Supporting Christian Leaders
A big part of our mission here at Living Without Lust is to support Christian leaders who serve men struggling with lust. It is why we want to train seminarians and emerging leaders in lust recovery ministry. However, we also hold a deep conviction that pastors and ministry leaders must focus on the ministry of the word and prayer, while also raising up teams of people who conduct hands on ministry. These leaders can never major in lust recovery ministry alone. To do so would divert them from their kingdom calling.
But we are also convinced these leaders must be able to provide important resources. A sexual brokenness tsunami is cascading upon us both inside and outside the church. According to Barna 67% of women between 18 and 31 are regularly viewing porn. Pause and take that in for a moment. Though we have been called to focus on men’s recovery, a recent request for ministry training asked for resources for women, which we are happy to provide. 40% of teenage boys are addicted to hardcore porn. The average age of those in the rooms of recovery has dramatically dropped. Twenty five years ago, when I first walked in, almost everyone was over 40. Today, a third of the room is under thirty and half is under 40.
Is there a word from God about this? Are we in the church and in Christian organizations preparing now for a pastoral ministry emphasis for those who are struggling, one that will increasingly take up much of our time and energy, even if it is spent simply providing resources? We cannot emphasize enough how important their pastor is for men who struggle. Jay Stringer observes than many people in their twenties these days have been talking about porn for ten or more years and are sick of talking about it. They tell him there is nothing new. But he says they have little idea what to do about it.
It is also pretty clear that any response is only going to come from Christians. There is a small secular anti-porn movement but there are deeper issues of shame, trauma and ritual that it cannot address. No, our response will require a gospel-centered approach that is hands on. There are a lot of resources on the internet currently, but information and an arms length approach will not ultimately work. Trying to cure what is essentially an intimacy disorder by going online will not provide life-changing solutions. So what will work? A local approach that majors in relationships. An intellectual or lone-wolf approach cannot meet the challenge of lust addiction. This has been what we are trying to build in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Tallahassee and other cities in the Southeast. What to do?
1. Like it or not, we live in a world that increasing equates personhood with sexuality. Rather than fight this, we can use it in our favor. We are going to have to learn God’s Biblical plan for sexuality and teach it to our people. We must speak about it more, not less. The world is testing us to see how powerful our gospel is and whether we have a message that is hopeful and life-giving. We do! Please share any resources you have in this area with us so we can pass them on.
2. We must create environments in our churches and ministries where people can tell their story, reduce shame, and find hope that their future story can be redemptive and life-giving. This will require us to surrender the old idea that some people are pure and others are not. See Romans 1-4. Leading with our weakness helps. For a treatment of truly seeing and transforming our stories, please see Jay Stringer’s book, Unwanted. (Below) For a small group approach to sexual brokenness, especially for the never married or newly married, see our Resources page for Drew Boa’s Redeemed Sexuality.
3. We must come alongside those people who struggle in our midst and walk with them along the long road to healing. They will never get this from the internet. The good news is that real, lasting transformation is happening all around us. We are continuing to see isolated, secretive people find community and connection. They are turning from self-centeredness to servanthood as they help others who struggle as they do.
Please let us know how we can help. We are all in this together.