Let’s Talk About Sex

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In 1991, the all-female hip hop group, Salt-n-Pepa, released a song titled, “Let’s Talk About Sex.” It was their biggest crossover hit, and sealed their positions as hip hop royalty. I might have been in the sixth grade when the song was released but I knew the song, and sung the hook even when I wasn’t absolutely sure of everything they were talking about. My parents didn’t know.

The irony of the track was they were singing and rapping about a taboo topic. At that time few people talked about sex in public (at least not among strangers) when most adults, both single and married, were actively engaging in the activity. But they also rapped about how sex can be used as a weapon, not for love, and how people can engage in irresponsible sexual practices. Near the end of the song, they call for all their ladies to talk about sex.

Well today, I’m answering that call. I want us to talk about sex!

Pastors Hurting Children

This week I have been troubled yet again of a news report of two pastors in Tennessee who were recently arrested in a human trafficking sting. These pastors were among 32 men charged with prostitution and human trafficking where children were being sold online for sex. One of these pastors served as a children’s minister, the other as a “Creative Pastor” at a different church.

While my heart does grieve for these churches, their families, and everyone in the community, that does not negate the fact that children have been hurt here. Children have been intentionally hurt in ways that can have long-term ramifications, and that grieves the heart of God.

This must stop! And the only way it will stop is if we start having open and honest conversations about sex and slavery inside the four walls of the church. These conversations must be had among men, women, and appropriately with children in our congregations. Human trafficking is a sin that must be named and confronted.

Children have been intentionally hurt and that grieves the heart of God. Click To Tweet

A Few Facts About Sex Slavery

Human trafficking, also known as modern-day slavery, is the commercial exploitation of individuals through sex, labor, or both where force, fraud, and/or coercion are brought to bear in keeping victims locked into slavery.

From my personal experience in engaging this advocacy work, I know that:

  • When a teenager is purchased for prostitution or pornography, she is a victim.
  • People can solicit sex regularly and attend church faithfully.
  • People can watch pornography in the privacy of their homes and still serve on the elder and deacon boards at your church.
  • Folks can claim they are “happily” married, single, or whatever and still violate the human dignity of another person by purchasing them for sex.
  • Slavery is a problem today all around the world. It is a problem in my community, and most likely in yours, too. And, “yes,” it is even a problem in the church.

The facts remain:

Do you want to talk about sex now?

According to the Global Slavery Index, there are 35.8 million people enslaved worldwide. Click To Tweet

Sex and the Spiritual Battle

Slavery is a spiritual battle. It is one of the ways our enemy seeks to kill, steal, and destroy lives—both the lives of the perpetrators and the victims. With slavery, everyone loses.

Whenever I sense that I am entering a spiritual battle, I pray, Luke 8:17.

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. (NIV)

Sin thrives in the darkness, and our enemy, Satan, works at night. John writes throughout his gospel about the contrast between dark and light, and the spiritual forces of evil that oppose the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in the world. Light exposes the darkness. Therefore as people of the light, we must take what is done in secret and expose it or bring it to light. Only through this exposure can people truly see and the truth be made known.

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For the past few years, I have served as an anti-human trafficking advocate. This work began simply by exposure—offering education and awareness events in my local community surrounding the issue of human trafficking or modern-day slavery. When I hosted an event, by-in-large, the audience included women. When I discussed this issue with pastors, somehow the Women’s Ministry Director or a woman in the congregation was identified as my primary point of contact. Sexual exploitation and human trafficking are not a women’s ministry issues! The abuse of sex, especially against children, is an issue for the whole church to know and actively engage!

As my advocacy continued, I became knowledgeable about the International Justice Mission (IJM). IJM is a human rights organization that rescues victims of violence against the world’s poor. It is the largest international anti-slavery organization in the world.

Freedom Sunday

It is with great gratitude that I report: There is something you can do about this issue now. Make the commitment to talk to your pastor, educate your congregation and your friends about the upcoming Freedom Sunday. Freedom Sunday will be held at churches all across the country this year on Sunday, September 25, 2016.

Find out more and get started by visiting the IJM Freedom Sunday website where IJM will provide the following tools:

  • The “Sermon Resource Kit” includes a sermon on God’s heart for justice complete with scripture notes. Scripture reference options: Luke 4: 18-21, Isaiah 58:1-14, or Luke 10:25-37.
  • Signage, poster templates, presentations, and resources for our lobby.
  • Digital assets for every facet of the worship service, including videos, slides, and more.
  • Small group questions for our Community Groups, content that is age appropriate for children, a social media guide, promotional announcement slides, other components for the worship service, and help from the IJM support team.

Don’t be afraid to talk about sex. You can do something to stand against slavery. And please don’t forget to pray.

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  1. My biggest fear is simple. I’m a paid full-time pastor, and I have no idea what I’d do to keep my family afloat (and we don’t even have kids yet). I also don’t know how I’d get there from where I’m at today. How do you guys do this? Do you have people come live with you for a while and learn the vision, and then go forth from there to seed new communities? Are there other places like you where one could go and become a part of an organic sending community? I love this post, btw. And I can’t wait to see what other say.

  2. Michael,whoah … alot of good questions … Let me just state up front … we’re in the process of doing this. Another basic assumption is that all “pastors”/leaders will be are preparing to be bi-vocational – sharing the labors of leadership – and growing from there. Much to talk about, hopefully we get some discussion here.
    Peace .. and hope to meet along the way.

  3. I came as part of a team and followed the Church planting 101 model. Didn’t burn out but we all came close and probably have various underlying issues we need to trust God will work out in his time.
    David, we’ve been morphing into what you are describing – both as a mission team living incarnationally and church community that is striving to be less 101 and more organic throughout. Alan Hirsch (and Michael Frost) has been very helpful to us as a team and the organization I am still with.

    To answer Michael’s questions. Some context: I was a banker and left ‘secular’ work to do ‘sacred’ work as a church planter. I’ve since had my theology reformed – heavenly good of earthly work – and have been moving away from being 100% support based (really only 50% support & all donors from the USA). Now I opened a business that is increasingly and very soon to be 100% of our support. An angel investor helped me do this but I was formerly a banker and that field wasn’t what I thought was my next step as it meant moving further away (proximity and lifestyle) from the missional leadership community I have covenanted with.

    If I had to give advice about a shift or finding others. First, I’d do what a graduating student or person contemplating a change of careers would do. Look at your gifting, skills, speaks with trusted friends/colleagues, survey the needs of the community you are in and take a educated plunge into a new/different line of sacred work; perhaps morphing into something that is part time paid church work and part-time other? For me it was originally connecting with a church planting organization that had values and approaches that were missional and incarnational rather than a prescribed model. They valued diversity in approaches and teams. Second, for finding others, I’d work through existing friendship or networks within your denomination/church. You’ll likely find others who would have a similar desire to be a covenanted missional leadership/church planting team. From there lots of dialogue & prayer to confirm agreement/unity in the Spirit. It the end, it might mean that you stay put and just change the way you do things locally amongst your existing friends. I recommend Alan Hirsch’s book the Forgotten Ways (page 40-42 talk about their personal & community shift).

    As a side note to this post: I have found I am providing personal (pastoral) counseling to employees, building friendships with customers, displaying godly work & Kingdom values as I network with other businesses, am worshipping like mad as I am so hungry to be filled and generally feel more in touch with my gifting in my current business owner role than I did as a full time support based missionary church planter. For me, it was realignment rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water!

    Peace, Mike

  4. […] thinker, pastor and professor David Fitch has a great post on the common fears people have of planting missional churches (Fitch is also a great writer. I highly recommend his book The Great Giveaway for all Christian […]

  5. This was an excellent post, and my first time on this site. For me as an African-American, I feel like a missional church is completely outside the box for many from my the black community and context, and leaves me wondering what kind of support we will receive from local churches. Many of the concerns mentioned above are also legitimate concerns for me as well.
    Nonetheless, I have been praying with a close friend about doing such. Again thanks for the post.

  6. Dave,
    I wanted to go to the back porch, but when the end of the week rolled around I opted for an unquiet night with the fam and little caesar, instead of quiet hot dog and discussion.

    This is partially off topic, but related so I’ll shoot. I know you are committed to the 150 limit for churches; what happens when you get there. The most organic thing that comes to my mind is a 50/50 split or 67/33 split where a significant part of the community decides as a group to meet together in a different location. Some of the paid and unpaid leaders tranistion with the new community as well and in both places new leaders will need to be identified and brought up in time. Any thoughts?

    I do really appreciate your thoughts on the missional order team though. I would think that these missional orders would be formed from start, yes?

  7. I am currently planting a Church in Nor-Cal. I work full-time having raised most of my support working with an organization.I find that most fear of Church Planting in any paradigm is rooted in the idea that failure will consume you.
    I want to encouarge anyone considering church planting because of what God has done in me through the process. I used to be so unhappy in my church employment. I have never been more happy, fulfilled, filled with joy since following this call. I would have loved to plant with a team but there was no one I knew willing to take that risk. But that has been a blessing because it has caused us to seek out friends and partners.
    I have found God doing more through asking people to serve with us rather than join a Bible study. That is the essence of planting in our current culture. Serve before you gather. Just some thoughts from some one on the field six-months.

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