Pastor Equipping Webinar: Combating porn in the church

How can pastors and church leaders help the people in their congregation struggling with pornography?

According to a recent study, 87% of people say that no one is helping them in their fight against porn, and 54% of those couldn’t even think of anyone who could help.

Pastor Luke Hukee of Walnut Creek Church in Des Moines shares key insights, strategies, and help for churches who want to help people find freedom from addiction to pornography:

Research Resources:

Josh McDowell: The Porn Epidemic Portfolio
The Porn Phenomenon by the Barna Group
Fight the New Drug.org

Ministry Resources:

“Clean” by Doug Weiss
“The Game Plan” by Joe Dallas
Conquer Series
“Redeemed Sexuality” by Andrew Boa
“Sexual Sanity for Women: Healing from Sexual and Relational Brokenness” by Ellen Dykas
“Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken” by David Powlison

Accountability Resources:

Covenant Eyes
Accountable2You




Relive the 2019 Holy Week Service at Iowa Capitol

The 2019 Holy Week Service at the Iowa Capitol was held Monday, April 15. The annual service allows the community to bless elected officials and Capitol staff by providing a time of worship and reflection on God’s Word at the beginning of the week that leads up to Resurrection Sunday.

The theme of this year’s service was “Second Chances,” which mirrors the theme for this legislative session established by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. Cal Swan, the superintendent of the Central District of the Evangelical Free Church, delivered a message that focused on the “second chance” of redemption offered by Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection.

Following the service, attendees were invited to join the governor in her office, as she signed a “Second Chances” Proclamation, which has similarly been signed by governors in more than a dozen states.

While no video can capture the powerful experience of praise and song echoing through the Iowa Capitol Rotunda, you may watch a video of the service below.

Below the following video are time codes, which you can click upon to skip to designated parts of the service itself:

0:00 – Opening worship
10:37 – Greg Baker ~ Welcome
15:50 – Isaiah 53:1-6 ~ Read by Joshua Christian Academy students
17:41 – Cal Swan ~ Message
44:25 – Closing Worship
49:40 – Greg Baker ~ Closing remarks




National report: TFL changing the ‘spiritual temperature’

On a wintry, snow-covered Wednesday in February, a film crew from Christian Broadcasting Network, or CBN, flew from Washington, D.C., to Des Moines to cover a story in the Heartland that has national implications.

The work of The FAMiLY LEADER’s Church Ambassador Network had piqued CBN’s interest. And when the network heard Iowa’s successful model of building intentional relationships between pastors and legislators was now spreading to other states … CBN booked a flight to Des Moines to learn just how TFL is changing the way the Church interacts with government in America:

Watch CBN’s coverage of TFL’s Church Ambassador Network below:

Through ministries like the Church Ambassador Network and the If 7:14 prayer initiative, The FAMiLY LEADER is pioneering a strategy of inspiring the Church to engage government for the advance of God’s (not man’s) kingdom. Rather than a politics-first approach, TFL’s model focuses first on cultural transformation, anchoring our ministry in prayer and leading with the gospel.

TFL recognizes that a Church that is biblically and authentically engaged with government will not only transform individual lives and relationships, but also impact elections, influence policy, and lead the way toward a revived America that honors God and blesses people.

And now, though “The Daniel Initiative,” TFL is exporting this model of authentic Church engagement to other states. By partnering with sister state organizations of The Family Policy Alliance, TFL’s “The Daniel Initiative” aims to build a fortress of states that can transform a nation!

TFL is grateful to CBN for covering the powerful impact of our ministry and grateful to you, our supporters, for enabling us to embark on the bold, nation-transforming vision of The Daniel Initiative!

Do YOU want to see a Church revived and impacting government in a biblical way? Your support of The FAMiLY LEADER will help spread The Daniel Initiative across America!




God’s incredible favor at the Capitol

“God is working in Des Moines, and – wow – we get to be a part of it!”

As the Church Ambassador Network begins another year of ministry at the Iowa Capitol, The FAMiLY LEADER’s vice president of church engagement, Greg Baker, reflects on how God is granting favor and opportunity for real ministry, right in the heart of government:




Iowa pastor blesses community ‘from conception to last breath’

by Daniel Sunne

Pastor Ricky Rohrig Sr. of Crossroads Community Church in Red Oak, Iowa, told The FAMiLY LEADER why his heart was drawn to serving women in crisis pregnancies: “Because back in 1973, a 15-year-old girl became pregnant, and she chose to give me a chance for life.”

When Rohrig was adopted at three days old, his teenage mother couldn’t have known he would devote six years to helping young mothers like her through the Pregnancy Center of Southwest Iowa. Nor could she have known he would one day serve as chaplain to long-term elderly care facilities in Red Oak and Villisca.

“God has got me in ministry from conception to a person’s very last breath,” says Pastor Ricky of his unique pastor’s role. “The full spectrum.”

In May 2013, Rohrig, while pastoring a small church in Red Oak, started as chaplain for the town’s Good Samaritan Society long-term care facility. The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, the largest non-profit of its kind in the nation, is a 95-year-old Christian organization offering several options for senior housing and care.

Between the facilities in Red Oak and Villisca, Pastor Ricky today serves around 90 residents as chaplain, but his work only begins there. Even as he cares for residents through visits, daily devotions, regular church services, and simply watching Jeopardy with some, he counsels family members and acts as a liaison for other pastors who have congregation members in the residence.

“We want to provide spiritual care, not just to residents, but also to residents’ families,” he says.

His life verse is “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV). As Pastor Ricky describes his work with seniors, the wisdom of that verse becomes evident.

“When I started five years ago,” he told TFL, “one of the things I had no knowledge of was [how] on a daily basis they probably impact me more than I ever will them. Just gleaning that wisdom from them, just taking the time to sit down with them and learn!”

Pastor Ricky vividly described an elderly, Christian gentleman who daily visited to care for his wife. As the woman eventually became unresponsive, Pastor Ricky told the husband how much he respected him and his daily presence.

The man replied simply, “We’ve had our ‘for better,’ this is our ‘for worse.’”

That example inspires Pastor Ricky both professionally and personally: “I have so much respect for him, and I hope that we will all have that care.”

In addition to caring for residents, Pastor Ricky offers services to staff, provides counseling and a weekly Bible study, and chairs a committee that seeks to equip staff to “more fully share God’s love.”

“I’m blessed that I’m bi-vocational,” he told TFL, “but everything I do is ministry.”

His work as a pastor has not decreased either, of course. On the last Sunday of February 2014, Crossroads Community Church, a Baptist Convention of Iowa church plant, had its first service.

Pastor Ricky has been with the church plant since it began. He calls church planting the hardest thing he has done in ministry thus far, but appreciates the support other pastors and his denomination have provided.

“We’ve had mission teams from various states,” he said. “Southern Baptist mission teams have come up and worked on our building.”

Crediting a former Methodist pastor, Pastor Ricky sees his “office” as the community itsef. Every year, his church goes door-to-door, trying to reach the unchurched in the community around them.

“If you do the math,” he explains, “our mission field is the 7,400 around us who don’t go anywhere.”

His outreach to the community, his care for those around him, and his own special connection to the issue led Pastor Ricky to the Pregnancy Center of Southwest Iowa. In 2012, he started on the board of the pregnancy center, which describes itself as “a Christian-based organization that instructs, assists, and encourages women who are pregnant or think they may be pregnant.” The center and its team of both paid and volunteer staff offer a variety of services, including pregnancy tests, counselling, supplies, prayer, and ultrasounds.

The Knights of Columbus recently donated a brand-new ultrasound machine capable of detecting a heartbeat at 18 days.

“Eighty to eighty-five percent of all mothers will change their mind [on abortion] once they see a heartbeat,” Pastor Ricky says.

During two years that Pastor Ricky served as executive director, the pregnancy center moved twice, eventually making its home in a beautiful, two-story, former doctor’s office in Red Oak. Through the generosity of the seller and donors, the building was purchased with almost no debt. Pastor Ricky describes the process of getting the building as “one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen God do.” The center now plans to open a thrift store and potentially have an apartment to bless mothers in tough situations.

While Pastor Ricky is no longer directly involved in the pregnancy center, the new executive director attends his church, and the congregation still supports it.

Pastor Ricky Rohrig’s ministry remains to care for the whole community, from the beginning to the end of life.

“The big picture is Matthew 28,” he says, “one life, one person, one situation at a time.”

Daniel Sunne serves as policy liaison for The FAMiLY LEADER




Pastor, ‘Come and See’ what God is doing

As another Iowa legislative session begins, Greg Baker invites pastors to discover how God is using church leaders to change the culture of the Capitol:

Learn more about the Capitol Project and how YOU can join this life-changing mission field today!




Combating pornography

The Church Ambassador Network has teamed with Pastor Luke Hukee to combat pornography in the Church by working to free many people from pornography’s bondage. Check out virtual equipping meetings, resources, and interviews from Pastor Luke Hukee:

Pastors,

One of the greatest threats we are facing in our churches today is pornography. The research shows it. Our churches are filled with people who are enslaved to pornography. I wish I could say our people look different than the world, but at least in this area we don’t. Many of our saints who love Jesus, as backwards as it sounds, are addicted to porn. And here is something maybe even crazier: 93% of churches have nothing in place to combat it. But we can change that. By God’s grace we can develop ministries or implement materials already available to help our people find freedom from something that is crushing so many of their lives. Listed below are a number of resources that we have found helpful in the fight against porn in our church. I hope these resources listed can be of assistance to you.

With grace,

Luke Hukee
Pastor, Walnut Creek Church

Join Pastor Luke Hukee to learn about the blight of pornography in and outside the Church and how churches can combat pornography behind their own walls.

Pastor Equipping Seminar: Combating pornography

Listen to Pastor Luke Hukee discuss pornography and more on Faith Works Live, 99.3 FM

Research Resources:

Josh McDowell: The Porn Epidemic Portfolio
The Porn Phenomenon by the Barna Group
Fight the New Drug.org

Ministry Resources:

“Clean” by Doug Weiss
“The Game Plan” by Joe Dallas
Conquer Series
“Redeemed Sexuality” by Andrew Boa
“Sexual Sanity for Women: Healing from Sexual and Relational Brokenness” by Ellen Dykas
“Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken” by David Powlison

Accountability Resources:

Covenant Eyes
Accountable2You




‘Doing life together’: Des Moines church rethinks poverty

by Daniel Sunne (Photo: Des Moines Register)

For 25 years, Phil Herman fought gang growth in the Chicago metro through social work. Caring for troubled kids from poor families, Phil learned firsthand the traps good-intentioned Christians fall into when helping the poor. Now Pastor Herman is guiding a church plant in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Des Moines, as they operate a thrift store, a preschool, a six-week summer program, and even rental housing for low-income neighbors.

“I’d come from poverty, and I was going to continue to work in poverty,” Pastor Herman told The FAMiLY LEDER.

After 25 years in Chicago doing full-time social work and part-time ministry, he returned to Iowa, realizing he could do both. Originally taking an associate pastor position at Fellowship Community Church in Norwalk, he felt drawn to leave the growing suburb and minister in the poorer areas of Des Moines.

“When I started exploring the north side of Des Moines, it was very similar to what I experienced in Chicago,” he said. “It felt like coming home.”

When Pastor Herman approached the Evangelical Free Church of America Central District about starting a church plant in the Highland Park neighborhood, he had no idea they had been looking for someone to do exactly that for four years.

Highland Park Community Church started by building relationships with families through programs at Madison Elementary School. True Bible Baptist Church and Pastor Rod Bradley partnered with the new plant, both in reaching out to the school and by allowing them to use their building on Saturday evenings. This partnership continues, as the churches work together on youth programs, remodel True Bible Baptist Church’s building together, and even share periodic joint services.

Still a church plant, Highland Park Community Church has an aggressive, ambitious vision for community outreach.

“How can we provide services to the community that meet a need, but still point people back to the Church,” Pastor Herman asks. “We’re supposed to the light in the darkness.”

Their first of four objectives the church targets is economic development that recognizes the dignity of the church’s neighbors. Highland Park Community Church operates the Renew Resale Shop, a thrift store that expects its patrons to pay reasonable prices for quality donated items. Patrons can work at the store helping with needed tasks to earn in-store credit. By requiring patrons purchase or earn products, patrons leave with dignity and a sense of accomplishment. The church can also support its other ministries from resources brought in by the store, rather than the other way around.

“This is a place where the community feels welcome,” Herman said. “The staff of Renew Resale spend a lot of time listening and praying with people. That’s not normally the case with a thrift store.”

Obria Clinic, a women’s health service with clinics around Iowa, is also partnering with Highland Park Community Church and will be opening a clinic in partnership with Renew Resale Shop, pointing once more to the comprehensive vision for care for their community.

Highland Park Community Church’s second objective area is educational enrichment and youth development. In partnership with other local churches, the church hosts afterschool programs at local elementary and middle schools and is working to expand programming both in the schools where programming is already offered and to the local high school. Further, the six-week “Summer Adventure Camp” provides educational and Christian teaching to elementary students, offering a safe, productive, and fun option for students.

Preparations are also well under way for a third objective, the Precious Beginnings Children Center.

“There is a desperate need for safe and quality places for children’s care,” Herman said. “We want to provide here the safety and quality that a kid in West Des Moines or Ankeny has.”

Their final objective emerges when you listen to Pastor Herman speaks passionately about the injustice he observes in rental housing in his neighborhood: “The Old Testament prophets speak long on this – that it is wrong to take advantage of the poor.”

A February Des Moines Register article describes housing provided by one notorious Des Moines landlord who had only 17 of 45 inspected rental properties pass code inspections. Desperate residents are afraid to report landlord violations without the money to find better housing, many even lacking the legal protection of a lease.

Highland Park Community Church now owns two properties and has one rent-to-own contract. The church plans to have 5 properties by Christmas. Pastor Herman hopes to set an example as well as provide affordable housing for desperate families in the Highland Park neighborhood.

Pastor Herman believes the lessons he learned from Chicago and the examples set by pastors like Wayne Gordon and Raleigh Washington in Chicago are important for his new home in Des Moines.

“I do believe that Des Moines is behind in their understanding of how to help people in poverty,” Herman told The FAMiLY LEADER. “I think Des Moines has a lot of good intentions, but good intentions aren’t necessarily biblical; we can do things that make us feel good that God doesn’t want us to do. I’ve seen a better way.”

Unlike most organizations, Highland Park Community Church expects recipients to pay back into its anti-poverty programs. As well as helping support the church’s ministries, Pastor Herman believes this model better follows biblical examples of charity and avoids the lack of accountability that often grows up around well-intentioned Christian giving. The church’s summer program charges a small fee, the Renew Resale Shop gives nothing away, and housing costs are fair, but not free. If someone can’t pay, they are either expected to pay when they are able or to provide volunteer work.

Citing a lesson learned giving away free products in Chicago, Pastor Herman states that in giving free gifts, “Gratitude turns into expectation, which turns into dependency.”

Motivated by the mission to share the love of Christ with its neighbors, Highland Park Community Church’s members continue their work Des Moines. Pastor Herman is driven by his love for his neighbors: “The attitude we’re trying to foster is, ‘We’re going to do life together.’”




Pastor Equipping Webinar: Religious liberty

Continuing the monthly equipping webinars for pastors, the Church Ambassador Network hosted a webinar on religious liberty. Chuck Hurley, TFL chief counsel and ADF-allied attorney, presented on the history, current status, and future of religious liberty, as well as practical steps churches can take. Check out the webinar recording as well as resource links below:

History of religious freedom in America

Protect Your Ministry booklet

Albert Mohler’s The Briefing




Pastor Equipping Webinar: Election 2018

The FAMiLY LEADER Vice President of Church Engagement Greg Baker introduces a new initiative of TFL’s Church Ambassador Network: webinars for pastors!

In this introductory webinar, Greg specifically discusses nonpartisan materials pastors can use with their churches leading up to the Election Day on Nov. 6:

Learn more about Honoring God 2018 by clicking here now!




Iowa churches light the way after devastating storm

by Daniel Sunne

On Thursday, July 19, a tornado ripped through Marshalltown with wind speeds reaching 144 miles per hour. Over 700 homes were damaged, and around 90 of them were destroyed. The Courthouse clock tower was toppled, and the main hospital, City Hall, police station, and veterans’ home all received extensive damage.

Pastor Dave Martin was in his church, Faith Assembly of God, with around 15 others preparing for a block party when the tornado hit.

“The tornado just missed us by a half a block,” Martin told The FAMiLY LEADER. “We were just a block and a half from the real bad stuff.”

It was immediately apparent the town had been devastated. Seven or eight families from Faith were affected by the tornado.

Marshalltown tower

The next morning after the storm, churches considered the damage and went to work. Pastor Kerry Jech with New Hope Christian Church described meeting with church staff Friday morning: “They were all out there cleaning, all of our staff just pitched in. We divided up into teams and just went out.”

Before there was even time for a coordinated plan, churches and volunteers were cleaning up debris and carrying hope into Marshalltown. New Hope Christian Church had 25-75 volunteers a day for 10 days divided into groups cleaning up the city.

Disaster relief organizations responded quickly, including Christian organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, the Salvation Army, and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. Many operated out of churches and with church help. Faith Assembly of God hosted Convoy of Hope, which brought in two semi loads of emergency relief supplies, including water and food as well as often forgotten necessities like diapers and cleaning supplies. And churches came or sent volunteers too, from Waterloo, Reinbeck, Des Moines, and even Nebraska and Missouri.

As organizations conquered clean up, churches tackled other community needs, such as meals for those affected by the storm. Faith Assembly of God served over 8,000 meals in 10 days, and First Presbyterian Church served hundreds of meals every evening for three weeks. Pastor Martin’s church gave away quarters at the laundromat, so those without power or in shelters could take comfort in clean clothes. His church paid for $1,000 of laundry.

Iowa State Rep. Mark Smith from Marshalltown wrote in a statement, “The light of the faith community was certainly shining brightly after this disaster. Churches offered refuge, provided meals, ensured the people in the community were safe, and turned out in mass to help with the clean-up. The efforts are continuing: Trinity Lutheran has provided space for the Mid-Iowa Community Action Agency (MICA) to distribute emergency funds, First Presbyterian offered meals, and Central Christian Church is becoming a Week of Compassion Church that will bring in teams to repair during the coming months. Second Baptist continued to hold services in their badly damaged church so that members continued to have the security of their worship center. The Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Disaster Relief efforts arrived in town very quickly and helped so many. The Salvation Army responded as they do so often and provided services even though they, too, were victims of the storm. These are just a few of the efforts that have occurred in our community. I am so very thankful for all the efforts of our faith community!”

Rebuilding Marshalltown remains an immense task, but in clean-up and in the disaster itself, God’s hand was visible.

“The entire thing, God was in the process,” said Pastor Jech. “To have the kind of weather that we did [during clean-up after the tornado], to have the people cooperating … it goes back to what Joseph said to his brothers: ‘That which you intended for evil, God used for good.'”

PLUS: Watch the story of the man who received salvation in Christ through the storm in Marshalltown!




The Timeless Voice: Politics are not our gospel

Commentary by Greg Baker

Politics, by its nature, builds partnerships and tribes, bands of brothers who rally around a common cause. But for the believer, if we are not careful, politics can become a counterfeit of our true partnership in the gospel, a counterfeit that robs us of the life Christ has for us.

A few weeks ago, I went on an annual excursion with guys from my church that we call the “dudes’ trip.” It is always a time of fun and encouragement. On this particular dudes’ trip, we wanted to focus on true Christian fellowship, what Paul described in Philippians as a being “partners in the gospel” with one another.

For true Christian fellowship builds something more than friendships. Partners in the gospel share way more than common interests. They become a band of brothers, war buddies in a larger, spiritual battle. Paul and Silas, Paul and Timothy, Peter and John are all examples of partners in the gospel. They were a band of brothers forged by laboring in the trenches, shoulder to shoulder, for the lives of the saints and the lost.

Partners in the gospel are marked by their love for one another (John 13:35) and their heart for others. They warn those who are idle, and they help those who are weak. They go into the lost world and labor to bring souls to Christ. They go to war against the forces of darkness, and bring the light. They cry and mourn together. They celebrate together. And more.

This is what my wife and I hunger for in the “community” group from church that meets in our home. We want more than friends who come together periodically to read the Bible and go to services on Sunday. We want more than friends with a common interest. We truly want this partnership, and the only way we are going to get if is if we quit talking about the Great Commission, and actually go out and live it.

Politics, too, can build a band of brothers. Politics is very much a contact sport, a battle that brings people close together. For the believer, however, if we are not careful, the partisan and political divide can be confused what the “partnership in the gospel” the Bible describes. We can mistake our fervor for policy and influence with our mission to be ambassadors for a higher Kingdom. And we can confuse our political war buddies with our truer brothers in Christ.

The distinction can be difficult to discern, because our political goals are often inspired by our Christian values. It is not wrong to desire to bring justice and to defend the oppressed. It is not wrong to take up the widows’ and the orphans’ cause. These desires spring from a biblical worldview and a heart for people.

Where things often go wrong, however, is our priorities. The first misstep is when our focus on the policy makes the policy itself the end goal, rather than spiritual transformation. And when policy is the end goal, we can slip into thinking those who share our politics have allied with the side of light, while those disagree have allied with darkness. Our ideology becomes our gospel, and converting others to our politics takes on religious fervor. And when ideology becomes your gospel, anyone who labors with you becomes your band of brothers, your war buddies, your “partner in the gospel.” It’s just the wrong gospel.

If we do not guard ourselves from this, we will give our entire lives to fighting a political battle and miss where the real battle is fought. We can neglect to encourage and build into the saints. We can neglect to witness and win the lost to Christ. As a result, we will not raise up disciples. And the net result will be we lose the “culture war” we thought we were fighting, because without Christ and His Great Commission, we will lose the culture.

Our greatest protection against this temptation is to remain grounded in the local church. The local church, not political parties or policy organizations, is the hope for the world. The local church is who has been commissioned to raise up disciples. If we give our lives to building Christ’s Church and keeping our focus on Kingdom work, we will discover our truest band of brothers, our partners in the gospel.

And here’s the revolutionary, long-term perspective: When we band together with partners in the gospel, under Christ, we will see people transform around us. We will see people’s lives change. And as lives change, they change the community around them. What’s more, if we apply this gospel-centric, life-changing, disciple-making perspective to our civic engagement, it can revolutionize our government. Revolutionize how we interact with government officials. And revolutionize how we treat both our political allies and our political foes.

So, each of us – especially those of us active in government and politics – must ask ourselves, “Do I truly have partners in the gospel? And am banding with them to build Christ’s Kingdom and His Church?” Because your true partners in the gospel are your best defense against partnering in the wrong gospel.

Greg Baker is vice president of church engagement for The FAMiLY LEADER.