No Pain No Gain

By Carl Thomas

This month I am turning 50. That’s right… 50!!!

And while the reality sets in that I am officially becoming “old,” I am super thankful that I can say my level of fitness does not reflect my numerical age. In fact, I score in the top 10% for most categories of health for men of my “vintage” (body fat, heart rate, etc.).

However, it has not been an easy road.

Since I turned 40 I had two major muscle/tendon tears (pectoral and bicep) and three different surgeries for sport related injuries. All of these incidents set me back and required a lengthy recovery process.

And to be honest… there were many times I thought to myself… “Why bother?”

I mean there is nothing more frustrating than working your butt off in the gym to get healthier and stronger only to get hurt and having to start over.

But what kept me going and motivated was the high value I placed on my health and the refusal to stop striving for better in the face of setbacks and discouragement.

In other words, the payoff was too great to stop.

Why do I share this? Well it’s not to brag. I promise you. But to emphasize a time old truth… nothing great or of real value ever comes easy. Or in fitness junkie terms… No Pain, No Gain.

And while we are all familiar with this phrase and understand the wisdom behind it, many of us have a hard time embracing it.

This month we are going to be focusing our posts around the (organizational) church …more importantly, how the church can get better at addressing pornography. 

And I want to be clear on this… 

Our goal this month is NOT to bash or hate on the church. 

Our goal is to challenge the church to strive for better in the way we handle this topic.

The truth is that the subject of pornography is not an easy one. It’s often awkward, uncomfortable, and extremely challenging. 

It’s not sexy (ironically).
It’s not uplifting.
It’s not encouraging.
It’s not inspiring.

Real talk? 

There is no obvious ROI (return on investment) for a church to aggressively tackle this issue because doing so is probably not going to increase giving or put butts in the seat. 

In fact, it may have the opposite effect.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the following when talking to church leaders about their lackluster efforts to help people struggling with porn.

  • It’s very hard trying to find someone who can lead.
  • It’s a difficult subject to preach on or talk about on a Sunday.
  • It’s hard to get anyone to actually respond or participate when we have offered something.
  • It requires too much attention when there are other pressing needs.
  • I don’t have enough expertise to talk about it knowledgeably.

All of these are very reasonable and legitimate objections. 

But that doesn’t mean we avoid the real challenges of doing so because the stakes are too high.

Here are some quick stats:

  • 20% of youth pastors admit to currently struggling with porn.
  • 53% of all pastors within the last 12 months have learned that someone they know in ministry struggles with porn.
  • 47% of Christians say pornography is a major problem in their home.
  • 64% of pastors who use porn believe that it has on some level negatively impacted their ministry.
  • 59% of practicing Christian married men have sought a pastor’s help for porn use.

Yet…

Just 7% of pastors say their church has a ministry program for those struggling with porn.

The reality is this, we have to do more.
We have to do better.

And while this means we will certainly come up against setbacks and frustrations, if we push through the pain and discomfort we can all experience a tremendous breakthrough.

I understand it’s very easy to be a critic when you don’t have to do the job. 

But there needs to be a change.

Because unlike some who say the church would just be better to back out of this stuff completely, I believe in the calling of the church and its important role in restoring a broken world. 

Let’s be the salt and light that Jesus called us to be all the time, not just when it’s easy or convenient.

 

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