"The bubonic plague of today's church."
That’s how Jay Dennis, senior pastor of First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Florida, described pornography while visiting the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).
“Churches are facing a spiritual battle against a hidden plague that is keeping many believers from fulfilling their part of God’s mission,” Dennis said.
Dennis had already taken the men in his church through a six-week study on the issue of pornography—a study that revolutionized his church.
“The men were hungry to have practical tools to address the temptation to view pornography,” Dennis said. “A sense of revival broke out as men openly confessed their struggles in a safe environment. On the last night of our study, we invited the men, including their sons aged ten and older, to make the porn-free commitment.”
Richard Land, president of the ERLC, affirmed the support of the ERLC in helping pastors and churches across the Southern Baptist Convention to address the issue of pornography. Land knew the national Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) had been leading believers to learn about and address issues related to human exploitation through its Project HELP initiative. So he reached out to Wanda Lee, WMU executive director, and invited WMU to partner with the ERLC in publishing Dennis’s resources for a church-based ministry to men and their families who want to commit to live pornography-free lives.
Taking the initiative to the next level, WMU and ERLC are partnering with Dennis’s church to launch the Join 1 Million Men in the War Against Pornography campaign at the 2013 SBC annual meeting June 11–12 in Houston, Texas.
“Since human exploitation has been the focus of Project HELP beginning in 2010, WMU leaders are aware that pornography is one most significant spiritual forces of evil of our day,” said Lee. “The church must be vigilant in the fight against pornography and demonstrate the power of God to redeem those who have been trapped in its grip.”
Lee said partnering in this project was a natural response as WMU recognized the urgency of raising awareness and providing resources churches can use to help their members understand the destructive impact of pornography on their families and their relationships to God, and live free from it.
New Hope Publishers, a division of WMU, is taking a leading role in the partnership.
“We couldn’t think of a better place to launch these products and this national movement than at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention,” said Andrea Mullins of New Hope Publishers. “We know pastors in the SBC have the same heart as Jay—they understand their responsibility to shepherd and guide those who God has placed in their churches, and that especially means when those in their congregations are struggling with sensitive issues.”
The Join 1 Million Men in the War Against Pornography campaign has a goal of one million men participating nationwide and one million women praying for them and their families.
As a church-based program, Join 1 Million Men in the War Against Pornography includes the following resources:
• Our Hardcore Battle Plan A–Z—A thirty-two-page booklet to be purchased by churches to give to their members.
• A book for men that includes a six-week study and other helpful information.
• A DVD and church ministry planning guide in six segments to be used in six sessions.
• A book for wives and families.
• A website, Join1MillionMen.org
• An app with access to a daily Scripture and other resources to assist individual believers in the daily war against pornography.
Mullins explained that the Join 1 Million Men movement is a church-based ministry to men and their families in which men encourage other men though open discussion and accountability, and wives learn they are not alone and discover tools and support for partnering with their husbands to keep pornography out of their lives and their homes.
“Pornography is such a pervasive issue,” Dennis said, “and it can be a difficult and sensitive issue for pastors for various reasons. They may struggle with it personally or feel ill-equipped to address the issue, but that’s where this resource will help. Men in our churches want the tools to help themselves and fellow brothers in Christ who are struggling.
“This movement is about more than asking people to sign a commitment card,” Dennis continued. “It is a lifestyle. It is time to open this door of conversation, and it is going to take pastors [and those in leadership] to do it.”
As this porn-free movement grows, Dennis believes it will have an impact on other churches similar to what his church experienced. “We saw men begin to take back their role as a leader in the church, taking back what Satan had stolen,” he said.
Maegan Roper, marketing and sales manager for New Hope Publishers, invited “every pastor, church leader, and wife or mother who is concerned about the influence pornography has on our culture” to stop by the Join 1 Million Men in the War Against Pornography campaign booth in the SBC exhibit hall to learn more about this movement. Dennis, author and founder of Join 1 Million Men, along with other volunteers, will be at the booth to answer questions about how to get involved and support this movement.
According to Roper, the app—called Join 1 Million Men—includes Scripture push notifications that distribute Bible verses directly to men’s smart phones or electronic devices to help fight against impure thoughts. It also contains video footage of Dennis from the Join 1 Million Men DVD, testimonials from men who have overcome their addiction, endorsements from well-known ministry leaders, and more. After it debuts at the SBC annual meeting, it will be available for free and can be downloaded from Join1MillionMen.org, the movement’s official website, or the iTunes app store.
For additional information about this movement and its supporting products, visit newhopedigital.com.
Compiled and written by Julie Walters, with contribution from the WMU communications team.Julie is the corporate communications team leader for WMU and is a member of Hunter Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.