Pastors and church leaders, this is a really uncomfortable topic, but it’s vital to the spiritual health of your church. This will be awkward, uncomfortable, and difficult to say: Your church is looking at porn. The problem of porn in the Church is a big one.

You might be thinking, “But nobody has come up to me saying they’re struggling with porn.” Silence on this topic does not mean the problem isn’t present. In fact, pornography thrives in secret, dark, shame-filled, “I can’t tell anyone” places.

That’s the truth. It sometimes hurts. But you need to acknowledge that the problem of porn extends to Christians.

How Do We Know Porn is a Problem in the Church?

We know that porn is a problem in the Church because church attenders are admitting it. An anonymous survey from the Barna Group reveals nearly two out of three Christian men and one in seven Christian women say they look at porn intentionally at least once a month. Some of them look at it more than that.

Pornography use is creating casualties among congregants and church leaders alike, and it proceeds unchecked.

That same survey showed 95 percent of youth pastors said porn is a major or significant problem for teens overall. And more than two thirds (67 percent) of youth pastors say it is a major or significant problem among youth in their own church.

Although it sounds strange, it’s good news that youth pastors are acknowledging the reality of our hypersexualized culture.

But, this isn’t just a teen issue.

The Problem of Porn Isn’t Just a Teen Issue

Consider how the world has changed in the last three generations. For Baby Boomers (ages 51-69) six percent of them saw pornography before puberty. Thirteen percent of Generation Xers (ages 31-50) saw porn initially before puberty. But 27 percent of older Millennials (ages 25-30) saw porn for the first time before puberty. That means twice as many millennials saw porn before puberty than Gen Xers and more than four times more than Baby Boomers.

If you knew that a significant number of young people in your church were involved in drug or alcohol abuse, you would probably focus your attention on those issues. However, we know young people are looking at pornography and the church is doing very little about it.

Here’s how the pornography cycle works:

  • Church attender begins to struggle with pornography.
  • Church attender feels ashamed and doesn’t want to talk about it.
  • Church attender never gets help and keeps the sin a secret.
  • Pastor asks whether church attender is struggling with anything.
  • Church attender says “no,” and the pastor is not able to help.

This is the cycle of shame that keeps your people stuck in sexual sin. In the dark, when kept a “secret,” evil always wins the sexual temptation battle. Why aren’t more churches keeping this issue in the light? A Barna survey asked 770 pastors how many of their churches had a ministry that dealt exclusively with those struggling with pornography. The answer? Seven percent. Think about it. Nearly all pastors admit to pornography being a big problem in society and their church, but only seven percent have anything dedicated to combat this issue in their congregation.

Further, church members do not believe their church is equipped to help them battle sexual temptation. Barna says only 45 percent of self-identifying Christians 25 and older believe their leaders are well equipped to help with someone struggling with pornography.

Even those pastors and church leaders who have identified the issue and work hard to comfort the wounded and mourn the lost look to the ongoing war and feel overwhelmed.

The church is an army, and it is time for it to be called up to the battle. It needs its pastors to lead in this fight. It needs training, gear, and preparation. Every church needs a plan to fight the problem of porn in our churches.

Church Tech Solutions to the Problem of Porn

Fortunately, there’s an effort to help churches in this fight. It started out small but has been gaining momentum. Many churches that have rarely used the term “pornography” are starting to address the topic better now than they ever have.

Over the past year, Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability has been working with nearly 1,000 churches and organizations to face this foe head-on. Through a community effort, these churches are defeating porn together.

This program aims to accomplish three tasks:

  1. It trains the leaders of an organization to recognize the threat of porn on society.
  2. It develops a customized implementation guide and roadmap to address pornography in a practical way.
  3. It provides free educational resources to meet an organization’s specific needs.

The solution is an ongoing ministry approach to church health regarding Internet pornography and accountability. First, the church answers several questions to determine its state of digital health. Each church is different, but the solution includes monthly coaching calls, goal-setting, free ebooks, and a customized 12-month activation plan, staff training, and a free church Community. This is paired with Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability software to provide a blanket of protection over those in the community. A free analysis is available online.

Communities help create an environment that makes it okay to talk about pornography. It breaks down the wall of silence, crushes shame, restores hope and trust in relationships, and builds families up before, during, and even after there’s been exposure to pornography.

Porn is the problem. We can and will beat porn–together.