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

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

4 U.S. senators confirm for Family Leadership Summit

The FAMiLY LEADER announces four U.S. senators – Tom Cotton of Arkansas, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Tim Scott of South Carolina – have confirmed they will address the 8th annual Family Leadership Summit at the Ron Pearson Center in West Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday, July 12.


Get your tickets to the Summit today!

In addition, Sens. Lankford and Scott will present a discussion on their unique approach to personal, racial reconciliation, which they’ve dubbed “Solution Sundays.” The idea is to intentionally invite families of other races to their homes to share a meal.

“Just to have normal conversation, it breaks down barriers, it sets a good example for your children and quite frankly develops relationships that can only happen around a table,” Lankford told CBN News. “It doesn’t have to all be about race. It can just be about friendship.”

“We have benefitted from just being able to break bread with someone who’s not quite like you,” Scott agreed. “I have benefitted from having diversity as a part of my everyday life, which I think is a blessing from God. I think He made us all differently so that as a body of Christ, we fit together and we provide something that the other part could not have provided.”

Cotton, Lankford, Sasse, and Scott join four other, confirmed speakers for the Summit thus far: actor and comedian Brad Stine, BlazeTV personality Steve Deace, Rob Roozeboom of Rise Ministries, and Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The FAMiLY LEADER.

The list of additional invitees includes U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, author and youth evangelist Nick Hall, Pastor Tony Evans, and U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley.

Earlier this year, The FAMiLY LEADER made national headlines by inviting the top seven Democrats (by poll standing) seeking the presidential nomination to the Summit. All seven Democrats, however, declined the invitation.

Further announcements will be made when invited speakers confirm their attendance.

The annual Family Leadership Summit brings to the Midwest prominent, national leaders from a variety of fields to encourage Christians to engage in Christ-centered cultural transformation that “thinks bigger” than politics and elections to impact not just government, but also churches, families, and individual lives.

Learn more about the Summit – and register for your tickets – here!

Family Leadership Summit invitees announced

The FAMiLY LEADER has announced the list of invited speakers – some confirmed to attend, some yet unconfirmed – to the 2019 Family Leadership Summit on Friday, July 12, at the Ron Pearson Center in West Des Moines, Iowa.

The list includes prominent names from the faith community, culture, and government – including Pastor Tony Evans, comedian Brad Stine, and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. Not all of the invitees, however, have confirmed their attendance.

“We’ve had so many people ask us who will be speaking this year, we felt it necessary to make an announcement about who we’ve invited,” says Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The FAMiLY LEADER. “At the same time, amid a busy political year leading up to the presidential caucuses, many of the invited speakers can’t yet officially confirm their acceptance.

“So today we’re releasing the list of the invitees to reaffirm that attendees can expect the same, inspiring blend of national faith, culture, and government leaders that makes The Family Leadership Summit such a unique and can’t-miss event,” Vander Plaats said.

Discover more about the Summit and get your tickets today!

The list of invitees includes U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Blaze TV personality Steve Deace, Dr. Tony Evans, author and youth evangelist Nick Hall, Rob Roozeboom of Rise Ministries, actor and comedian Brad Stine, and U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst, Chuck Grassley, James Lankford, Ben Sasse, and Tim Scott.

The list includes only those whose invitations remain outstanding. Earlier this year, The FAMiLY LEADER made national headlines by inviting to the Summit the top seven Democrats (by polling average) seeking the presidential nomination. But as all seven declined the invitation, their names are not included in the announcement.

Additional announcements will be made as invitees confirm their attendance.

Gov. Reynolds signs judicial nomination reform into law

The FAMiLY LEADER was at the Iowa Capitol Wednesday, May 8, to witness and celebrate Gov. Kim Reynolds signing a law that reforms how Iowa nominates judges to the State Supreme Court.

The law grants Iowa’s governor an additional, Senate-confirmed appointee to the commission that nominates judges.

For years, Iowa’s system has allowed a small group of left-leaning attorneys to dominate Iowa’s judicial nomination process. Regardless of who was elected governor, the system enabled attorneys to ensure a liberal majority on Iowa’s Supreme Court – as evidenced by a study that revealed Iowa has the second most left-leaning high court (compared to the people of the state’s views) in the country.

But with the signing of this law, the people of Iowa will now be given a greater voice through their elected governor in choosing Iowa’s Supreme Court justices, hopefully providing a more ideologically balanced and representative Court.

“For the first time,” Gov. Reynolds summarized at the signing ceremony, “the majority of the nominating commission will represent the people of Iowa and not just the Bar and the Bench [referring to attorneys and judges].”

Watch TFL’s Bob Vander Plaats and Chuck Hurley explain why this is a momentous victory, over 50 years in the making:

The FAMiLY LEADER celebrates this significant improvement to the system and honors Gov. Reynolds for leading the charge to give the people of Iowa a better, fairer, and more representative form of government.

Help us pack the House! Special offer for students

For a limited time only, LEAD students are invited to bring friends for free!

While we are excited many returning students are taking advantage of the new Senate and Media tracks we are offering this summer, we want to ensure House track students have the full experience we offered last year. So, until we receive 15 additional registrations, each returning LEAD student can invite two friends to join the House — for free!

The only stipulations are that your friends cannot have attended LEAD before and that they must register for the House. To participate, please email us at with your friend’s full name, or call us at 515-263-3495 so we know to expect their registration. In the payment field, write, “Pack the House: Sponsored by [Your Name]”

Download the LEAD registration packet here!

What is LEAD? Watch the recap video of LEAD 2018:

…Not your typical summer camp
At LEAD, we believe the best time to start being a leader is now, and the best way to learn is to do it. That’s why we run authentic leadership simulations where high school students have the opportunity to experience the roles of community leaders first-hand, making decisions that would affect millions of people as a state legislator. Mix that in with engaging biblical worldview discussions, faith-building worship and chapel, a hearty dose of games and recreational activities, and awesome relationships built throughout the week, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what LEAD looks like.

What does LEAD stand for?
Learn to live out your faith in the real world.
Be Empowered to fulfill God’s purpose.
Act like a leader: learn by doing!
Discover & unlock your God-given potential.

LEAD is a week-long leadership experience in Des Moines, Iowa where teenagers find themselves in the middle of the action, role-playing as legislators. These experiences are as real as it gets!

Facilitated by?
The leadership and team of The FAMiLY LEADER.

July 28th through August 2nd, 2019


On the beautiful campus of Grandview University, 2811 E. 14th. St., Des Moines, Iowa map>>

Teens entering 9th grade to those who have just finished 12th grade

$595. scholarships are available.

Spread the word!
Click here to download, print, fold and hand out the 3 panel brochure to
anyone who may be interested in attending LEAD.

LEAD_2019-sm…a summer program by The FAMiLY LEADER • July 28 – Aug 2, 2019 • Des Moines, Iowa

TFL’s Capitol Connection: Session is over! What happened?

The FAMiLY LEADER’s Drew Zahn sits down with TFL Capitol Team members Danny Carroll and Daniel Sunne to give a run-down of several of the key bills that have either passed or fallen by the wayside this Iowa legislative session – including three major developments that passed in a flurry in session’s last two days!

TFL’s Capitol Team is YOUR voice for biblical values in the Iowa Legislature. Support their continued work today!

In the “Endgame,” it’s all about Jesus

by Drew Zahn

190426 endgame poster“Avengers: Endgame” is the capstone to a 22-movie, epic, intertwined storyline that spanned time, science, magic, and the far reaches of the universe. The movies have made billions of dollars at the box office. And with its release this weekend, “Endgame” will become nothing short of the biggest event in moviemaking history, as we will witness the film shatter – nay, obliterate – virtually every record in Hollywood.

How curious it was, then, to discover upon watching “Endgame,” that in the end, it’s all about Jesus.

Without spoilers, let me explain what I mean …

For several years, I worked as a film critic for, analyzing movies not for their cinematography or acting chops, but for their worldview – in other words, what the movies taught our culture about God, about truth, about humanity, and more.

Across the Marvel Cinematic Universe of movies, or “the MCU,” as superhero movie fans call it, I noticed several times that these comic book heroes spoke to us about God.

There was the time in the first “Avengers,” when Captain America declared, “There’s only one God, ma’am.” Or when the Hulk took the Norse “god” Loki and slammed him to the ground, laughing at the false deity with the scoff, “Puny ‘god.'” I even pointed out the outright blasphemy of the villain in “Age of Ultron.”

And so we come to the grand finale, “Avengers: Endgame.” This culmination of a 22-film franchise is a three-hour masterpiece of a blockbuster movie. It has “all the feels,” as my teenage daughter says, and despite its long run time, I would run back to the theater to see it again.

But as the opening scenes began to unfold on the screen before me, I caught myself wondering how the filmmakers would do it. How do you create a capstone for a story that took roughly 45 hours of screen time to tell?

As the movie progressed, it dropped a few hints. Then, at the climax of the film, it became suddenly clear. There’s only one story, one theme that’s big and deep enough to support that kind of narrative weight. It’s the great story. The story of a solitary hero, with the weight of the world on his shoulders, who saves all of humanity … by laying down his life.

The makers of “Endgame” didn’t try to invent something new; they borrowed from something old: “Greater love has no one than this,” Jesus said in in John 15:13-14, “than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are my friends.”

Yes, “Endgame” was a story of revenge and repentance, of healing and redemption. And, yes, it preached some values of the zeitgeist as well, with a token “gay” scene and a rousing “girl power” moment. There were a few moments in the film where the characters spoke life lessons and spouted theoretically poignant lines that may or may not have been in line with biblical truth.

But in the end, what made the teenage boys behind me in the theater begin to cry – I mean legitimate tears down their cheeks – was the story of sacrifice, of 1 John 3:16, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.”

I won’t spoil “Endgame” for you by naming who lives and who dies.

But if you do see the film, you’ll know the story isn’t just make-believe on the movie screen. There really was a hero who died to destroy the grave, who loved his friends so much he laid down his life.

And for this story, it’s no spoiler: The real hero’s name … is Jesus.

Drew Zahn is director of communications for The FAMiLY LEADER.

TFL invites top Democrats to civil discussion at the Summit

As Iowa’s caucus season approaches, The FAMiLY LEADER has extended invitations to the leading national candidates seeking the Democrat nomination for president to The Family Leadership Summit on Friday, July 12, 2019.

A similar invitation was extended to Republican candidates in 2015, and it resulted in one of the most interesting, engaging, and best-attended summits to date. The candidates each sat down to an interview on stage, and America was given a deeper look into the hearts of those seeking to lead our nation.

Now, TFL is offering the 2020 Democrat candidates a similar format and opportunity.

“Several of these national leaders have expressed a desire to see a more united America and are seeking to represent the American people,” says Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The FAMiLY LEADER. “But that will be hard to do in today’s divided political climate. So The FAMiLY LEADER is offering an opportunity to restore civility to the national dialogue. Our goal is to discuss faith and the role it plays in presidential leadership, regardless of political affiliation.

“The invitation is consistent with the annual Family Leadership Summit’s tagline since its inception, ‘Principle over Politics,'” Vander Plaats explains.

Read Bob’s column in the Des Moines Register, encouraging Democrats to reconsider refusing the invitation!

The invited individuals include former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Invitees were selected as those polling above 3 percent in the Real Clear Politics average on April 22, 2019.

The Family Leadership Summit traditionally extends invitations to national leaders from the Church, culture, and government to speak to Iowa’s faith voters. In the past, those invitations have included prominent figures from both political parties.

Confirmed speakers for the Summit will be announced as the date nears.

The purpose of The Family Leadership Summit is to inspire, motivate, and educate people of faith regarding worldview application and the most pressing issues facing America’s families. The Summit will provide the opportunity to engage with national leaders and hear their leadership vision on the issues that matter most to the future of America.

Reserve your tickets today! You will be the first to know when tickets go on sale!

Watch video recaps of previous Family Leadership Summits here.

Press credentials will be required for media at the event. Please contact Drew Zahn at to request press credentials.

Here’s who stood for families, against gambling

There are 49 Iowa legislators – from BOTH parties – who deserve our thanks today.

These men and women stood up for Iowa families by voting “no” on a bipartisan push to expand gambling in Iowa.

Despite evidence that legalizing online sports betting will only increase the number of problem gamblers – leading to chronic financial and relational strain on Iowa families – a bipartisan effort in the Iowa Legislature pushed through a law this week that will expand gambling in Iowa to sports and online wagering.

A total of 31 legislators in the House and 18 in the Senate, however, refused to vote for the damage this new gambling law will do to Iowa families. These men and women – from BOTH parties – deserve our thanks! Those legislators include:

Iowa Senate:
Jerry Behn
Joe Bolkcom
Jim Carlin
Claire Celsi
Jake Chapman
Mark Costello
Randy Feenstra
Julian Garrett
Eric Giddens
Robert Hogg
Herman Quirmbach
Ken Rozenboom
Jason Schultz
Mark Segebart
Amy Sinclair
Zach Wahls
Zach Whiting
Brad Zaun

Iowa House:
Rob Bacon
Terry Baxter
Liz Bennett
David Deyoe
Molly Donahue
Dean Fisher
Joel Fry
Mary Gaskill
Tedd Gassman
Tom Gerhold
Mary Ann Hanusa
Lisa Heddens
Steven Holt
Lindsay James
Davi Kerr
Jennifer Konfrst
Mary Mascher
Heather Matson
David Maxwell
Andy McKean
Anne Osmundson
Scott Ourth
Todd Prichard
Sandy Salmon
Jeff Shipley
Mark Smith
Art Staed
Sharon Steckman
Phyllis Thede
Beth Wessel-Kroeschell
Skyler Wheeler

During debate on the bill, one of these pro-family champions, State Rep. Sandy Salmon, delivered a powerful speech, which illustrates why sports betting is bad for Iowa. Those comments can be read or watched below:

Remarks on Sports Betting – IA State Rep. Sandy Salmon

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If we think that with this bill we are not expanding gambling in the state of Iowa, we are only fooling ourselves and no one else. We are definitely not fooling the people of Iowa! This absolutely is an expansion of gambling in the state of Iowa!

In 3 ways:
1) in the types of gambling we will legally have. We will have professional and college sports betting in addition to casinos.
2) in the modes by which gambling can legally occur. We will now have legal online gambling in addition to brick and mortar gambling, which brings the availability and access to gambling to a whole new level, bringing it into every home and every smartphone into the state, thus increasing its danger and addictive power exponentially.
3) in the numbers of Iowans who will be gambling once this is in place. Those that are doing it illegally now will continue to do it, only legally. Where the expansion comes in is it will sweep in a whole new swath of people who would not likely get involved with sports betting, but now that it is legal, they will try it and get sucked in. This is especially true with the younger generation, who don’t go to casinos but they are glued to the internet.

So yes, no two ways about it, this is an expansion of gambling. For all the reasons I have mentioned, this bill will usher in the biggest expansion of gambling in Iowa history.

As if the problems we have with gambling now aren’t enough, here is the current situation, according to a UNI and IDPH study:
1. 7 out of 10 Iowans have gambled.
2. 13% of Iowans are at-risk gamblers.
3. 21% of Iowans who currently play fantasy sports illegally are at-risk gamblers.
4. Massachusetts reports 5.7% of casino sports betters are problem gamblers, and when sports betting went online, the number skyrocketed to 18.2%.
5. Since legalization of sports betting, Australia has seen a 70% increase in problem gamblers, particularly among young men.
6. A U of Illinois professor says, “Virtually every piece of academic research says this is a bad idea for any number of reasons. But the big ones are the effect on the economy (and he means a bad effect) and the creation of more addicted gamblers at a younger age.”

Another one of the worst things about the government now legalizing it is we lend to sports gambling an air of legitimacy and even safety. People tend to think when something is legal that it is OK and safe and even helpful and even that it can’t hurt you. (We know what a lie that is.) And so it sucks people in with its lure of false and deceptive rewards.

The legislature whose job it is to look out for and protect Iowans is now deceiving Iowans and luring us into harm’s way. We who should know better are now putting a stumbling block in front of the citizens we are sworn to protect.

Gambling appeals to the basest and worst instincts of us human beings – our tendency toward greed, corruption, wasting what we have, and the desire to make an easy dollar or “get rich quick.” It also weakens the work ethic and strengthens our lazy streak by promising something for nothing.

Gambling also preys upon the weak and vulnerable, no matter what their income level. We are targeting the least-advantaged and financially desperate Iowans, luring them into a Hail Mary investment strategy in which they are doomed to lose.

In addition, state government will have our hand out, basically drawing them into paying a tax. With this bill it can also be argued we are raising a tax on Iowans.

Gambling also damages and destroys marriages and families, often leading to divorce, child abuse, and domestic violence. It also in many cases drives them into poverty, bankruptcy, and financial ruin in addition to tempting some to commit crimes, such as embezzlement. And many more people will wind up captured by the tentacles of addiction as well as suffer from depression and anxiety leading some to suicide. I’ve seen some of these effects first hand, and there are plenty of people and studies who can testify to just such results.

The fallout of this expansion of gambling will be a heavier weight and draw upon our already overstrained budget, Medicaid, mental health care, substance abuse, children and family services, and our court system.

A recent poll conducted this past winter tells us a majority of Iowans, 52% oppose legalizing betting on professional sports. And a whopping 68% oppose legalizing betting on college sports. No poll exists that shows Iowans want internet gambling legalized.

This is a foolish, misguided, and ill-advised move on our part. Please join me in voting no to legalizing sports gambling in Iowa.

You can also watch Salmon’s comments by clicking here and scrolling forward to the 6:34 p.m. mark.

TFL’s Capitol Connection: Holy Week to end of session

TFL’s Drew Zahn, Chuck Hurley, and Danny Carroll report from the Iowa Capitol on the big bills to watch before the end of session and on Monday’s Holy Week Service at the Capitol, which filled the Capitol Rotunda with songs of praise and proclamation of the gospel!

Watch video of the 2019 Holy Week Service at the Iowa Capitol by clicking here.

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

Vander Plaats invites Buttigieg to discussion on faith, sexuality

The FAMiLY LEADER President and CEO Bob Vander Plaats is issuing a public invitation to Mayor Pete Buttigieg to join him in a public discussion at TFL’s annual Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines on July 12.

Buttigieg is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and is exploring running for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States in 2020. In speeches and public appearances recently, Buttigieg has raised several questions about the intersection of faith, politics, and sexuality, including a claim that his same-sex marriage has moved Buttigieg “closer to God.”

Vander Plaats leads The FAMiLY LEADER, a Christian ministry from Iowa that has a significant voice in the Iowa presidential caucuses and seeks to inspire Christ-like leadership in the home, the Church, and the government. Vander Plaats has also become an advocate for civility in public discourse, drawing national headlines over his “unlikely friendship” with the late Donna Red Wing, a prominent LGBTQ activist.

Vander Plaats and Red Wing met privately in genuine friendship, despite their political differences. They also appeared together on several occasions, speaking to college students and others about restoring civility in America, particularly between people who disagree on deeply personal issues.

In this spirit of civility, Vander Plaats welcomes Buttigieg to join him on stage at The Family Leadership Summit for an open discussion of 20 minutes or more on some of the big questions Buttigieg’s comments raise – questions such as, “How do we rightly understand the Word of God and His will for our lives?” “What does it mean to live out your faith, particularly in the political realm?” and, “How can people who disagree demonstrate civility, even in the public eye?”

The Family Leadership Summit is an annual event hosted by The FAMiLY LEADER that invites a variety of speakers to address the tagline, “Principle over Politics.” It’s designed to be an encouraging, inspiring, and thought-provoking event that includes national leaders in the fields of faith, government, and more.

Click here to reserve YOUR space in line for tickets to the 2019 Family Leadership Summit now.