Porn in a Pandemic: Leading Your Church During Coronavirus

We get it.

It’s hard to shepherd your flock right now, with your church building most likely shut down. You’re probably scrambling to figure out how to livestream your sermon, or if you’re used to live-streaming, how to help your community groups meet online during this time.

Part of shepherding your flock well means you need to be prepared to help your congregation deal with online temptations. With people mostly stuck at home, under extreme stress and dealing with unprecedented loneliness and lack of community, many people may be triggered to watch pornography, from the teenager who is supposed to be doing homework in his or her bedroom to the person who’s been porn-free for decades. Plus, some tech-savvy trolls have already taken the opportunity to spam public online meetings with pornographic links and imagery.

We’re here to help you through this time in every way we can. Here are five ways you can protect your church and support your members during this isolating time.

1. Protect your livestream.

Many churches have switched to Zoom, a video conferencing tool, to support their members, and many are likely considering using it to do their live-streamed message. It’s an excellent tool for video conferencing, but it’s also open to certain problems. Business Insider reports that, because one of Zoom’s default settings allows any participant to share their screen, anonymous trolls have already begun joining public meetings and spamming them with porn. Even when booted, they would just rejoin under a new anonymous account and share their screens again.

If you plan to live-stream your message through Zoom, take a few minutes to find the “settings” option and turn off Screen Sharing (on Mac, it was under “advanced features”).

You can also consider prerecording your message. Author and pastor Eric Schumacher explains that everybody’s schedule is disrupted right now, and he recommends posting a listing of liturgies, songs (with embedded YouTube videos, as appropriate), scripture readings, the recorded sermon and manuscript, a benediction, and allowing families (or even small groups) to run through the service on their own schedule.

By the way, if you’re a larger church who’s used to the technological aspects of this or other normal church functions (like tithing), reach out to smaller local churches and offer them a hand. You’re all on mission together, after all.

2. Give yourself a break, and preach topically.

Expositional preaching right now is popular and good, but right now your congregation is scared. They need hope. They need to hear how God is in control of Coronavirus, and they need to know that even if they feel lonely, the common grace of technology still allows us to fellowship together, just in a different way.

In other words, it’s okay if you put your sermon series on Hebrews 7 and Melchizedek on hold for a few weeks to talk directly about what’s going on in the world.

A few years ago, Covenant Eyes began offering a four part sermon series on wired relationships. You can download it for free here. While you will no doubt want to modify it to reflect the fact that all relationships are going to primarily be online relationships for a little while, we hope it alleviates some stress on you—and reminds your members that social distancing is not an open invitation to sin online.

3. Point your community groups to online groups.

If your church actively promotes small groups, many of them are trying to figure out whether or how to meet right now.

For many, Zoom may still be an adequate tool. If your church is now paying for Zoom, to avoid meeting limits, consider offering each small group leader a paid account for the next few months. (You may have to offer special assistance to elderly members of your congregation.)

If you have an accountability group meeting in your church, though, online voice chat might not be the best option. We’ve all heard horror stories of kids crashing business meetings by now; these get even worse if the topic under discussion is pornography or another addictive activity or substance. Encourage men who aren’t comfortable using an online video chat tool to turn to groups like The Samson Society instead. They are pros at online accountability and would be a perfect supplement to help your men find freedom when their normal group can’t meet—and even after the normal group resumes.

4. Check in on the wives.

In Counseling Wives, counselor Lisa Taylor notes that a wife who reports her husband’s porn use may only be disclosing a very small part of the problems in her marriage. She may need to know you’re a safe person, and she may have waited to see how you responded before disclosing more. In other words, a wife who reported her husband watching porn on occasion may be a victim of verbal, emotional, or physical abuse, or her husband may be guilty of other serious sinful or even illegal behaviors.

While the world is in a state of semi-quarantine, take some time to check up on wives of known porn users. Her husband’s porn use may have resumed or escalated under stress, or she and the kids may be trapped in a home with a dangerous man. Offer help to her as you can. That may be in the form of phone counseling, or, if you suspect she’s in danger, you may need to find coded ways to offer her support and help her leave the situation.

In addition, don’t be surprised if wives uncover their husband or children’s secret porn use during this time. The stress means additional temptations, and the forced proximity means there will be more opportunities to uncover it. Pray now for ways to help families recover, and for God to use Coronavirus to start people down the path to lasting freedom.

5. Create a Community.

Right now people are desperate to stay connected, and desperate to regain some semblance of control over their lives. If you’ve been considering starting a Covenant Eyes Community, now is a perfect time to get started. You’ll provide the psychological comfort of doing something together, and rally together around the common enemy of porn. (You may even be able to negotiate special pricing for your church.)

Fill out this form to talk to our experts about your community today.