As we wrap up the Porn in Church series, I wanted to round up some resources for pastors.
Before I do that, though, I wanted to offer this quick word of encouragement and “advice” if I may.
It is very important for you to realize when you’re in over your head.
Pastors and ministry leaders have a unique position of being the “go to” person for the people in their care. Rebellious teenager? Go to the pastor. Struggling with an eating disorder? Ask the leader for help.
Some leaders get drunk off that power trip and love pretending to be the source of answers for everything and anything. However, the good, humble leaders know when they don’t know.
Hopefully, if someone hobbled into your church with a compound fracture of their femur, you wouldn’t take it upon yourself to fix it. You wouldn’t rely on the one first aid course you took fifteen years ago in college, crack out a dusty first aid kit, wrap that leg in an unsterile bandage, give the person a pain killer and a prayer and send them on their way.
Hopefully, you would recognize that this is something you cannot fix. You would call paramedics, get them to a hospital, and get them the help they need. Then, maybe you would orchestrate a meal train for your church and check in on them. You would operate within your limits.
Yet, when it comes to “spiritual” struggles, I think many pastors and leaders don’t operate within their limits. Just because it looks like sin doesn’t mean you know how to fix it.
If someone comes to you with a porn problem, there may be more at play there than “simply” pornography. There could be a history (or current) abuse, sexual trauma, or even mental illness. Yes, you may have taken a counseling class in seminary. And you may have experience helping hundreds of people break free from “sin.” But understand, there is nothing wrong about “outsourcing” help for people.
There is nothing wrong with bringing in other resources, with looking into those yourself, or even sending your people to other professionals.
This isn’t about your ego and another notch in your belt. It’s about helping people find healing and freedom.
So, with that being said, here’s a list of resources for pastors who want to address pornography.
Covenant Eyes – I talk about Covenant Eyes a lot. If you’ve been following this series, you saw the post by Sam Black. They’re more than just an accountability software. They also have a blog filled with useful information and a great selection of ebooks addressing the issue of pornography. Plus they host a Pastor’s Round Table discussion where they equip pastors and leaders with tools and information to help those who struggle with pornography.
Sexual Sanity for Men/Women – These small group studies are from Harvest USA. I’ve written about Sexual Sanity for Women before as it is my current go-to recommended resource. The author of Sexual Sanity for Women has a new, free resource called Sexual Faithfulness that would be worth your time to look into. Especially since it is free!
Unwanted– This book by Jay Stringer offers a different perspective of sexual struggles. Why recommend this? Because I think reading it can help you know when you’ve crossed into territory that may merit another professional’s help and perspective. We have to stop viewing sexual struggles as simply “sinful choices” and realize that they are choices motivated by other factors.
Talking Back to Purity Culture– I recently reviewed this book by Rachel Joy Welcher. While it isn’t specific to porn use among women or in general, it does address some of the toxic ways we can teach purity and sex in church. Those toxic teachings have oftentimes been cited by struggling women as contributing factors to their struggle. Addressing sex in a healthy way in church is a vital part of addressing pornography.
The Porn Phenomenon– In 2016, the Barna Group released the Porn Phenomenon study. It contains statistics on pornography use and sexting including among Christians. You can also check out some of the other studies Barna has done including ones specific to Millennials and GenZ.
The Heart of Man– This is a beautiful film and may be a very effective way to address pornography in our digital age or if your church is currently operating in a hybrid model due to COVID. It captures the essence of struggle, highlighting the effects of pornography through various different stories including Jackie Hill Perry (author of Gay Girl, Good God), and Tray and Melody Lovvorn (creators of Undone Redone), and insights from experts like Dan Allender (author of The Cry of the Soul and Healing the Wounded Heart). If you are looking for a way to start this conversation while also holding the door open for grace, I can’t recommend this movie enough.
And there are more. That’s the good news.
As this problem comes to light there are more and more ministries stepping up to help equip pastors and leaders to address this issue.
You aren’t tackling this issue alone. My encouragement to you would be to seek out the resources that will best benefit the people under your care.