Every Church Should BE a Recovery Ministry

Emergency Room

Some churches don’t want a recovery ministry – a ministry that specializes in helping people deal with their addictions and pain – because of the messes they’d have to get involved in. That’s tragic. Most churches in this category are less than a generation from their graves because they’ve forsaken the ministry of Jesus.

Other churches get that reaching broken, messy people matters and they’ve launched recovery ministries to reach out to people with hurts, habits, and hang-ups. But often, the recovery ministry is the part of the church we’re happy to have on the side while hoping the broken, messy people don’t find their way on stage or into the mainstream of our leadership. Recovery ministry is seen as a good cause and an evangelistic tool, but perhaps little more.

There is a third category of churches rising up. These churches understand that we are ALL broken by sin, we ALL make messes, and recovery is something we ALL desperately need. These churches may or may not have an organized program for recovery, but they’ve determined to BE a recovery ministry from Sunday morning to small groups to staff and leadership development to volunteer placement. Everything is seen as an ongoing process of helping broken people find healing and redemption.

The Grace Hills Church staff has spent the past five weeks studying through an excellent little book that surveys various churches around the country that take recovery issues seriously. One of my favorite quotes thus far was this:

“There is a stirring in churches of all theological stripes to wed a red-hot passion for personal evangelism and discipleship with a compassionate love for the poor, marginalized, and addicted. The world is standing on tippy-toe to see this kind of church!”

– Pastor Jorge Acevedo
Grace United Methodist Church, Cape Coral, Florida

Swanson, Elizabeth A; McBean, Teresa J. (2011-07-05). Bridges to Grace: Innovative Approaches to Recovery Ministry (Leadership Network Innovation Series) Zondervan.

You may have heard it said before that the church isn’t merely a retirement home for the frozen chosen but an emergency room for dying sinners. It’s important for members of every local church to realize that every single last one of us has been a sinner, broken and devastated by sin’s effects and bound for hell forever. The grace of God that has saved us from such a fate should be motivation enough to fuel our compassion for people trapped in their problems.

I’m convinced that when churches embrace the mission of rescuing the broken, we won’t have a growth problem anymore. We’ll have a space problem.

I’m broken. And I’m shamelessly trusting Jesus as my Healer. And thankfully, I’ve found a church that IS a recovery ministry – a family that will faithfully love me through my own hurts, habits, and hang-ups and give me space to minister to others who are wrestling with the same.

I’m praying, like Pastor Acevedo, “God, send us the people nobody wants or sees.”

photo credit: Sailing “Footprints: Real to Reel” (Ronn ashore)

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About the Author

I'm Brandon. I'm the Lead Pastor of Grace Hills Church in Northwest Arkansas, which my wife, Angie, and I planted in January of 2012. I previously served as a Pastor at Saddleback Church and still manage Pastor Rick Warren's online, global ministry to pastors, Pastors.com. I also lead a blog about blogging, a blog about social media, and a blog about men's issues. And I've written a book - Rewired, which challenges the church to adopt social media to spread the good news about Jesus. I sometimes take on church website design projects and I coach pastors and leaders as well. I'd love to hear from you!
1 Response
  1. Amen. I believe we often view ‘recovery ministries’ as a necessary weight, simply because the lens through which we view the broken is tarnished. We view drug addicts, alcoholics, or convicted criminals as someone who does not measure up to the great standard we have in our white picket fenced home with 2.5 kids and three car garage. The truth is that an Ivy League graduate is not the measuring stick; Jesus is. As such, because we are nowhere near His perfection, we are broken. We are messy when compared to the original image in which we were created. We need rehab, recovery, and redemption. Timely reminder.

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