Protecting Churches from Porn
The pervasive nature of pornography, sadly, has opened doors to temptation during business hours (or after hours with an organization's equipment). And the church office isn't immune from the problem, especially as technology increasingly becomes mobile, offering opportunities to connect online via mobile phones and laptops. In 2001, Leadership surveyed pastors and found that 4 in 10 struggled with online pornography.
Leaders must be aware of how church-owned equipment is used, not only to help protect the moral and spiritual well-being of pastors and staff, but also to minimize the potential for a sexual misconduct claim. Here are five precautions that can help protect church leaders using church-owned equipment:
- Install filtering services and accountability software (which tracks website activity and generates reports), such as Covenant Eyes, Internet Safety Inc.'s Ethershield, or XXXChurch.com, on computers, laptops, and mobile devices issued by the church;
- Set up passwords and other identification requirements on every computer and laptop. This limits accessibility and provides another way to track web activity by individuals;
- Create and use a computer-use policy that (1) establishes no expectation of privacy regarding employee use of e-mail, the internet, and computer files, (2) states specific improper uses, and (3) acknowledges the existence of penalties and disciplinary actions for violations;
- Emphasize authentic relationships among church staff, says William Struthers, author of Wired for Intimacy. "Each church staff needs to look at its unique circumstances. For example, a small church staff with two or three people will have different ways of creating transparency and accountability, especially if they're using the same computer. Larger staffs are going to have to have a different approach," Struthers says. "That might look more like specific clusters—pastoral staff, the children's ministry staff, the youth staff, the adult ministries staff—each one probably should have a unique way of cultivating accountability to create the transparency there.";
- Find natural ways to keep the issue visible. "The primary principle is that this should be an ongoing conversation," Struthers continues. "Conversations should include setting standards for appropriate entertainment; discussing culture and scriptural influences on those standards; raising the issue without overpersonalizing it—reading something as a staff, or bringing in a speaker that creates an open environment to engage the issue; and spending time regularly in prayer."