I have first-hand knowledge of the Celebrate Recovery program, both as a participant and as a leader. If you are wondering what this program is all about, please read on.
Celebrate Recovery is now in roughly 5000 churches across the United States and 12 other countries. Pretty amazing for a program that started just 16 short years ago. This Christian recovery program is helping thousands of people recover from alcoholism and many other addictions. And it's not just for addictions. The program is designed for ALL church members who have "hurts, hangups, and habits". That includes EVERYONE!
It was the brainchild of John Baker, a recovering alcoholic and A.A. member. As a Christian, he felt at odds with a recovery program that discouraged his openness about his “higher power”, Jesus Christ, and at the same time stigmatized by fellow church members who did not understand his alcoholism.
He attended Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California which is pastored by Dr. Rick Warren, best known for authoring the best-selling book, A Purpose Driven Life. Dr. Warren encouraged John Baker to develop the Celebrate Recovery program at Saddleback. That was back in 1991, and CR has spread like wildfire around the U.S. and the world.
In 2006, I was blessed to be able to participate in the annual Celebrate Recovery Summit, a training and convention for CR leaders at Saddleback Church. The last night of the training included a taste of what the Celebrate Recovery program is like at Saddleback.
Here is what was printed inside the program on that Friday evening when I was at Saddleback attending Celebrate Recovery:
The purpose of Saddleback Valley Community Church’s “Celebrate Recovery” is to fellowship and celebrate God’s healing power in our lives through the 12 Steps and 8 Recovery Principles. This experience allows us to “be changed.” We open the door by sharing our experiences, strengths, and hopes with one another. In addition, we become willing to accept God’s grace in solving our lives’ problems. By working and applying these Biblical principles, we begin to grow spiritually. We become free from our addictive, compulsive, and dysfunctional behaviors. This freedom creates peace, serenity, joy, and most importantly, a stronger relationship with God and often others. As we progress through the program we discover our personal, loving, and forgiving Higher Power, Jesus Christ.
Churches that offer the Celebrate Recovery program generally have at the minimum a small group program for
Saddleback and many of the larger CR programs also offer small groups such as:
Celebrate Recovery is an international recovery movement which is Christ-centered and Bible-based. It is not affiliated with any particular Christian denomination. The Celebrate Recovery name is a registered trademark, and it asks churches that use its name to adhere to "the DNA of an authentic CR ministry".
I personally love Celebrate Recovery. I got involved in the ministry when I was about 2 years sober. Could I have gotten sober on CR alone? I don't think so. Actually, I'm almost certain I couldn't have! Unlike Alcoholics Anonymous, CR does not meet daily, and alcoholics need constant support and attention to a 12 Step program in the early days of sobriety.
For alcoholics in recovery, Celebrate Recovery makes for a wonderful supplement to the A.A. program. (Just My Opinion.)
I have been involved with CR at two different churches. At the first church, the leaders had a difficult time sticking to the "rules" of the CR program (the DNA of an authentic CR program mentioned above). There were too many ideas for improvement swirling around, and the program eventually became something entirely different than authentic Celebrate Recovery. The second church sticks to the program, and things seem to run much smoother.
Great Christian Website: Christian Help in the Modern World
Here are the Eight Recovery Principles based on the BEATITUDES. These form the backbone of the Celebrate Recovery ministry.
R= Principle 1 -Realize I'm not God; I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and my life is unmanageable.
"Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor"
E= Principle 2 -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"
C= Principle 3 -Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ's care and control.
"Happy are the meek"
O= Principle 4 -Openly examine and confess my faults to God, to myself, and to someone I trust.
"Happy are the pure in heart"
V= Principle 5 -Voluntarily submit to every change 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"
E= Principle 6 -Evaluate all my relationships; Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I've done to others except when to do so would harm them or others.
"Happy are the merciful" "Happy are the peacemakers"
R= Principle 7 -Reserve a daily time with God for self examination, Bible readings and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will.
Y= Principle 8 -Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and by my words.
"Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires"
CR also works their program around the classic 12 Steps. Those Steps can be summarized by the following principles, so you can see how they parallel the 8 Principles.
Step 1: CONVICTION OF SELF
Step 2: SEEKING GOD'S POWER
Step 3: SURRENDER TO CHRIST (The big difference between CR and secular programs.)
Step 4 & 5: CONFESSION OF WRONGS
Step 6 & 7: SUBMIT TO GOD'S CHANGES IN YOUR LIFE
Step 8 & 9: MAKE AMENDS AND OFFER FORGIVENESS
Step 10: KEEP A DAILY INVENTORY
Step 11: GROW CLOSER TO GOD
Step 12: HELP OTHERS BY SERVING
Click on this link to find a Celebrate Recovery meeting near you.