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"Pornography is the greatest cancer in the church today."

—Chuck Swindoll, Insight for Living Ministries

Trena Mewborn, director of counseling at First Baptist Church on the Mall in Lakeland, Florida, said that many struggling with pornography feel they are somewhat unique.

"This feeling," she said, "especially in the Christian community is that nobody in this church understands, nobody struggles with this. I am really this pervert or I am really this deviant?"

But studies show that feeling is far from accurate. Pure Desire Ministries conducted a survey of Christian men and found that 68 percent of men view pornography on a regular basis. Additionally, over 50 percent of pastors admitted doing the same.

The shocking numbers prove that the church cannot pretend a sexual addiction problem does not exist. It must be addressed. Too many lives are being devastated and negatively affected to ignore it any longer.

For example, Tom Wolfe explains, "I was a youth pastor and I used pornography as a springboard really into a full-blown sexual addiction. And I had a moral failure—a series of failures—and I was found out. And obviously lost my job, lost my church, lost my youth pastor's job and for a while, lost my family."

He said he might not have fallen into so much sexual addiction if he had felt he was able to freely confess and talk to somebody about his pornography use.

How a Pastor Can Deal With Pornography

When a pastor realizes what is happening in his church, he typically responds by praying with men who he knows are struggling or does a sermon or a sermon series on the topic and leaves it at that. But more needs to be done.

Dr. San Serio, president of Healing Sexual Hurt, said, "You might think people in your church are way beyond and immune to the temptation of pornography. Most church leaders will ignore this topic. When they do mention it, they're usually quite loud and vehement in their public condemnation of pornography. After church, they'll get pats on their backs congratulating them for such a fine and long overdue sermon."

"May I ask you: Would you want to come to that preacher for counseling after hearing what he or she just said? Would you expect the preacher to scream at or belittle you once again privately in his or her office as was done from the pulpit on Sunday? What tone do you communicate? That's what I ask myself about this and all other sexual topics from the pulpit, and it's a good question to ask yourself!"

"Do you know how to preach to men (or women) who are addicted to porn? Do you preach in such a way that they would want to come to you for help because they feel you do understand and would not condemn them? Do you communicate condemnation, as well as restoration in your message?"

A sermon series is a great start to provide overall teaching about God's call to the church for sexual purity, but it is essential for churches to run ongoing discipleship. What men really need is not just a sermon, but a process.

It is vital that the process is based on grace. Men struggling with pornography addiction already wrestle with guilt and shame, so adding condemnation compounds the issue. Grace must be at the center of the process from the very beginning.

Join the Movement of Churches

Petra Church in Pennsylvania is part of a movement of churches who have created an ongoing ministry to deal with pornography. These churches use an extremely valuable and proven resource for implementing an effective process called the Conquer Series.

This dynamic two-volume DVD series includes 10 teaching videos (30-45 minutes long each) and two DVDs to assist leaders in using the lessons and format.

The videos are ideal for small groups and home study, and include action-packed cinematic battle reenactments, powerful interviews with brain experts, and testimonies from famous male Christian role models.

The Conquer Series also features a study guide for each volume and a personal journal packed with exercises and information to reinforce the principles of the series through setting goals and action plans for the week. Small accountability groups are a core element of the process.

Paul Leninger is the executive director of operations for Petra Church. He shares what they've seen happen in their community: "We are seeing men changed within the first 2 sessions of the Conquer Series because they know they are not alone in this, and they feel free to fully disclose their struggle," says Leininger.

Learn more about how Petra Church is dealing with pornography.

The Ongoing Process

The sermon series should lead into the announcement of the Conquer Series. Then run the two volumes of the series over the 10 weeks. At the end of the 10 weeks, encourage the men to find other men who they can guide through the series.

For those who have gone through the Conquer Series twice, offer them the Seven Pillars of Freedom. Seven Pillars groups are designed to provide a safe place to process addiction, build a lifestyle of accountability and find healing.

Ideally, you should end up running the Conquer Series four times a year so that new men can join. You should also run the Seven Pillars of Freedom simultaneously so men can move into it at the end of the Conquer Series.

Now is the time to engage your church in the battle against pornography. As Mewborn summarizes, "The more we as a church start putting it out there, I think the more people will feel like they can go to someone, they can ask for help, they can seek out some friends for accountability. It needs to become something that we don't just try to brush under the rug."

Get started today. Click here to order the Conquer Series.

This article originally appeared at conquerseries.com.

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