion without the nervous breakdowns and chronic fatigue. It’s a four-step training process I’ve used to help hundreds of pro-life students across the country successfully engage abortion-choice advocates. (Posted August 2004)

June 2004: Calm Ambassadors in the Midst of an Angry Mob

I am frequently asked, “How do you stay calm in the midst of crowds of angry abortion advocates?” My June 2004 newsletter reveals the secret I use on campus whenever I talk to someone who disagrees. If you employ it in your conversations with friends and co-workers, you will see tense conversations defused and the dialogue productive. Try it! (Posted in July 2004)

May 2004: “What if She Was Raped?”

In the midst of a crowd on a Denver campus, a woman challenged my pro-life perspective with a horrific crime done to her.  This letter describes how I responded.

February 2004: Why Bother?

Pro-life work is unpopular. It makes some people uncomfortable and other people angry. Why not simply keep our views to ourselves? My February 2004 newsletter allows a post-abortive student to tell her story. After reading, you’ll agree silence is simply not an option.

November 2003: Paul Hill, Partial-Birth Abortion Bans, and Me

A conversation in an airport shuttle to Columbia, Missouri provides an opportunity to clarify the pro-life position. And the story provides an opportunity to clarify effective pro-life strategy. Here’s a hint: Violence toward abortionists certainly doesn’t help. And abortion bans may sound helpful but in practice yield little more in the way of results. What’s a concerned pro-lifer to do?

October 2003: She Had Concerns, But I Wasn’t Listening

The Ambassador’s Creed says ambassadors “listen in order to understand.” Here’s the story of how I learned that lesson…the hard way.

July 2003: She’s Pregnant and Scheduled for an Abortion. Can We Intervene?

When I heard about a seventeen year-old who was scheduled to have an abortion the next day, I decided to pray about the situation. But I could not stop there – the writer of Proverbs makes it clear God also expects us to act (“Deliver those who are being taken away to death” – Prov. 24:11-12). What did I do? What happened next? Not even I expected the final outcome. My July 2003 newsletter tells the whole story. Read on!

May 2003: “I now see abortion in a different light.”

Do people really change their minds on the abortion issue? I hear this question frequently when I am training students to dialogue about abortion. My response: That’s not my goal. The force of the original question relies on something we all know to be true, that minds usually don’t change on weighty issues overnight. My goal is more realistic: In any conversation, move a person closer to accepting the pro-life position. But how is this done? Isn’t everyone fairly cemented in their views already? One student I met at the University of Northern Colorado wasn’t she was more than willing to talk AND listen!

June 2002: “What about the fifteen year-old who’s not able to care for a child?”

Do minds ever change on abortion? Here’s the play-by-play of a conversation I had once with a co-worker. It began with compassion for destitute fifteen year-old mothers and ended with compassion for the unborn and her mother. What happened? It wasn’t magic. It wasn’t trickery. I used a few simple tools any pro-lifer can master.

February 2002: In Memoriam for Grandpa Hurt

My grandfather taught me a great deal about mathematics, missions, and love for God when I was young. And he even taught me one last priceless lesson as he quietly passed away in January 2002 with me near his bedside.

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