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Because recovery is a spiritual journey, it will result in spiritual changes as well as emotional and physical ones. That is one reason, among many, why having a supportive faith community during recovery can be crucially important. In addition to the resources of a therapist and/or a support group, having a safe community of people with whom to worship and learn can be a big help.
Finding such a community may not, unfortunately, be easy. It is not difficult to find congregations with a performance orientation and a spirituality rooted in shame. That is not always the case, however, and it's well worth the effort to find a congregation that is at least sympathetic to recovery. There are, of course, no perfect churches out there - just as there are no perfect support groups, perfect therapists or perfect programs. So, give careful thought to what you really need from a church during this time in your life. If you have a supportive group and a therapist, you may not need a congregation to have recovery programming. It may be more important to have a place where you can experience grace-based worship and teaching.
Recently someone commented, “Church causes more problems than it solves.”
It’s not a new notion. Churches have had issues since they were established more than two thousand years ago. Many of Paul’s letters specifically address some dysfunctional church activity.
The basic problem with church is it consists of people, and we tend to be fairly messed up. Church would be a great place if it weren’t for all those people.
I’ll bet Jesus had a similar thought. This world would be a cool place if it weren’t for all these messed-up people.
Note: Even though this was written for rescue missions, it is of value to anyone working in the recovery field.
Over twenty years ago, Rev. Maurice Vanderberg, Executive Director of City Union Mission in Kansas City, hung the purpose of their new Christian Life Program on their chapel wall. It is a statement that should describe the intent of all rescue mission recovery programs:
"Our goal is to see every man becomes a mature, contributing member of a Christian community."
People become homeless because they are disconnected from meaningful relationships with others. They don't know how to access social support systems. And, for most, their trust level is at about zero. As they complete our residential recovery programs, we must assist them to become "plugged-in" to places where they will experience the support, nurture, and encouragement they need to grow in faith and in sobriety.
If you find yourself losing the joy in your life
And your blessing is more like a curse
And you wonder what's wrong with that sweet little girl
That you've taken for better or worse,
You look at her now and hear yourself say,
"A11 she does is gripe and complain."
But maybe if you took a look at yourself,
You would find what exactly has changed.
Now, you didn't used to call on that girl
With chicken hanging out of your teeth,
Your pants undone and your hair not combed
With whiskers you've had for a week.
You'd take three baths and put on cologne,
Shine your shoes and wax your car.
Then, you'd stand at a mirror and work on your hair
Till you looked like a Hollywood star.
The more I think about it the more I’m convinced that the notion of “special needs” isn’t biblically sound.
My friend Tim pastors a church in Denver, and he talks a lot about the “Y’all Come In” mentality. In that view, if the church opens the door and puts down a welcome mat, that’s enough.
Except that it’s not enough.
At Tim’s church they send people to homeless shelters and by-the-week motels. They sit with people one-on-one, talk with them, assure them they’re valued and needed.
For decades authentic Bible-believers have watched - and battled - the slow advancement of paganism inside the Church. This phenomenon is surely becoming much more pronounced today. Right under our noses, there is now a bold blending of holy faith with demonic influence. This synthesis of two opposing worldviews is nothing short of a satanic strategy meant to blur and twist the distinctions which separate real Christianity and New Age beliefs and activities.
In Matthew chapter 24, Jesus' disciples came to him and asked, "Tell us, when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" In responding to this question, it's very interesting what Jesus identified as the foremost sign of his second coming and of the end of the age, "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many."
My feelings of guilt and shame towards a same-sex attraction began at an early age. I experienced frequent sexual abuse from an older male friend during most of my teen years, and hustling for money soon followed.
Years later, I was baptized in a Mennonite Brethren church as a public declaration that I would follow Christ. My secret desire was that maybe now my attraction and sexual fantasies towards men would disappear. They didn't, and the fantasies soon turned into years of acting out behaviours.
Every day, recovering people meet at a variety of locations—churches, homes and community centers. No pre-registration is required for these meetings. Interested individuals simply locate a group that focuses on their particular problem and then attend the meeting. Group participants remain essentially anonymous; they need not reveal any personal information except their first names. During the meetings, they are free to speak openly and honestly about current issues in their lives or to remain silent and listen to others. In this environment, participants don't have to pretend their lives are perfect and free of problems.
Ten years ago, few of us would have considered chemical dependency, sexual addiction, or eating disorders suitable topics for polite conversation within the church community. These were among the "silent issues" in the church. Today, however, addiction, compulsive behavior and abuse are widely
recognized as problems of enormous personal and social significance. Consider these statistics (Washton, Bundy, Willpowers Not Enough, Harper Perenial, 1998).
- At least six million Americans are addicted to cocaine.
- Between five million and ten million are addicted to prescription drugs.
- Ten million Americans are alcoholics.
- More than 50 million Americans are addicted to nicotine.