Finding a Church to Support Your Recovery

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.

If recovery from religious abuse or religious addiction are part of your journey, then you may need to pay particular attention to church attendance - process this carefully with a therapist or sponsor. The close connection between religious practices and your recovery issues makes it critical that you develop a practical understanding of the difference between religion and spirituality.

Reproduction in any form without the express written permission of the author is prohibited.

by Dale S. Ryan

Dale Ryan, part of the School of Theology faculty since 1993,
is associate professor of recovery ministry and director
of the Fuller Institute for Recovery Ministry.

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