The 6 Gauges on the dashboard of ministry.
As we approach the issue of having someone struggling with porn how do we deal with it. First of all I think this isn't a cut and dry answer that can really be perfectly addressed in this blog. I believe prayer,discernment, and grace need to be used well and with abundance as you walk into this situation. Every situation will be different but here are some Gauges on our dashboard we can keep an eye on as we start to walk this road.
1. The Gauge of Struggle
This gauge has to do with assessing the issue. As you uncover a serving members struggle with porn you need to somehow get an honest and open evaluation of the struggle. You need to know if this is a daily occurrence, a struggle that's held at bay and then all of a sudden a fall, or something all together different. I would also ask what type of porn this person is struggling with. Assessing this will pay dividends in walking through this issue and understanding the member and their struggle.
2. The Gauge of Service
This gauge can help you decide very quickly what your initial response should look like. This can make a difference to keeping this person in ministry and asking them to take a break. Leadership has different levels and different requirements. Is this person serving in Children's ministry or Youth? Is this person a core leader or just someone who is serving once a month? All these differences require different responses. Once you've assessed the type of struggle and then figured out the level of leadership the type of response will start to take shape. If the person is Serving in Children's Ministry and is struggling with child porn issues this should probably be addressed as a top priority of removal. On the other hand if the person is struggling with porn and is serving once a month on greeting ministry this may not necessitate such a rapid response. My guiding principle is always the safety of our church and the people that attend. That has to be the guiding principle in assessing the issue. Once you are sure of safety for everyone than you have time to address the issues and start down some sort of recovery and restoration process.
3. The Gauge of repentance
Keep a watchful eye on this gauge. It will give you great insight in understanding the heart of the member. When we are truly broken and understand the depth of our sin we become repentant. I look for this as a great sign of what to do. If the person is unrepentant and can't see where they have strayed off the path, removal is almost always a swift and decisive action. On the other hand if the person sees and understands their sin and has a deep heart of repentance then that is a sign,at least for me, of a heart that Jesus is working on.
4. The Gauge of Marriage
Ministry is Hard. Serving in a church can put a stress on even the healthiest of marriages. I believe that the marriage should come before ministry. If we allow our marriages to fall apart in the name of serving we lose our witness and our strength. If the strain of porn is putting a major strain on the marriage than a time away may be a great start to woking through this issue.
5. The Gauge of recovery
In my opinion this should be the most monitored gauge on the dashboard. As you walk through this issue behavior modification is not what you want. Yes stopping looking at porn is a great start but a change of heart is what we all desire. A heart that longs for our spouses and not for the empty promises of porn and what that sin brings into our lives is what we are after. I say this because as people struggle its not a perfect record that we should use as a measuring stick but a depth of recovery and accountability that we can use to see progress.
6. The Gauge of Grace.
In my opinion this has to be the biggest Gauge by far on your dashboard. Having Grace and love for the people we are shepherding is a great place to start. I have seen this issue dealt with well and poorly and I believe it has come down to how valuable we believe this gauge is and how much we value the people involved. Jesus is a God of grace and restoration and he calls us to those values as well. Using grace in these situations is crucial to walking down this road. Grace doesn't mean we allow the struggling member to do what they want but grace means measuring all the factors and continuing to reevaluate the situation with love. Grace means keeping the persons restoration in the forefront.
Hopefully as we walk through this we would do this humbly and honestly. I hope that as a pastor dealing with such a destructive force we can do it with grace and dignity for all involved. My prayer is that the Church and the individual sees the kind of restoration that brings glory to God and gives hope to the church.
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