Monday, May 2, 2011

Jesus Christ and Recovery

Back in the 1980s, a small Baptist Church in Delaware County approached me about doing some training on addictions for their fledgeling "drug ministry." I had never heard of a church drug ministry, and raised Catholic, didn't have much of an idea what a "ministry" was, either!

What it turned out to be was a group of extremely dedicated people, all members of the church, who were  serious about addressing problems of addiction and alcoholism within their community and their congregation.  They were great students, open, curious and receptive, and on a personal level, the kindest and most caring group I had ever encountered.

It was the first of many trainings I was privileged to do for the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Twin Oaks PA. For many years afterward, working in rehabs, I would get a call from a member of the Drug Ministry telling me that "one of ours" was coming in. No special treatment required, but I would expect to schedule a session with one of the Deacons from the Drug Ministry along with the usual family sessions and so forth. When it was time to plan aftercare, unless there was a reason for some specific counseling, I would discharge my client to "AA/Mt. Pleasant Drug Ministry."

The A.A. referral was primarily a CYA. The fact is  that I knew the Drug Ministry was the only referral necessarily.

For some people entering Recovery, the Church fulfills them in a way that no secular program can. They feel a vague disconnect in traditional 12 Step meetings, where the general talk of a Higher Power does not seem to be enough.

To be frank about it: They need Jesus Christ, and need a recovery community within which it is completely accepted to be a Christian first, and an addict or alcoholic, second. While this seems to fly in the face of traditional secular or 12 Step based treatment, the fact is that Christian Recovery Programs now account for a significant number of individuals in recovery from addictions.

  • Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church's Drug Ministry has been in existence for over 20 years, and has helped hundreds upon hundreds of addicts and their families. Some of the Ministry's original trainees are now ordained Ministers, working to develop effective Drug Ministries within their own congregations.
  • Celebrate Recovery, a Christian Recovery program affiliated with the Saddleback Church, and open not only to alcoholics, drug addicts and their families, but to people dealing with everything from co-dependence to compulsive gambling, has groups in over 10,000 churches and reports over 500,000 people having completed their 8 Step Program.
  • For years,the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has listed Faith-Based Services as one of the most effective ways to deliver prevention information to youngsters.
I am sure that this post will generate discussion, and as always I welcome comments. Links are attached to some of the organizations mentioned in the post. Please check them out.

 Celebrate Recovery

Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church

Jacob's Well Counseling

Sacred Spaces Counseling Center

 (Special Thanks to my Stepdaughter, Karen Verrecchio Talbot, for her inspiration and guidance.)


  1. Ken,
    I SO VERY MUCH agree with you. The Drug Ministry at the church sounds wonderful. I pray that my son finds his way to one.
    I texted my son just last night......" I think you are out of options of where to go. I suggest you begin with going to your knees"
    My belief is that only when one accepts the healing power of God's grace can one truly recover.
    Praying for all affected by this disease.

  2. AlAnon was a great program to get me out of denial, and spur me to stop obsessing about the addict and take care of myself (and the rest of the family I had been neglecting). But after awhile I really didn't like saying "Higher Power". I believe in God, I believe Jesus Christ helped my son out of his horrific heroin addiction. But if I said "God" at AlAnon, some people were uncomfortable with it. I go to Celebrate Recovery now, and I don't have to "hide" my faith.

    BTW, my church has the largest prison ministry in the state of Michigan! I've been very active in writing letters to prisoners, and we do an "Angel Tree" party at Christmas (for prisoner's children) that is really nice.

    I believe the power of faith, along with prayer, can turn lives around. But I also believe there is more than one path to sobriety, and nothing turns me off more than people who scream their way is the only way.

  3. I think that there is more than one way to get sober. For many it is the 12 step programs and for others, it is religion. Some even do it without either. Whatever works.