3 Keys to Creating a Strong Battle Plan to Fight Porn in Your Church

Many churches across the country are seeing the devastating effects of pornography on their congregations. Broken marriages due to virtual infidelity. Heartbroken parents who don’t know how to help their child who is already addicted to porn. The young, 20-something woman who can’t find a guy in college not watching porn. Even the young women are carrying secret burdens of watching porn themselves.

The list goes on and on.

While the heartbreak among church leaders is real, and a desire to assist these members is genuine, our attack plan is lacking. We treat the plague of pornography as a check box on a list of taboo topics we need to address once per year—a passing topic while preaching on biblical sexuality in Ephesians, 1 Corinthians, or Matthew.

Unfortunately, this type of strategy will never win the war against porn.

Let’s Get Real About Porn

Everyone in your church is, in one way or another (and whether they know it or not), affected by the porn problem. I love the quote by Bill Perkins that says, “If you think you can’t fall in to sexual sin, then you are godlier than David, stronger than Samson, and wiser than Solomon.”

Smart phones put access to porn in everyone’s pocket. According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 81% of Americans own smartphones, up from just 35% in a 2011 survey.

With all this access, why are we as the church body only talking about the porn epidemic once or twice a year in passing, or only in men’s groups or recovery groups? Statistics from a 2014 Barna Group study with Proven Men tell us that 64% of men and 33% of woman are viewing porn at least once per month. This is clearly not just a men’s issue, and it certainly should not be contained to only a small portion of men and woman who are honest enough to admit they have an issue and join a recovery group.

Porn is a secret sin, and most users are hiding in your pews. Wives are secretly crying at night, asking themselves why they are not good enough and why he can’t stop. They’re angry that no one is bringing this topic up. Men are painting on their tough guy faces, working hard to be role models to their sons and heroes to their daughters. But in the late night hours, they’re fighting against their secret sin, not realizing that their clicks fuel a dangerous industry that exploits men and women and decrease their own sensitivity to sexual violence.

Even more importantly, they’re destroying relationships and distancing themselves from God.

The Battle Plan

If you want to win a war, you must understand your enemy. In the book Art of War, by Sun Tzu, this quote sums it up pretty well:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Here are three ways that you can help your people understand the enemy and fight pornography in your church.

1. Start by training and protecting your leadership—this includes you!

If we want to help people in our ministries, we need to start with ourselves and our leadership teams. Soldiers do not enter battle without training both mentally and physically, studying strategy, and learning from those who have been in battle before. To win, we need to prepare, educate, and protect our leadership teams so they can help your people.

  • Educating your leadership team is the first and most critical step in our customized program for helping faith-based organizations fight porn. We’ve created Porn Education for Ministry Staff to simplify this process for you.
  • You and your leadership teams also need to be modeling healthy digital accountability. Use Covenant Eyes and find a friend or spouse to receive your accountability reports. In your team, it could get messy. But if your staff can’t find room for grace and forgiveness then how can your people?
  • Finally, you can “protect” your staff by making sure that policies and procedures that govern personal conduct, digital behavior, and pornography use are updated and clearly understood. Again, Covenant Eyes has a suite of policy templates that can help.

2. Take action with the entire congregation.

In addition to encouraging leaders to model accountability, we need to develop a battle plan for all areas of the church—men, women, children, singles, community outreach, etc. We need a sustained plan of attack.

Talking about porn at all levels may seem difficult. There is a lot of fear out there—fear of offending, fear of driving people away, fear of exposing problems you are not equipped to help with. But God did not give us a spirit of fear. We can overcome our fear through the art of discipline. Discipline is the secret sauce to victory; it keeps you going when motivation and passion waiver (Titus 1:8).

We must have a discipline of being honest and open about real issues with our people. We need ongoing educational campaigns for parents, so they can help to protect and teach their children about the dangers of the Internet. We must equip high school and college-age singles to take a stand for purity in their friend groups and on their campuses. We have to provide support groups for men and women who have been struggling with pornography addiction. The list of must-dos is long, but essential.

Remember you are raising up an army for battle here. They need to know the realities of what they are up against, that they are not alone, and others have fought and won this battle so there is real hope.

3. Treat porn as an ongoing battle.

Remember, to win this war, you need boots-on-the-ground leaders who are willing to hunker down in the trenches and lead their congregation to victory. This isn’t just a “them” problem. It’s an everyone problem—a you, me, and the entire world problem. And it’s not going away anytime soon.

Keep preaching about porn from the pulpit. Dedicate an entire Sunday to discussing pornography with your congregation (Have you heard of Covenant Eyes’ Safe Home Sunday?). Create support groups that meet regularly to help those in your church who are struggling with a pornography addiction. Schedule regular policy reviews and trainings for your staff and leaders.

Like any war, if we give up, we lose. How dangerous it would be to lose this war. The tethers of pornography can restrict every aspect of our life. As God’s people, our life should be spent serving him, not chained to addiction. 

Take the Next Step Towards Freedom

As pornography infiltrates more areas of our lives, the church cannot keep ignoring this issue. It is time for leaders to take charge and lead their staff and congregations to victory against porn, and Covenant Eyes wants to help. To learn more about just how to equip your church in today’s over-sexualized culture, we highly recommend that you download and read our ebook: The Prepared Ministry: Policies that Heal and Protect from Porn