Celebrate Recovery: Healing for Our Hurts, Hang-ups and Habits

ROCKWALL, TX (Dec. 18, 2014) There’s at least one group in Rockwall County that won’t take a break for the Christmas holidays. In fact, this Christian fellowship is offered every Friday night of the year—52 weeks running.

“Well, we did cancel for an ice storm once.”

Sarah Kelly explained to me that addictions and other hurtful habits don’t take holidays off either. She serves on the volunteer team of “coaches” for the Celebrate Recovery (CR) ministry at Eastridge Church of Christ in northeast Rockwall.

Celebrate Recovery provides a place for people to share their struggles as they work through healing. The program at Eastridge started up in early 2013 as “a Christ-centered spiritual recovery ministry for anyone and everyone.”

Aaron Shotts is Associate Minister of Music and Ministry Support at the church and also serves as a CR coach. He initially became involved to help lead worship, but says he realized he could benefit from the ministry for himself. “So many people think it’s just a ‘recovery’ program for people with ‘those’ types of problems,” he says. “A more accurate description is that it provides spiritual healing. And who doesn’t need healing in their lives?”

Hurts, hang-ups, and habits 

Celebrate Recovery was birthed out of well-known Saddleback Church by John Baker, a recovering alcoholic who served in pastoral care and counseling at the church. He made it his mission to help others break free from dysfunctional behaviors. In 2007 he wrote Life’s Healing Choices: Freedom from Your Hurts, Hang-Ups, and Habits (Howard Books), which details steps to spiritual freedom based on the Beatitudes of Jesus (Matthew chapter 5) and implementing the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Baker says God gave him the vision to create a safe place for support, not only for alcoholics, but “for codependents, people with eating disorders, those struggling with sexual additions, anger . . . abuse issues” and more.

According to CelebrateRecovery.com, this ministry has started in over 20,000 churches worldwide!

A safe environment

The Eastridge CR group welcomed me as a “newcomer” on the Friday night in November that I visited. I arrived at 7 p.m., just in time for their Worship and Large Group hour. Others took advantage of the church’s hospitality by coming for dinner at 6:00. The Fresh Start Café-hour provides time for fellowship. The church charges only $4 and subsidizes any additional costs. (They also provide childcare for the evening).

As worship began, I took a seat in the back row, which didn’t keep me from hearing the choir, though there was no choir. The Church of Christ denomination worships without instruments. Instead, the voices showed up—beautifully.

After a few sturdy hymns, participants came forward in turn, introducing themselves by first name only, followed by stating their personal struggle. Each speaker shared an insight and a Bible verse, which all of the attendees simultaneously recited from the overhead screen.

CR Training Coach Mark Rose came up to offer a prayer and to share announcements that included next Friday’s dinner menu—which sounded good! The rest of the hour included several mini-testimonies and a Bible lesson from the Celebrate Recovery Leader’s Guide, which is used by CR groups everywhere.

On the night I attended, nearly half of the 30+ participants were students, who at 8:00 headed off to The Landing, CR’s program for 7th to 12th graders. It’s designed to help teens “deal with the craziness, stress, and pain of life . . . .”  (Sarah Kelly says the church also plans to offer Celebration Place, for kids ages 6 through 6th grade, “hopefully by February, 2015.”)

The Open Share hour for adults provides time for sharing. Small break-out groups are gender specific and adhere to CR guidelines that serve to enforce a safe environment.

Many who complete the Celebrate Recovery course keep attending meetings for continued accountability. They’re heeding the words we recited from the screen during my visit: So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! —1 Corinthians 10:12 (NIV). 

Find out more by visiting CelebrateRecoveryRockwall.com or call Mark Rose at 214.808.1241.  

By Blue Ribbon News contributing writer Patti Richter of Heath. 

Photos courtesy of Celebrate Recovery, Eastridge Church of Christ.

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