In the last year Temple Baptist Church, Jamestown, ND, has been inviting men to be part of the Conquer Series. Recently I spoke with Jack and Ellery, asking how this program got started.
They shared that their interim pastor at the time recommended they search out a curriculum to help men deal with pornography. Some statistics indicate that as many as 7 in 10 men IN THE CHURCH watch pornography on a regular basis.
They did some research and decided to use the Conquer Series. The curriculum is framed as a two-part, 10-week course that includes a manual and journal for each participant.
As the former lead pastor of the church, I was encouraged to hear that they were purposely and practically addressing this issue. What surprised me was when they chose to offer it. During Sunday School.
Jack said, “It’s designed to be used as a small group, but we decided that we wanted (a time) when as many men could participate as possible.”
As they got into the series, they realized that an hour was not long enough, as sessions are meant to be 1 ½ to 2 hours in length. This gives more time for discussion in smaller groups, beyond viewing the video teaching of each session.
Some of the groups met earlier to provide more time for discussion.
“You get into really personal stuff,” commented Ellery. “Guys get to admitting their use of pornography. You have to get to the point of being vulnerable to other guys.”
I asked about the downside of not having anonymity as to the meeting time. While that may be a factor, the involvement over 50 men from the church has been a positive outcome.
Viewing pornography chemically changes the brain, so simply trying harder, reading the Bible or praying more doesn’t address the underlying issues and usually leads to more defeat. These things need to be joined with understanding, time and accountability, as God works in lives to bring them to wholeness.
Ellery shared how a related accountability app has been helpful. I was reminded again of the importance Scripture places on our need for each other to walk with and grow in Christ.
Those participating are guided in their discussion with a “memo of understanding,” sign a covenant and take a self-test.
I asked, “What are you hearing about how this is helping
Some college students shared how they are realizing their participation impacts not just their current, but future relationships. Viewing pornography distorts how we view ourselves and others. After they began meeting with other men, these students began to treat their girlfriends differently . . . and their girlfriends noticed the changes in their lives.
“Some of our married guys said how free it made them feel because they were hiding it from their wives.” The material instructs men how and when to confess, which is part of the recovery process.
“People are becoming more aware of porn being an issue, instead of just ignoring or not talking about it. . . Men are developing accountability partners that they didn’t previously have.”
Both men highly recommend the series. Jack said, “The material is very authentic. It is challenging.” He added, “There has to be a lot of prayer and sincerity with the leadership of the church and those involved,” in choosing to address this issue.
TBC has offered the series twice, with Ellery also leading another group in a nearby community. The church is looking to offer the series again this fall. Pastor Steve Davenport, new lead pastor, is enthusiastic about continuing to offer the material.
While pornography is not just a problem for men, I thank God for an approach, a church and men who are willing to seek real Biblical answers to help them in their formation in Christ.
Paul challenges each of us who have “received Christ Jesus as Lord” and identify with Him in His death, burial and resurrection, to grow together in Him. “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4 “You” is in the plural form in each verse.
We need each other to help seek and set our minds on the One Who is our life.
Northern Plains Regional Minister