As a young pastor in Southern California, Craig Gross began to notice a recurring theme among those he cared for – a struggle with pornography. Boldly and courageously, he decided to address the root of the problem, so he went to the porn industry to ask some questions. This passion led him to start XXXchurch.com, a website devoted to telling the truth about porn. It now has had over 70 million visitors to the website and almost a half of million people using X3watch Accountability Software.

1) what are you most proud of in your work with the church and sexuality/pornography?

I am most proud that we have taken an issue that was silent in the church but widespread and in the 10 years we have been doing this we have seen openness to talk about this issue now like I never would have imagined. I find myself speaking at different churches each weekend in different parts of the country that I always ask myself.. are we sure this is the right place? Along the journey, I have met a lot of people that tell me they are accountable now using our software. Its not about the software, it is about the relationships that I believe are changed and challenged because of this conversation and that means a lot to know that we have 1 million people now using our accountability software.

2) what first steps would you challenge a youth worker trapped in addiction to pornography?

Quit your job. Seriously, because the sad part is most of you wont come clean and you will get caught eventually and then you will be fired. If you wont own up and get accountable and get some help then just quit and save yourself and your family and church and kids the heartache of getting fired. Like it or not and I am not saying I agree with this but you will be fired 95% of the times so if you want to keep your job confess. I doubt that is your senior pastor, how awesome would it be if it was but you got to fine someone safe in your circle you can talk through this with so it does not lead to you doing anything crazy offline.

3) what is the goal of Pure Sex?

There is so much fear surrounding the issue of sex and porn when it comes to talking about it. This conversation is not as scary as we have made it out to be. Kids in your youth group are talking about this with or without you. We want you to be in on the conversation and equip you with some tools and resources that will help you lead this conversation. I am excited how it turned out and think this is just an intro to something that each youth pastor can make specific to their youth group. It is a 4 week video curriculum that I think will provide some healthy teaching and conversation on several issues surrounding sex.

4) if you had a few minutes with some key volunteers or small group leaders in our youth ministry, what would you say to them? How does the Volunteer’s Backpocket Guide to Sex play a part in that?

I sometimes take for granted the information we have accumulated because of this ministry. People talk to us and ask us questions they have probally not asked anyone else. I don’t claim to be an expert and at times wont you all the right words but we just wanted to help youth workers and volunteers on a number of issues. This book I believe can sort of be like IKEA instruction manual. Depending on the item I am setting up from IKEA I might need all the instructions or just a few pictures and I am on my way. Some parts of this book might sounds elementary and others you might have no clue what we are talking about but we just thought we would share some of our knowledge and experience from working with kids and answering many of these questions over the last years.

5) anything final thoughts you want to share with youth workers?

Keep doing what you are doing. My youth pastor did youth ministry for 22 years at our church and is the reason why I am in ministry. I get bummed out these days as I don’t see a lot of youth pastors sticking around that long. I don’t know of a more important job in the church today. I know it does not pay as much as the lead pastor or teaching pastor and you don’t get to wear the fancy shoes and Vegas jeans that all those guys seem to be rocking at all their cool conferences but what you are doing is important and matters.

JG

As leaders, I am specifically speaking to church leaders in this post, we are called to be good stewards of the integrity of our church and the Gospel. This is why moral failure, which happens too often today in our churches among leaders, is such a devastating thing. It not only hurts the leader who has failed, but causes damage to the church involved and the message of the Gospel. Recently, Crawford Lorritts, said this in the Elephant Room about leaders and moral failure: “What you do when a leader fails morally happens before the fall.” Too often we wait until a leader has fallen to deal with the issues. Unfortunately, leaders tend to wait until they fail morally to deal with the issue. I believe church leaders today need to take whatever steps necessary to prevent moral failure before it happens. Here are three practical things a leader can do to prevent moral failure before it happens:

1. Have a consistent time with the Lord each day. I cannot stress the importance of having a personal devotional time with the Lord each day! A leader who is not having a daily devotional time with God each day is asking to be taken down by a moral sin. The battle with our flesh and the Devil is too real to not spend time with God each day for the strength we need! Crawford Lorritts also said this: “I have never talked to someone who has failed morally that was not consistent in his time with the Lord.” Consistency with the Lord is they way we grow spiritually and a strong, growing spiritual walk with the Lord is the only thing that will prevent us from moral failure (read Greg Stier’s post called “Lust Will Pick the Lock”). The first thing a leader can do to prevent moral failure is having a consistent time with God each day.

2. Have a strong relationship with your spouse or significant other. Usually before a leader experiences moral failure, his marriage or relationship with his significant other will start to struggle first. Not only should leaders have a consistent time with God each day, they must also have a growing relationship with their spouse. Leaders, stop coming home after work and spending more time on the computer, or Twitter, or checking e-mails. Turn that stuff off and spend time with your spouse! You need it, they need it, your ministry will be more protected when you spend the right amount of time with your spouse! This is so simple, but leaders fail to do it too often. Have a date night each week and never let the love between you and your spouse go downhill.

3. Always have accountability in your life. Leaders, don’t wait until your mess up to get an accountability partner. Seek out accountability relationships even when things are going well. If your married, I believe your number one accountability should be your wife. Then you should have Godly men, or women if you’re a woman, to keep your accountable and ask you the “tough questions.” In a recent post called “3 Ways to Handle Personal Sin as a Leader” I said, “The leader who does not have accountability in their life are asking for the enemy and their flesh to destroy their leadership position.” Don’t be an open target for your flesh, have accountability in your life!

These are just a few ways to prevent moral failure in leadership before it happens. Pray and ask the Lord to help you protect yourself before it happens and costs your leadership position.

Austin is currently a pastoral intern at Weymouth Community Church in Medina, OH. He just finished his Bachelors degree from Piedmont International University in Christian Ministries with a student ministries and pastoral studies minors. He is now working on his Master’s degree, got engaged, and is looking for his first-full time ministry position in the area of student ministry. You can find his blog online at www.austinmccann.com.



The guys over at YouthMinistry360 (I read their blog everyday, you should, too) have come out with a great new resource called Live Different. I love the idea – calling students to understand God’s intent for sex and how God views sex outside of this intent. Might be a good small group curriculum to compliment a youth group teaching series on sex/holiness/lust/etc. Check it out!

JG