4 Steps To Practicing Forgiveness
Jeremy • Apr 4 2021
Churches all around the world are realizing that their regular attendees have only been half-heartedly experiencing all that Christ has to offer. And why? Though Christ has bridged the gap for us to know God, it’s like we have put our own barrier between us and Him. A barrier often created by societal influences and past experiences seemingly just too painful to confront. Instead of turning to God, the Church, the very community meant to be the body of Christ, has become riddled with addiction.
Many of these church-goers love God with every fiber of their being. They may even be quick to serve within the church and community in any capacity. But deep within, there are areas of life that have been left untouched. It’s the art of compartmentalization, where certain areas of our lives cannot touch others.
Take for example the person who was continuously abused over a period of time. They love God and trust that He loves them, albeit this hidden compartment. They grapple regularly with the concept of “Where was God when this was happening?”, or the all too familiar question, “Why?”
And to be honest, that’s a truth that only God can reveal to them. But to ignore these questions only contributes to the barrier felt between God and man.
Without experiencing healing, individuals will likely medicate their pain through a source or substance.
Studies over the past several years have shown that sexual addiction is at an all-time high in our society. Despite these numbers, churches continue to either completely ignore or water down any attempt at a message to raise awareness. Even if it’s discussed from the pulpit, leadership often neglects to put a plan in place to provide ongoing help and support for those who admit to their struggle.
Churches must recognize that this is a huge problem, not only among church-goers but among ministry leaders as well.
In a study conducted by the Barna Group, 57% of pastors and 64% of youth pastors admit to struggling with porn, either currently or in the past.
Pastors should be taking an interest in helping congregation members deal with the opioid crisis in America, but they should not stop there.
According to the Pew Research Center, just under 50% of church-members know someone struggling with a drug addiction. However, in a study conducted by Pure Desire Ministries, nearly 70% of church-going men are personally struggling with pornography. At the core of both epidemics, you will find a hurting, lost, and wounded soul who is trying to numb their pain by any means necessary.
Men and women alike have inner-hurts that need to be healed. By choosing to keep our head buried in the sand, pretending these issues only exist in other churches but not ours, we’re handing power over to the enemy. He uses and abuses this power to not only destroy an individual, but to devour their marriage and their family as well.
In a poll conducted on Twitter by Covenant Eyes, 65% of respondents said that their church never or rarely talks about the issue of pornography.
The Porn Phenomenon by the Barna Group found that 88% of pastors admit that pornography is a problem in their congregation. However, only 7% of churches have a program in place to help those who are struggling.
So why do churches remain silent?
Even with the increase of sexually explicit content in the world around us, Christians still consider matters of sexuality a topic that should not be discussed publicly.
It becomes almost like a generational collide. Those above the age of 50 tend to shy away from the conversation. Meanwhile, the younger generations are openly talking about porn and being exposed to it. So when the world is talking about it and the Church isn’t, one could conclude that the Church must condone it.
David White, author of Sexual Sanity for Men: Re-Creating Your Mind in a Crazy Culture, has much to say about the importance of tackling this topic.
“The positive effects of dealing with these issues will have even broader societal implications. People living within God’s design will not be supporting the porn industry, whose performers, both paid and amateur, are being exploited for someone’s economic gain. A large number of porn performers come from tragically broken backgrounds, and it is not surprising that a great number of them experienced early sexualization, abuse, rape, and incest, as well as continuing to be abused on multiple levels while performing. Human trafficking, the deepest scourge of all, is embedded in this porn and broken sexuality epidemic.”
He continued, “The bottom line is that our silence on this issue is perpetuating injustice. Like those who use illegal drugs and who, by their usage, are linked to the violence and social discord found in countries where the drugs are grown and produced, so engaging in porn equally contributes to global injustice.”
The enemy loves using guilt and shame to keep people trapped in bondage. If the local church has become known as being the center of gossip instead of a place of healing, people will shy away from admitting to their struggle.
People need to know and trust that they are in a safe space to seek healing. But for many, this has not been their experience with the Church. Instead, their personal stories have been shared with countless people. And instead of recognizing it for what it is – gossip, it’s coated in the concept of a prayer chain.
People need to know that the members of their church’s prayer team can be trusted. They do not want to approach someone for prayer when that person is well-known for posting prayer requests which divulge personal information on Facebook. And if they walk into a Bible study group, only to realize that people can no longer look them in the eye, they’ll refrain from seeking help, support, and prayer the next time.
How do we do this?
The answer is simple.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4:29
Nicole Cochran is a blogger who has written about how churches can deal with gossip. She explains, “At Ramsey Solutions…Dave Ramsey has a zero tolerance policy for team gossip. You get one warning, and if caught gossiping a second time, you are fired. This may sound harsh, but it benefits everyone and protects the team and staff culture.”
Truth be told, pastors and ministry leaders are simply unsure of the approach to take. They fear coming off as condemning and judgmental, and often shy away because they instead choose to pursue peace and love. Without a thorough understanding of the addictive cycle, they instead address the issue but provide prayer as the only solution.
Prayer is a powerful weapon in the fight for purity. But renewing the mind is vital. Though a person comes to Christ, they do not get amnesia. The enemy will continue to use the hurts buried within to taunt and tease even the strongest of Christian men or women. Jesus himself was tempted by the enemy, but was able to respond to the temptations by powerfully speaking the Word of God.
Scripture does not become implanted in your mind merely through prayer. It comes through study, which is in essence the renewing of the mind. As one works through this process, seeing Scripture illuminated in light of the character of God instead of the pain within, they are transformed. They are arming themselves with the tools necessary to fight and win.
Paul Cole of the Christian Men’s Network shares,
“There has to be a revelation which produces an impartation of the Holy Spirit; which brings a transformation in my thinking and a revolution in my lifestyle. When all of those come together, then a man changes.”
Despite these circumstances, churches no longer have to feel ill-equipped to deal with the pornography epidemic. Instead, through the use of the Conquer Series, they can glean knowledge and understanding about the devastating impact of pornography.
Created as a men’s small group study, the Conquer Series combines both science and scripture to start people on the path to healing and freedom. It includes expert interviews, powerful testimonies, and engaging cinematic reenactments to grip the viewer with the truth.
For the first time, men will understand why their attempts at trying harder have failed. They’ll gain an understanding of how the brain has been changed, and the importance of renewing the mind. Evaluations of the past will be conducted to expose any wounds that need the healing touch of Christ. Men will find hope. They’ll also become mighty warriors for the Lord as they reclaim their God-given identity.
Is your church ready to enter the battle for the lost and hurting? Are you ready to tackle the issues plaguing society while taking a stand against the schemes of the enemy? Will you fight for those in your congregation who are hurting and paralyzed by fear? For those who are unsure of how to take the first steps to find freedom from the struggle with sexual sin?
As you begin to disciple men and women on the issues of purity and integrity, you’ll notice a renewed strength spread across your congregation. As people find freedom, they will feel empowered to reach the lost in their workplaces, schools, and communities. We will overcome, not only by the Blood of the Lamb, but by the words of our testimonies!
One man writes,
“Thank you for the Conquer Series! I have been privileged to be one of the 1000+ men of Southland Church in Steinbach to have taken part in the Conquer Series…Amazing stuff! Thank you for providing such amazing material to how us God’s amazing love to us. The journey is winding, but so awesome. I have found true freedom in the Lord!”
The Conquer Series is a powerful cinematic series which is helping over 1 million men conquer porn and walk in freedom.
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