On the weekend of August 20 and 21, Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas initiated its Partnership for Purity with Covenant Eyes. The mission of this multi-year partnership is to help Prestonwood’s families be proactive in the war against Internet pornography. A key component of the partnership is to encourage every family to use Covenant Eyes on their electronic devices in order to live with integrity online.
Prestonwood is a church on a mission, creating an initiative that can be replicated across churches all over America. Pastor Jack Graham recognizes the severity of the pornography epidemic that is creeping into homes through technology. In a note to his congregation, Pastor Graham stated, “We are all vulnerable. Help us to raise the standard for purity by protecting your family. We must pay attention to the purity of heart and mind if we want to be used by Jesus.”
Prestonwood Is Doing Something
Our relationship with Prestonwood began earlier this year when Pastor Graham sent a delegation to the Set Free Global Summit held in Greensboro, NC this past April. The six person delegation led by Shawn Callander, Minister of Marriage & Family, was deeply moved by the information shared at the Summit, particularly the presentation and testimony given by Covenant Eyes’ founder, Ron DeHaas, on the power of accountability. Upon their return and at a subsequent staff meeting one week later, a decision was made. Prestonwood had to do something.
The Partnership for Purity is being implemented at all levels throughout the church. In the words of Pastor Graham, “We will have an ongoing emphasis on purity throughout the year–whether it is addressed from the pulpit, Prestonwood Christian Academy, workshops, prayer times, curriculum, men’s and women’s conferences, Young Singles Retreat, Freedom Weekend, or countless more opportunities.”
In James 2:17-20, we read, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?”
Prestonwood takes its role seriously as a leader among churches in America. They are doing something significant, hoping to set a standard for what churches all over America might do in the war for purity. To address this topic among children, students, and adults, Prestonwood has written age appropriate curriculum for their entire Bible Fellowship ministry. They are putting their faith into action.
Additionally, on Prestonwood’s kick-off weekend, Pastor Graham invited Levi Lusko, pastor of Fresh Life Church in Montana to deliver a powerful message titled “Strength and Honor.” In this pointed message, Levi shared that “purity is the path to your greatest pleasure. Your greatest power.” And that, “desire can keep you from your destiny.” [You can listen to the complete message here, titled, “Strength and Honor.”]
Why Churches Need to Act
Surveys prove that porn does not discriminate. Both the Godly and the lost are victims to the grip of Internet pornography. And yet, The Porn Phenomenon (Barna) reported that only 7% of pastors in its survey report their church has a ministry program for those struggling with porn. Traditionally, the church has taken one of two stances when it comes to sex and sexuality:
- Silence, or
- Sex is dirty, sex is bad, sex is naughty, so save it for your marriage.
Church leaders, please take a moment and ask yourself if maybe it’s your time to rise up and do something. Sex is a gift, given by God, invented by God, blessed by God. It is a mingling of souls that is not to be ignored or taken lightly. The Internet is producing a counterfeit version of this gift, and it is destroying families and marriages, sometimes before they even get started (in our singles). We must do something.
Ron DeHaas, co-founder and president of Covenant Eyes, said, “I believe the Church is the solution. The Church must take the lead.” In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said to Peter, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” There isn’t another plan for the Gospel! Each of you is part of the plan! The Church will carry the day.
Next Steps for Churches of Any Size
Unsure where to begin? Here are a few ideas. One or a few might work in your church, whether you’re a mega church or a small church. The important thing is just to get started.
- Teach it from the front – Pastor, if you’re not comfortable speaking about sex and purity in a grace-filled, relevant, comfortable way, then find someone who will. We have a 3-part sermon series that might spur some ideas.
- Teach it at all levels – give kids and youth leaders the training and curriculum they need to know how to instill preventative teaching about sex and purity into your tweens and teens. Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
- Equip your parents – invest in a trained speaker to come and give your parents the tools needed to have critical, persistent, and consistent conversation with their children about sex and purity.
- Pour into singles – listen to the needs of your single audience. Most pastors have no appreciation for the challenges faced by singles in a sexualized culture. Learn from them. Covenant Eyes has written a free e-book, More than Single, which might help pastors understand the single life better.
- Create safe channels – when the Spirit starts stirring in the hearts of your people, be ready to provide safe environments for your people to confess and find healing (and, don’t forget that women need healing from addiction and as spouses of addicts, too).
- Invest in pre-wedding more than the wedding – require that engaged couples be mentored and repent of sexual sin long before they are locked into a wedding day they truly aren’t ready for.
- Lead by example – God will not use a dirty cup. Pastors and anyone in church leadership do not miss this. You cannot possibly hope to lead your people into purity if you are stuck in the muck of sexual sin.
Culture doesn’t change quickly, and sin hates giving up ground it has taken in the sexual arena or any arena. At Covenant Eyes, we are hopeful that many, many other churches follow Prestonwood’s lead, and put their faith into action, fighting for purity.