Celebrate Recovery ministries are showing up at churches across Oklahoma as more faith leaders become aware of the need to offer support to people recovering from addictions.
The ministry was started by John Baker, a pastor at Saddleback Church, the California church headed by Rick Warren, pastor and author of the best-selling book “The Purpose-Driven Life.”
Many churches have embraced Celebrate Recovery because it offers an opportunity to address critical societal issues and at the same time serves as an outreach to the community, said Nancy Reeves, a volunteer Celebration Recovery leader for the western part of Oklahoma.
“The church has finally realized that this is an opportunity to reach out,” Reeves said. “It (addiction) affects the life of the individual and the life of the church.” Reeves attends First Baptist Church of Moore where her Celebration Recovery office is housed. She said her church offers the Celebrate Recovery program along with about 10 other churches in the Oklahoma City metro area. She said another four metro churches are about to kick-off Celebrate Recovery programs.
Churches offering the programs include Henderson Hills Baptist in Edmond, Memorial Road Church of the Christ, Cherokee Hills Baptist, Council Road Baptist, Crossroads Church, Western Oaks Church of the Nazarene, Westmoore Community Church and First United Methodist Church of Oklahoma City. Reeves said about 70 churches offer the program statewide in cities like Stillwater, Tulsa, Ardmore, Enid, Owasso and Claremore.
Reeves said her marriage ended years ago due to her spouse’s substance abuse problem. Though she and her husband sought counseling and help through their local church, Reeves said leaders there did not really know how to help the couple.
She said Celebrate Recovery combines the faith principles of the Beatitudes from the biblical Book of Matthew with the 12-Step recovery process typified by organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous. She said Celebrate Recovery offers support groups for the addict and also a separate group for those who love him or her. Reeves said some churches also offer support groups for children and teens impacted by a loved ones’ addiction.
“We realize it’s never really one person, it’s the whole family,” she said.
Reeves said those involved in the Celebrate Recovery program realize that addiction is not something that “stops at the church door.” She said about 75 percent of program participants come from outside the church, but 25 percent are typically people from within the congregation.
Addictions that are addressed during program meetings include substance abuse, gambling, pornography, sex, spending and food. Reeves said people also come for help dealing with childhood sexual abuse, abusive relationships, emotional abuse and addiction to relationships.
Reeves said faith can play a vital role in a participant’s journey through recovery.
“This simply takes those 12 steps and takes right back to Scripture,” she said.
“In the Beatitudes, what Jesus did is establish what our lives should look like when we are living that ‘kingdom life’.”
Celebrate Recovery principles
(based on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10))
- Realize I’m not God; I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable.
“Happy are those who know that they are spiritually poor.”
- Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover.
“Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
- Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control.
“Happy are the meek.”
- Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust.
“Happy are the pure in heart.”
- Voluntarily submit to any and all changes God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects.
“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires”
- Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others when possible, except when to do so would harm them or others.
“Happy are the merciful.”
“Happy are the peacemakers”
- Reserve a time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will.
- Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and my words.
“Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires.”