Celebrate Recovery!

Today we are exactly 88 days away from launching a ministry at our church that could have some of the most profound and far-reaching effects of the many ministries we have undertaken over the years. We are preparing to launch “Celebrate Recovery,” a 12-step recovery program designed to help people overcome a wide variety of hurts, habits, and hang-ups through the healing power of faith in Jesus Christ. It is a program that was born 17 years ago at Saddleback Church in Orange County, California and has spread to thousands of churches around the world. Over the weekend, I even heard about someone who attended a Celebrate Recovery meeting in Mongolia! CR works mostly through local churches, but there are many groups meeting inside prisons also.

I am excited about what Celebrate Recovery will do in the setting of this particular congregation where I serve. I think it is fair to say that people outside this church look at us with a fairly jaundiced eye most of the time. This church is BIG (some 14,000 members), is attended by many of the political and social “elite” of our area (including politicians, professional athletes, entertainers, etc.), and is regularly featured in the media. Before I came here over three years ago I, like many others in our area, considered this church to be little more than a place to “see and be seen.” It seemed to be the place where the beautiful, problem-free people hang out and show off their latest toys to each other.

While it is true that our parking lot boasts an inordinately high percentage of Lexus’, BMWs, Acuras, Mercedes, and Infinitis, I no longer believe in the fairy-tale facade that is presented. In my time here I have seen and heard stories of deep pain and misery that have left me totally dumbfounded and very nearly (though not quite) rendered me speechless. Yes, some of the misery could be described as self-inflicted, the predictable result of living a life of excess. Some is the result of life “just happening” to people. But if there is one lesson I have learned in a new and lasting way it is that money and social status provide no more insulation from the storms of life than anything else we habitually seek.

And that is why I am so excited about what I see Celebrate Recovery being able to do here. As is the case with any 12-step program, the beginning point of Celebrate Recovery is stepping out of denial, dropping humbly to one’s knees, and saying, “God, this thing is bigger than me. I can’t tackle it by myself. I have tried to do it on my own and I have failed. The only way I am every going to deal with this successfully is by putting myself – wholly and completely – into your hands. Lord Jesus, I surrender my whole life to you today.” Being a church that loudly and proudly says, “We are a Celebrate Recovery church!” sends a powerful message to people. It says, “It is OK to come here and be imperfect! Broken, messed up people are absolutely welcome here! This is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints!” I know we have often been thought of as a very welcoming place, but I truly believe that being a CR church “ups the ante” on any idea of hospitality in a really exciting new way.

I can’t wait to see how this ministry affects the people who will come to take advantage of it. But most of all, I am anxious to see how it will affect the rest of the church. Because after all, isn’t kneeling humbly before God and saying, “Not my will, but yours…” a good place to start anyway?

Stay tuned!

1 Response to “Celebrate Recovery!”

  1. 1 shonufff
    April 28, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    Praise God!!!

    I’ve been able to help start a CR program at a church we attended previously. It was awesome, what a ministry. I’ll pray for you guys, and the success, not of the “program”, but of Christians hitting the dirt and starting to live their lives for Christ as a reality instead of a show.

    One piece of advice I would offer:

    Ensure the leaders and mentors are experienced, Christians, and have recovered or are recovering from hurts, habits or hang ups. We had some well-intending people make it into our leadership team, however, the ministry is a unique one, and it isn’t suited for everyone if you know what I mean. Do what you do with excellence, as good as it can be done!!!

    In Christ <


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