Avoid Ministry Porn

For most pastors, it usually starts with the opening of a laptop. Sometimes it’s on a smartphone or tablet. Often, another pastor recommended it.

With a few simple clicks, the video rolls or the sound begins. The faces and voices are familiar, but the settings change. The best sites have fresh content. New things never before tried or seen. The more shocking, the better.

Hours go by. Work is ignored and relationships are minimized as the pastor is sucked in.

Ministry porn.

It’s seductive, addictive, and pervasive among young pastors.

ministry porn

The good news is that I’m not talking about pastors who consume actual pornography through sexually illicit content (though statistics show this is too common).

The bad news is that I am talking about something that is hurting church planters and pastors everywhere, killing their creativity, work ethic, and productivity. By extension, this problem is afflicting the churches these men lead.

So, what is “ministry porn”?

Ministry porn is voyeuristically viewing how other pastors and churches do ministry, fantasizing about their lives and situations, and, thus, avoiding the real work of leading people and building your own ministry.

Take a few moments to consider the problems with actual pornography and you’ll see why this idea is dangerous for pastors.

1. Porn is an escape. People use it to escape their stressful lives, difficult marriages and personal insecurities. Similarly, ministry porn provides an escape from leading real ministry, which is often filled with tough decisions, unrealistic expectations, and difficult people.

2. Porn is a way to avoid real intimacy. It is a “false intimacy,” offering the illusion of being loved, wanted, and enjoyed while the user is actually alone, ashamed, and afraid of real relational depth. Similarly, ministry porn offers the illusion of impacting people while the pastor is actually avoiding real relationships where he could make a real difference.

3. Porn is unrealistic. It involves not-even-close-to-ordinary people doing things that most real people do not do. Similarly, ministry porn involves out-of-this-world leaders who are often in very unusual ministry situations. Comparing your ministry to the top 1% of church leaders and their churches—filled with more money, talent, and resources than you can imagine—will inevitably leave you feeling dissatisfied with reality.

4. Porn is distractingly available. Technology means porn is available anywhere at anytime. Those struggling with porn find this to be an almost-constant distraction. Similarly, technology has allowed pastors access to ministry porn they would have never had 20 years ago. Blogs, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook provide persistent opportunities for distraction from real ministry and real people.

5. Porn is deceitful. One time an engaged guy told me he needed to watch porn to do research on how to make love to his future wife. Terrible idea. Total deception. Similarly, pastors can succumb to ministry porn while convincing themselves they are doing research or just trying to learn. There’s obviously a better argument for this than the one the engaged guy was making. But pastors should be careful. What starts as genuine learning can easily turn into you being a busybody, keeping up on what the celebrity pastors are up to.

In my experience of church planting, I’ve fallen into ministry porn too many times. I love to learn, I’m well connected, and I’m pretty good with technology, making me an easy target. But, too often, I’ve wasted time and energy following what other guys are doing more than actually developing what God has assigned me to do. Thus, I’ve had to closely monitor how much time I’m spending watching talks, reading blogs, and skimming social media feeds. At times, I’ve had to take a break or significantly trim my subscriptions.

Doing ministry well is hard work. It demands big buckets of emotional energy, time with people, intense study, and strategic thinking. In church planting, everyone you lead is a volunteer—making your work even more challenging. All of this can make you want to escape.

Don’t do it. The joy of ministry comes when real people have been impacted by real work, time and relationship.

 

Published by

Luke Simmons

I was born and raised in Denver, CO and lived there through high school. Then I moved to Champaign, IL where I attended the University of Illinois and played on the Fighting Illini baseball team. I was married in December, 2001 to Molly, who I met at the U of I. In June of 2002, we moved to Phoenix and have been here ever since. In July of 2006, we welcomed a baby girl, Abby, into our family.

6 thoughts on “Avoid Ministry Porn”

  1. As a mom some of this can apply! Reading on the internet what other families and moms are doing can suck the life out of you. It takes your focus off your family and away from God. It kills your joy because you compare yourself to other moms.
    Thanks Luke!

  2. Wow Luke, this really hit home. i have been struggling the last couple of months with “blogger porn” in the same way. I find myself hungrily consuming blogs, wasting valuable hours and feeling empty and miserable afterwards. It seems that technology has given everyone a voice but I must guard my heart. The Gospel lived out is a lot more than spilling words on the pages of my blog.

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