Recovery @ Cornerstone: Our Ministry Distinctives

recoveryI never had any plans to work with men and women struggling with addictions. I never had any problems with drugs or alcohol, and when I first started in ministry I didn’t have any friend that did either. But God has seen fit to put me in the middle of this world. Increasingly, I found myself ministering to more and more men and women who are struggling with addiction, and it has become a very big passion of mine. So, when I took over responsibility for the Recovery Ministry at Cornerstone Baptist Church I did so with a great deal of excitement.

Though we use the word “recovery,” we don’t necessarily mean the same thing that others do when they use the word. Our recovery ministry has some different ideas in mind. I am thrilled to be able to share in the next couple of weeks those ministry distinctives of our recovery program. Essentially we think that Jesus changes everything, even recovery.

Of all the things that we can say about the process of recovery the biggest point to make is that we believe in the power of the gospel, the aid of the Holy Spirit, and the solidarity of the church. Furthermore, we believe those things make the greatest difference in helping individuals recover from life-dominating sin and sorrow. We have seen the evidence of these three factors in helping people recover, and I maintain that they make all the difference in the world. While many recovery programs affirm the value of religious belief, they do so in vague undefined terms: “I believe in a higher power.” But nebulous deities don’t make a difference. Nor do deities made in my own image, originating in my mind. Proper motivation comes from a God who is truly greater than me, who is real and has a history of faithfulness. Real help comes from a God who is so far above me that he is not contaminated by my sin, and yet a God who draws so near to me that He enters my mess. That’s the person of Jesus Christ, who became “God in the flesh” to deal with my sin and to impart new life to me. This is the hope that we all need for recovery.

We are new people with a new power when the gospel takes root in our lives. The apostle Paul declares that in Christ “he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). In Christ we are made new. I am not defined by my addiction, by my struggle, by my loss, by my heartbreak. I am, rather, defined by what Christ has done for me. I am a child of God, a follower of the King, a new person. One of the worst lies repeated in so many recovery cultures is that you are and will remain an addict for the rest of your life. That is not true according to Scripture and I want my people to see and believe in the power of the gospel to change who they are. They may continue to struggle for the rest of their lives, but they will not be defined by that struggle! Furthermore, after redemption we are given the assistance of the Holy Spirit to help us battle sin. In Romans 8:13 Paul writes, “If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” It is by the Spirit’s power and help that we can fight sin. The Spirit is also called our comforter (John 16:7). In the midst of our suffering the Spirit will give us strength and endurance to press on through it. The gospel changes us dramatically so that recovery becomes more than just a wishful thinking, it becomes possible.

The solidarity of the church too, plays a vital role in our recovery model. No one can overcome on their own. We all need a network of friends, advocates, and accountability partners who will help us fight, love us when we fall, and pray for us to succeed. The church is the best place for that to happen. The church is full of opportunities to get plugged into discipleship, to develop quality relationships. It’s also a diverse group with people both who have experienced specific, relevant struggles and who have experienced totally unrelated struggles. Both of those experiences are helpful for the process of individual recovery. That is to say, sometimes I need to hear directly from people who have been where I am at, and I need the encouragement of hearing their story and seeing the victory God has brought about in their life. My struggles are not unique to me, and if God has helped bring others through it I can trust him to bring me through it too (1 Cor. 10:13). At other times, however, I need to hear from people who are not like me. I need to see that we all struggle, we are all in the same boat. I need to hear how they have worked through their struggles. Sometimes, it can be helpful to think about my struggles from a different perspective and see it in a different light. The important thing, however, is that we learn no one should struggle alone. The church can be a safe place to work through issues, find help, and find encouragement.

That’s our goal at CBC. We want to plug people in to the life of our church even as the struggle both so they can find help, but also so they can look beyond their immediate struggle and see life in the bigger picture. We often become so focused on our own struggle and our own problems that we lose sight of our whole lives. Our myopic vision won’t allow us to see how other areas of our life may be contributing to or compounding our current struggles. Our focus on this particular issue won’t allow us to see how we can help others, how we can serve, how we can be used by God even in the midst of our difficulties. But life in the church gives us a bigger vision than just recovery, as important as that is. It helps shape the hope of the future. That’s the power of solidarity with the church.

I am going to outline in the next few weeks the distinctives of our ministry, but the power of the gospel is certainly the most important factor in our program. The higher power that motivates and enables our change is not nebulous, he has a name and that name is Jesus. The other marks that we will talk about in the coming weeks include the following:

1) Programs Don’t Heal People

2) Recovery Groups Aren’t Just For Addicts

3) Overcoming Your Struggle is A By-Product

4) Recovery Is A Ministry Of Movement

I’ll unpack each of those in the coming weeks and explore them in more detail, but we always tell folks who come to Recovery, our primary desire for them and their greatest need is to meet Jesus and grow in relationship with Him. That’s where we start because that’s what makes the biggest difference. We’ve seen it time and time again produce fruit. The gospel changes everything, even our recovery.

Comments

  1. Francis Akaki says:

    Thank pastor for your testimony of the TV.
    You have blessed me pastor Francis from Kenya

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