Monday, February 18, 2008

Relevant Church doing something...

incredibly RELEVANT!

I just heard some news today that really inspired me. A church here in Tampa, Relevant Church is doing a new thing this month called the "30 Days Sex Challenge." (I've never visited the church but Pastor Trinity - our children's pastor - has visited or has met some people from this church and he was very impressed.)

Realizing that this is a major element missing from some marriages (the frequency factor) their lead pastor, Paul Wirth, has issued a challenge for all the married couples to have sex for 30 days in a row. At the same time he has issued a challenge for all unmarrieds to completely abstain from sex. Of course we know the Bible says that those who are unmarried should not have sex in the first place but the point is, a lot of unmarried's aren't obeying the Lord's command to abstain and this is just one pastor's way of trying to get them to see that indeed, there is a better way! (God's way!) At the same time, many married couples are not following God's instruction to have sex often. (I Corinthians 7 1-7) The pastor is obviously trying to show the married couples that there is definitely a better way than some of them have been choosing, which is to let the busyness of life crowd out the Lord's directive to "come back together again" often.

The church has a website that they've done about this new campaign they are can find it at: Check out their site -- it's really awesome.

Like I said, I've never visited Relevant Church but it looks like they have some great things going on and maybe our staff will just have to take a little field trip down to Ybor to experience a service for ourselves.

I would have loved to have seen the reaction on the Sunday the pastor made this announcement...did he have to say, "can I get an amen up in here?" (LOL)

On a totally serious note, Larry and I have done a challenge like that for ourselves before (but never challenged the church...yet!) and we noticed a big difference in our marriage because of it. Discussing the benefits of doing such a challenge in your marriage are worthy of a post all it's own. But I will say this for starters - until you do such a "challenge" - you may not realize just how many times you come home from work tired, stressed, and it just becomes easier to eat, watch TV and go to sleep.

Most married couples would agree, "yeah, I come home from work a lot and I'm tired and fall asleep" but many would never realize just how many nights or weeks they have done a row...without connecting - unless they kept track, or did a challenge where they realized, "hey we really don't do this as much as we thought we did." It becomes so easy for tiredness, problems with kids, bills, and other stresses to take first priority.

Assessments are a worthy tool to see where we are at whether in a workplace environment, a church or a marriage relationship. I have found personally that in my marriage, we need an assessment now and then to see how we are doing in all the important areas of our relationship. Sex is one of those areas.

I know many couples who sit in mine and Larry's office (who have come to a difficult point in their marriage) are surprised at where some of the problems started, or how easy it was to lose connection. We've helped many couples who confessed, their sex lives had gotten to the point of once a month, once a year, sometimes non-existent. But it all had to start somewhere.

Sometimes it takes a major wake up call to get you back on track. I know for me, having my doctor say, "you need to lose weight or else" threw me into a major wake up call. When I acted on that wake up call it was through a radical new transformation in eating and exercise that led to a 40 lb. weight loss. I couldn't have done it had I not taken an assessment of where I was, gotten honest with myself and taken a radical challenge to improve. In our relationships sometimes we need a "wake up call" and it takes something radical to get us back on track the way God intended.

I commend Pastor Paul Wirth and his wife Susie, from Relevant Church. They are giving the people of their church a wake up call. To the married they are saying, "connect more" and to the unmarried they are giving the clear call to abstain. Both groups will be so blessed as they take up the challenge!

I look forward to visiting the church someday when my schedule allows. Pastor Paul and Susie seem like really cool people who wouldn't mind if Larry and I steal their idea for our fact they'd probably consider it...relevant?


Anonymous said...

Thank you for such an well written article on this topic. I attend Relevant Church and have been very disheartened by all of the negative attention this series has drawn. You're view on the topic is spot on with the issues Pastor Wirth is trying to get people to address. Thanks again, God Bless~

Deanna Shrodes said...

You're welcome! My privilege! I felt so strongly about it that I not only wrote this blog but I wrote your pastor and his wife a letter and thanked them. They are preaching the truth and helping many in the Tampa Bay area and as another minister in the Tampa Bay area, I for one am very grateful for them!

Thank God for ministers like yours who are not afraid to speak the truth of the Word of God, even on the most intimate of subjects, and are willing to be criticized if necessary for the sake of the gospel. And yes, this is the gospel.

I can't think of anything more spiritual than dealing with marriage and families...and yes, sexuality.

I'm looking forward to the possibility of meeting your pastors in person and havinga latte with them when both our schedules allow.

Many blessings to you!!! I know I don't have to tell you to appreciate your pastor/church - you already seem to, however just know you are blessed my friend.

Pastor L said...

That looks like a great challenge...excuse me while I call my husband and propose it to him, lol!!!

Seriously, though - it is SO easy to slip into "roommate" mood with one's spouse...been there, done that, refused the T-shirt, and NOT going back again!!!!!

Deanna Shrodes said...

You're right, it's so easy to slip into that when "life" takes over. So many people prioritize everything BUT this in their lives. And honestly a lot of the time they don't have a whole lot left to show for it. I know people who prioritize their kids over their relationship with their spouse and specifically intimacy/sex and what do they have to show for it? Kids who are nothing but a mess in most cases. Larry just preached on that topic Sunday and implored our couples to PLEASE not do that, for the sake of their marriage and ultimately their kids b/c it will affect their kids in the long run.

Tara Sloan said...

This is so funny, I ran across this last night and started a blog post on it... and then I visited your blog and you already posted on it!!! Great minds think a like!!!

This is a GREAT challenge!!! I wonder if there will be a baby boom at Relevant Church? Hey- that is one way to grow a church!!! Kidding aside... a healthy sex life is an important factor in marriage!

Melissa said...

WOW! I think I will challenge my husband to this! Seriously though what a huge step for a pastor to challenge his congregation this way! I am sure it has raised a lot of negativity but the world must get the point that marriage and the covenant of marriage(sex) is God ordained and is solely for the marriage bed. The world has really messed up the true meaning of the marriage covenant. May God bless Relevant Church and its pastors as it takes on this challenge!

Deanna Shrodes said...

Tara Sloan just blogged about this too...go over to to read her take on it.

Tina from GA said...

Thank you for bringing this news to people's attention about what this church is doing. I wish my church would do something like this. So many of the couples are struggling and sex is a big reason why. Sadly some people don't realize that it was God who ordained sex, not the world or the devil. What part of it being a God thing don't people understand? One day I sat down with a friend of mine and gave her all the many scriptures the bible gives for the importance of this and she still would not hear any of it although she considers herself a really on fire christian, she just couldn't see it and i think it's the way she was raised. I think many people are warped because of the way they are brought up &they think sex is the devils tool instead of God's gift. I am praying my pastor will see an article about this and maybe it will give him an idea to help our couples.

Deanna Shrodes said...

You are welcome, Tina. My privilege. I'll pray for your situation. Why don't you point out Relevant's site to your pastor? Just an idea.

Also, I just received word that the pastors from Relevant are scheduled to be on the CBS morning show this Wednesday to talk about this. God has opened this door for them and let's pray for them. Our country needs a revival in general that's for sure, but we also need a marriage revival, where couples once again GOD'S PLAN for marriage.

That our desire for one another is not in the least bit carnal or worldly, but a God ordained thing.

I know what you mean about your friend. There are some that you could give every single scripture in the Bible about this and they still would not see it because they do not want to see it. For whatever reason (yes, upbringing many times, or hurts) they cannot get past the point of realizing that marital sex is a God thing and not something we should have as a taboo subject and especially not non existent or near non existent in our lives.

This has always been a priority to me. I wrote a Christian book about this about 11 years ago (Intimate Woman) and not surprisingly it's one we can't keep on the shelves in our office...people are so hungry for the info...our ladies have been assembling the books for me for years. They are just spiral bound books we do in our office, and we've had to work 3 days straight all day before just to get shipments ready. We receive invites all the time to speak on it because people know we're not afraid to and there is such a cry for help in the breakdown of today's society. The divorce statistics are just as bad in the church as in the world, but I know you already know that........

Anyway, please pray for the pastors of Relevant as they speak on this nationally. As the family goes so goes the church, and we desperately need marriage revival, family revival...

Deanna Shrodes said...

Listen to this, it just came across the front page of AOL tonight!!!

"It's estimated that more than 20 million marriages in the U.S. are essentially sexless. That is, having sex fewer than 10 times per year. The most common problem? Lack of desire. Or it could mean a serious health issue. Find out what you can do about it."

Can you believe that statistic? 20 million marriages? Is it any wonder the DIVORCE rates are so high? And the fact that they are such in the CHURCH as in the world is an indictment on the church. We need to get back to what the Bible says about this subject regarding our marriages and be a light to the world...go back into the enemy's camp -- take back what the devil has been trying to steal from our married couples.

Larry and I have a teaching called, "Sex is War" and it is -- SPIRITUAL WARFARE. Again, go back to I Cor. 7.

By the way I contacted Relevant's pastors tonight to give them that statistic in case they want to use it in their interview on Wednesday. I thought it might help make the point that marriages in the USA are in serious trouble and this is just one reason why.

Ros said...

good word pd, preach it!

Deborah said...

Deanna, how refreshing to see a church that is not afraid to give credit where credit is due (something I note that you and Larry do all the time), when the body of CHrist starts to work together and not against each other the bride can get ready! wonderful article went across and visited the website of that church and if Fred was not in JHB (700km away) in the week we would take up this challenge so we will be doing a weekend challenge (grin) well written Deanna, I have a ministry called HOPESA and I work with woman that are sexually abused and even young girls, the world and the church dont have a healthy view of sex! I feel its time that the church was relevent in the society. Just because we are bornagain doesnt mean our marriage beds come right over night we need to be taught just like we are taught to be baptised or even equipt for ministry. How can we ever reach these woman and restore them if we cant be open and preach on sex in the marriage bed or to abstain in a single relationship. Praise Jesus for men and woman that will teach on sex. love always me

Michele said...

Speaking from the single side of abstaining from sex- I think that is a great challenge- Our youth need to hear more of that. As a single who has abstained from sex-what more of a gift can you give your future spouse- We as the adults should be an example - I have set the bar high for our youth at our church and expect them to know what the word of God says about sex- that GOd created it to be a beautiful expereince but for a married couple-

Michael said...

I am an A/G pastor in the midwest. I had heard about this pastor's sex challenge on the news and thought, "Way to go!" In a perfect world with perfect people serving a perfect God we would not have to address such things. However, we are living in an imperfect world with imperfect people (Believers, or not) trying to serve a perfectly awesome God. Kudos to the pastor of Relevant for tackling such an important issue. What better Biblical advice could be given than telling non-married folks not to have sex and married folks to go for it! Kudos to you, Deanna, for sharing and posting to your blog!

Pastor Mike

Lady Melissa said...

Pastor Deanna,

I heard about this challenge and thought "GOOD IDEA", I also thought about how you have already been on the subject for a little minute. I personally thank you for being open concerning "SEX", so many today act as if it's a SIN to talk or even teach on it but to be honest if more people and even more leaders were as open and honest about as you are, there wouldnt be so much ADULTERY IN THE CHURCH!!! There would be less divorces as well as less fornication IN THE CHURCH!!!

Thank you because your post has personally helped me to put more into my marriage when it comes to intimacy with my husband. WAY TO GO & KEEP THEM COMING! Love you lots.

Toots said...

Great idea. I know my husband would LOVE to take this challenge.
Also I really believe this is something that our kids should hear about in church. I would much rather them hear it in church then in school or from their friends because you know they are talking about it. So why not give them the correct information so they can make the right decisions the first time around and not have to go through the heartache that some of us went through as teens.

susan said...

Thank you so much for everything you are teaching on this topic. This is something that needs to be talked about. I rather hear it from you than from anyone else. Thank you for being so open about this topic.

Kerry said...

My opinion is somewhat two-fold. While I believe that sex is addressed in the bible and that it should be preached about in that context, I also believe that like everything preached about in the bible it should be preached on only if it is going to edify the church and glorify God’s name. I can understand discussing it when mentoring and counseling married or unmarried couples. For me personally, I am a very private person and so I prefer not to discuss my love life in public. I also would rather not hear about other people’s love life including when and how and where it takes place. I believe that based on how each individual is raised and their respective culture, he/she can view the topic of “sex” as taboo, or some can view it as a very open subject. I, for instance, grew up in Jamaica with an old-fashioned family and can never remember a time when sex was openly discussed. My parents never had “the birds and the bees” talk with me until I was well on my way to college. The only time I over-heard talks about sex (and kids will hear about it) was when my family portrayed it as such a nasty, ugly and forbidden thing. Other times it was from some jerk trying to get into my pants and all of a sudden it is such a “special and beautiful” thing. This can be very confusing for children/teenagers and this is why it is important for parents to talk to them about sex. With that said I think it takes much bravery for Pastors like Deanna and Larry to address this topic in their church. I believe that they are trying to change the mindset of people who believe that sex is taboo and you shouldn’t even discuss it. It is a part of life and regardless of whether it’s discussed or not, it will happen. So when it is discussed positively and for a good and wise purpose then I say, go for it! Some teenagers have been positively changed by listening to their youth pastors discuss their love life. These same teenagers have gone on to abstain from sex until marriage. Not only does this teach them how to respect themselves and their spouses in the future, but it also teaches them self-control. Self-control is a very important quality to learn and will help not only in marriage but in life. If people had more self-control there would not be so many problems such as drugs, alcohol, sexual immorality, high crime, suicide rates and many others. So talking about sex just to talk about it, then I say no way. But talking about it to help people overcome problems in marriage, to help unmarried couples abstain from it and even to help people who were victims of sexual abuse is extremely beneficial.

Anonymous said...

Christian homes are bombarded with sensuality everyday. Pornographers text message pastors (this was on national news) to try to get them to visit their sites. Recently when driving our church van to Home Depot for remodeling, a business card was placed on the driver's side. It was an ad about how to view porn on the web without a chance of it being discovered. I was so upset by the thought of some male volunteer being tempted like this in the middle of serving his local church! It's time the church take a stand on this issue and take back what the devil has stole from us! It's the enemies camp now; we must reclaim it by teaching the whole counsel of scripture re: premarital sex, marital sex, affairs, lust, and debauchery. Why do we think that sticking our head in the sand is the "only proper way" to deal with sexual issues in the church? The Apostle Paul didn't!
I commend spiritual leaders who are not afraid to deal with this topic! Many times in history when a spiritual leader was "off" they had sexual sins in their life. We really need to have a biblical worldview on sexual matters. We need to be able to address singles, marrieds, and homosexuals based on the Bible. The church needs to be a place where those addicted to porn can get delivered and healed...a place where those who are frigid in marriage can be set free. I saw my Dad's porn addiction put a wedge between he and my Mom. This is relevant to our day and we need to find out and preach what our Bibles say!

Anonymous said...

TwoAsOne writes:

This topic has always been relevant in our society.
As a single person, I had a boyfriend who was addicted to porn. My Mom had been in so many relationships where porn took precedence that she would always tell me: "No man will be faithful to one woman all their life. They all lust and look at naked women." I and my fiance got radically saved and dug into the scriptures about sexual issues. Paul's writings in I Cor 5 & 6 and advice on "From whom do we separate" really helped us as young Christians to walk in sexual purity. We had to overcome sexual temptations once we learned that God's plan was not for singles to have sex.
Then as "marrieds" we had to change gears and see that sex is to be enjoyed and it's not "bad". I am thankful for spiritual leaders who will teach on this because it is something that everyone faces every day of their lives. Now, almost 20 years later I can say that my mother was mistaken. Not all men are lacking self-control in this area and my husband thanks me often for making the married bed creative and enjoyable. When we know what the Bible says and teach it to others as well as live it, there is no shame to talk about these issues.

Anonymous said...

I would have to know more information regarding the relevant church before I just jumped on the wagon with them. Nevertheless, I understand the pastor chose 30 days to make or break a habit. Though I personally feel everyday is too much due to health issues I have, I do understand that about every two-three days is what would keep most husbands happy.
Trying to conceive our 1st born was an everyday thing, frankly I wore my hubby out! Therefore, realistically I don't think marrieds could handle it being a regular habit; it could become a daily "chore" to some. However, I do see some good that could come out of it.
Being that this church consists of many college age and young marrieds, perhaps the pastor hasn't experienced couples whom have health problems, hurts from affairs or affairs of the mind, impotence problems, infertility pain, molestational issues. Etc. I would be careful about blanket challenges because they do not consider all people of all ages and situations.

Anonymous said...

After checking out their site, I see that they have many college students and young marrieds. This would be the context for a blanket challenge as such. However, for other congregations to follow suit may be a little to "pat answered" or flippant due to aging issues one may have. Pastors need to consider their sheep's specific problematic areas (i.e. pain of infertility & how it affects the marriage bed, impotence or health issues, extra-marital affairs or extremely selfish individuals not meeting the other marital mutuality needs,pornography/sexual hurts not healed yet, or the normal "slowing down" process that comes with aging (per my deacon wife in 60's) Etc.
I know for me, everyday would not be feasible due to health issues. I also think it could become a "chore" for some couples as opposed to a blessing. I understand this pastor chose 30 days to make or break a habit. But most couples (especially men) would be happy every 2-3 days. This may be a more reasonable challenge for marrieds (considering menstral cycles or female problems and all the above situations).

When trying to conceive or first child, it was an everyday thing and I wore my husband out (smile).
We have also "wondered" about the quality of that sperm as he is our most challenging child. Therefore, I think churches should teach on these subjects but avoid blanket challenges that may actually hurt their sheep's marriage as opposed to help it.

Deanna Shrodes said...

I would definitely agree with you about medical or extenuating circumstances. It's obvious why someone with medical issues wouldn't be having sex as much as someone with them and it's understandable.

What I don't think it understandable or proper (Biblically) is the fact that there are MANY (literally millions) of people who DO NOT have medical issues or extenuating circumstances yet they do not maintain a good sex life in their marriage. They settle for a "comfortable" relationship more like being buddies than lovers, almost like a sister and brother living in the same house. It's just not right. Far too many marriages are like this.

This is why when Larry and I teach on this we always make a disclaimer like you mention because if not you have people who just rise up and try to discount what the Bible says because of their "unique situation." For instance...I was on a website yesterday reading about this situation with Relevant Church. A woman came on to a message board and was very angry and said, "I am happily married. We never have sex. I have medical issues, and I can't. So therefore, this pastor is TOTALLY WRONG." Well, perhaps in her case what he is preaching does not apply because of her unique medical circumstances. But I guarantee that if this lady goes to church, it WOULD apply to the majority of the people there. While medical and other extenuating issues exist, I don't believe that is true for the majority of couples and it's obviously the majority that this pastor is trying to reach.

If there's one thing I wish he would have done it's make some disclaimer...such as, "unless you have medical issues that prevent you from such..." I think that would have staved off a whole lot of criticism.

What irks me are the married people who have nothing wrong with them except for a wrong spiritual view of sexuality that want to claim that this should not be a priority in marriage. And usually you don't have two people in a marriage who both equally feel that way -- you have one person who feels strongly that way and the other partner who goes along with it to keep the peace.

The other night I was talking to our couples and I said something to the effect of, "wives, some of your husbands may have told you they are okay with this, however sometimes husbands say things just to keep the peace. Don't be so sure your husband is okay with your decision to rarely make love." And that is so husband has had men confide to him many, many times that they are not happy but they feel they have no choice but to just keep the peace and be quiet because "if Mama ain't happy nobody's happy" and it's better to be quiet and put up with less sex than to rock the boat and have their wife take it out on them some other way and be irritable.

So anyway my friend, I'm saying I do agree with you IF (operative word being "IF" here) they are extenuating circumstances.

Deanna Shrodes said...

just another point I just thought of...

I know of several people who have had a spouse with "medical issues" such as impotence and the partner has refused to do all they could to get help, either because of embarrassment or, believing it just wasn't a priority. I believe that's sin.

There's someone I know who, after dealing with impotence and being told by a doctor there was something wrong, they never went back to the doctors again and never made love to their wife again and just expected her to think that was fine and to deal with it. She was left unfulfilled and heartbroken. He thought because of his embarrassment or whatever that was perfectly fine to do that and she should have understood.

I know of another person who has several medical issues that without attention, affect their libido greatly. This would be easily manageable with medication however, for whatever reason they will not do it. Their spouse simply "takes care of themself" on a regular basis and they have begged their spouse to please get help. They won't.

I believe situations like this are a sin. The sin is knowing you can do something about this to fulfill God's instruction to fulfill your partner, yet you will not. (Please don't misunderstand, I feel that if nothing could be done - then it would be understandable and the one who is "unfulfilled" would have to understand it.)

By the way, just so there's no misunderstanding - these individuals I spoke of are NOT in my church nor do they come to me for counseling. (I wouldn't share it even anonymously if that were the case.)

Anybody want to take a stab (and back it up biblically) on WHY somebody would be impotent or have otherwise medical issues and absolutely refuse to get help and think it somehow lines up with scripture to do that and that God and their spouse should just be fine with it? I don't say this in any "sarcastic" way, I am seriously wondering what people's thought process is when they make a decision like this.

Kristan said...


I want to applaud you for having the courage to write about things that would make many blush. I still remember the day you walked into my 7th-grade class - all girls, separated from the boys, who Larry was addressing at the same time - and you opened with the line, "God wants you to have an amazing sex life!" I have chuckled about that numerous times over the years, and the point being, it stuck with me.

Forget the negative reactions - I, as well as many others, are both enjoying AND learning from your "things I've learned" series - keep them coming!


Deanna Shrodes said...

Thank you, Kristan!

By the way, we are really proud of you. What a wonderful woman of God you have turned out to be.

Love ya

Pastor L said...

Re: extenuating circumstances (a frank, honest solution)...

Someone (I don't know if it was here or elsewhere!) mentioned regarding the 30-day sex challenge "What about when the woman is having her period?"

A legitimate question. Within 30 days, this is going to happen in most marriages!

My husband and I personally don't have intercourse during my cycle, because a.)I usually have killer cramps for about 2 days and I'm downing Tylenol all day long just to take the edge off!, and b.)It's just not our preference - it's something we discussed and agreed upon before we were married.

But (other than when I'm not feeling well, which my husband totally respects!) there are plenty of intimate things that can be done besides actual intercourse. Use your can always make it "all about him" for a day - he'll probably return the favor later!!!

Also...if you're worried that some things won't be considered "sex," think about it this way: If you knew two people who were NOT married and were engaging in x, y, or z, would you consider THAT to be sexual activity? If the answer is yes for unmarried people, then the answer is yes for married people. Be creative!! Have fun!! Enjoy your spouse!!

Just wanted to throw my $.02 in on that...I know this has been something that I've heard people talking about on other message boards, too...

Anonymous said...

These comments are good. I also have known of wives who use it as a weapon or are manipulative with sex...all of which is very wrong!
I've known of husbands who were overly focused on it and have raped their own wife or wanted to bring a third party in the marriage bed. This really can be a hurtful area for some couples for many more reasons than any of us can really know.

I also had a relative who thought it was for pro-creation only. I always thought "poor Uncle Harold" (smile). These things are disobedient to the whole counsel of scripture and very unfair. When a spouse vows to forsake all others and be one with us, part of that oneness is the sex. Oh! You say: Oh but that's a small part. is the key to your car! It all has to work together. You don't just go out and grab the headlights or rub the bumper and the car is ready to drive. Amen.
I once heard of a book called: Sex starts in the kitchen or something like that. I believe in creativity but this isn't what the jest of the book was about. It was about all the other things that need attention in order to have a freedom in the marriage bed. This seems to be especially true of emotional and acceptance needs. Just as cars need a lot of maintenance to last so does our marriage bed!

In closing,I think we can clearly see from every comment that this is an issue that is relevant and we need to deal with it very gently. Kindness is treating others like they are the valuable people they are and without that kind of respect going on... sex can be a hard thing. I am very grateful that my dear husband and I have never had problems in this regards. They are very hard to overcome because it's a private matter that not every person can talk about. But making a lifelong commitment to eachother to keep ourselves only for eachother is a very serious matter and we should be as creative/fun as possible.
We have vowed not to be intimate with any one else our whole lives!
Let's make it fun!

Deanna Shrodes said...

So is the key to your car...

I like that. What a good illustration.