Thursday, October 25, 2007
We have had glimpses of this army the last seven years. One recent glimpse came at the AACC World Conference. We watched our own volunteers and realized the transformation taking place in each of their lives, as they are now serving the Lord instead of being in bondage to shame. I looked at the glow on their faces as they answered questions and served the people; and I realized again that only Jesus could bring this about and that being Jesus to each other in the support groups will continue to bring this growth into full bloom in the next few years. The statistics speak for themselves: even within the Christian community 47% say that pornography is a problem in their home. Sixty to ninety percent of Christian men and one out of three Christian women are sexually addicted. In an anonymous survey conducted by Leadership magazine, seven out of 10 lay leaders in the church admitted to visiting adult Web sites at least once a week. When pastors were asked the same question, four out of 10 said they did the same. Paul Harvey has reported that internet pornography is the fastest growing addiction in the United States, with 82 million visitors to such sites each year; and one-third of those are women. If this isn’t the biggest problem within the church today, I don’t know what is. Pastor Jack Hayford has said that if the church doesn’t address this problem then it will rob the church of its life and power. Consequently, we need to join forces and be the army that keeps that from happening. Preparing for this new season in L.I.F.E. Ministries will involve building and embracing that vision, by reaching out to the people who are called to be a part of this army. How do we do this?
In order to help the large numbers of Christians struggling with sexual addiction; we need to realize more financial support from the groups to be able to enlarge the ministry, do more training, and develop additional resources to provide a close-knit community to support and reinforce the army with skill and love. To start, we are going to send to a survey to some of our largest groups, asking them to identify their needs. We’ll also have these same questions available on our website for all to answer. We will use these answers to set our priorities and address the needs of the recovery community. Also, starting in February, we are going to have a monthly training for the spouses’ and men’s group facilitators, but all can join in this web based training. And we continue to pray for the finances to have an annual L.I.F.E. Ministries conference where we can all get together for further training and to build community. These are just a few of the things that we hope will build and equip the army, and the surveys should tell our headquarters team where we need to put additional efforts as well.
In this eighth year of new beginning, let’s always remember that love will continue to be the greatest key for the church the next 7 years. Let the L.I.F.E. groups demonstrate this love of Jesus to all those in attendance, and to all in the church. I remember that I had to leave the church for several years because of the shame of my own sexual addiction—it wasn’t’ a safe place. Let our groups and our churches be that safe place for all who need this love, because without love we are nothing and whatever we accomplish without it profits nothing (l Cor.13). Let us grow and mature in love as we seek the Lord’s purposes for our lives. Ask God for a vision of how you can minister out of the healing that He is providing for you. Even within Christ’s Church, this cancer is destroying lives and families; and keeping people from their God-given purposes. We pray that you will be a part of this army; fully engaged in this battle to encourage, empower and equip God’s people to live everyday in sexual integrity—to the Glory of the Lord.
We love you,
Our endeavor to equip and provide tools and resources that are focused on rising up compassionate, powerful and effective Group Facilitators brings L.I.F.E Ministries into a season full of innovative strategic planning. As our culture becomes more and more complacent on sexual depravity, we as Christian Warriors must also respond.
Recently, in my ponderings of how to better serve sexual addicts who muster up enough courage and humility to walk through the door of a sexual addiction support group meeting, the Lord reminded me of my own experience. This is why I’m excited about our new L.I.F.E. Orientation Guide; “The Beginning Journey”.
Remembering my own beginning journey and what it was like when I found an audio lecture or an article that helped minister hope and healing to me about my sexual sin, I began to compile a library of resources I could reflect on as I progressed in recovery. Those articles, books and CD’s became like priceless gems to me in that they helped me gain courage and humility to defeat my pride and denial, and ultimately helped restore my broken relationship with a compassionate and forgiving God.
As a Group Facilitator, I was passionate about having enough of this kind of information to give to a new person who came off the battle field broken, wounded and confused about what was happening in his life. Reaching back into a now vast and diverse collection of articles, devotionals and booklets, I fashioned “welcome packets” for every new person who decided to come to my meetings. It was important to me that these wounded souls could perhaps take home a small “nugget” of hope.
Through time the packet evolved into an educational asset. Many of these wounded souls had spouses, family or loved ones who had questions about sexual addiction and we added intuitive material that helped to “jump start” their understanding of the many “facets” of our addiction, and how all this came to be and what the road to recovery looked like from our perspective at the “starting line”.
The Beginning Journey is a collection of thoughts, articles and concepts that Group Facilitators will find useful in preparing a new member for the journey into the L.I.F.E. Guide and the format of your meeting. Much of this material has been said in other places by other people, but I think that we can all agree that redundancy in recovery is a good thing.
The intent is to provide an integration or orientation tool that will challenge new group members to answer some basic, honest and realistic questions about themselves, their perspective, and their readiness to begin the journey of recovery. The Beginning Journey is divided into a four week, “101” style format. Each new member will be assigned a mentor or temporary sponsor to help answer questions and elaborate on the material. Basic accountability is established in that at the conclusion of each week a challenge is issued by the Guide to the new member that he or she will need to check-in with to the temporary sponsor. The booklet will also provide the Group Facilitator with the opportunity to encourage and share the inclusion process of new members with mature group attendees. This can allow the Principle work of the L.I.F.E. Guide to continue seamlessly for the mainstream of the group.
Finally, and most importantly, the Orientation Guide offers a “no-risk” trial for a new group member who (as I’ve seen so many times before) reaches a reluctance or resistance stage in the early phases of recovery and may pull back or completely quit of the group. This booklet then becomes great “seed” material which can serve as a L.I.F.E. Saver at another time.
The early days, weeks and months of recovery are a delicate and volatile time for addicts, their spouses and families. This integration process can help to resolve some of the “unknowns” that arise. The booklet uses questions to encourage self-reflection and can act as an “internal motive checker”.
The Orientation Guide has been smartly designed to be a modulated tool in that as new concepts, ideas and strategies come forward from people like you, the Group Facilitators, the booklet can be kept fresh, innovative and current with those strategies. We invite you to be prayerful with us in our vision to provide a new ideas and tools to sexual addicts, their spouses, families and to you. May God bless you in your commitment to the lives and wellness of the members of your group, ministry and life.
With Shields Locked,
The American Association of Christian Counselors hold their World Conference every two years at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. This conference attracts pastors and Christian counselors from across the country, so you can understand the importance of our attendance in September. The L.I.F.E. Ministries booth was located in a prime location that received heavy traffic – and great interest.
The first year that L.I.F.E. attended this event, many people scanned our booth from a distance, quickly diverted their eyes, and walked by very fast. We were the only booth that addressed the issue at the time. Sexual addiction was still an unspoken problem in churches eight years ago. Now, we are one of the most heavily attended booths in the exhibit hall.
This year, rather than a skeleton staff, we had staff and volunteers travel from Florida, Wisconsin, and California to help out at the booth. And the crew was busy! Counselor and pastors would stop and ask questions about the materials, the ministry, and thanked us for the work that L.I.F.E. is doing. In addition, several of our already existing groups came by to share about the fruitful work of their L.I.F.E. support groups.
While there, Bob Hale and I traveled the eight rows of booths and connected with other ministries and organizations that could benefit from our resources. These organizations included residential treatment programs for sexual addiction, ministries for helping pastors with a range of difficulties, and troubled teen programs. We are following up with these contacts to help them integrate L.I.F.E.’s time-tested resources into their existing programs.
Our attendance at AACC’s World Conference creates a strain on the budget every two years as we do not recoup our costs at the conference. But the exposure and awareness pay off in the long run. If you agree that AACC’s World Conference was effective, and you are led to, please consider making a one-time donation to accelerate the recovery of L.I.F.E.’s expenses at www.freedomeveryday.org/aacc or by calling (866) 408-LIFE.