Every day, recovering people meet at a variety of locations—churches, homes and community centers. No pre-registration is required for these meetings. Interested individuals simply locate a group that focuses on their particular problem and then attend the meeting. Group participants remain essentially anonymous; they need not reveal any personal information except their first names. During the meetings, they are free to speak openly and honestly about current issues in their lives or to remain silent and listen to others. In this environment, participants don’t have to pretend their lives are perfect and free of problems.
Recovery support group meetings vary in format, cover many different subjects and utilize different types of materials. The most important factor for a person to consider in choosing a group is to find one that is compatible with his or her values and beliefs. Such a group can provide a solid foundation for initiating the healing process. Through group meetings, participants are encouraged to identify and focus on a Higher Power of their choice. There is usually little or no reference to Jesus Christ as this Higher Power.
As churches become more involved in the recovery movement, Christians are beginning to form Christ-centered recovery support groups. In these groups, Christ is identified as the Higher Power. Based on the same concepts as secular support groups, these groups constitute a voluntary social network of people organized around common needs and a process of mutual aid. Unlike secular groups, however, Christ-centered groups encourage participants to focus on Christ and his teachings as a vital part of their recovery.
Types of Christian Recovery Support Groups
Most recovery support group meetings are based on an adaptation of the Twelve Steps. Beyond this common denominator, however, meetings can vary widely. At some meetings, participants who want to talk can share thoughts and feelings with the group. At designated speaker meetings, one person speaks about an event or talks about his or her personal history. Some meetings follow a specific workbook format, while others focus on reading and discussing a pertinent book. Recovery support group meetings can be open or closed; some are open for the first several weeks and then closed to newcomers. Following is a brief description of the most common types of meetings.
Drug and Alcohol Groups
Drug and alcohol groups provide Christian love, support and direction to people suffering from chemical dependency or compulsive behavior. Participants are nurtured toward a balanced lifestyle of Christian discipleship and accountability, using scripture and the Twelve Steps as the basis for achieving sobriety and serenity.
Codependency groups provide Christian love, support and direction to those individuals who engage in compulsive behaviors which were learned by family members in order to survive in a family that is experiencing great emotional pain and stress. Participants have the opportunity to share their experience, strength and hope with one another in order to find a healthier way of living.
Adult Children Groups
Adult children groups provide a safe place for adults to become whole in Christ. Children from dysfunctional families often grow up ill equipped for adulthood, either emotionally or spiritually. Because of their dysfunctional upbringing, they may be unable to establish a satisfying relationship with God. As a result, it is often difficult for them to realize His unconditional love and forgiveness.
General Recovery Groups
General recovery groups are designed to introduce people to the healing process and help participants discover biblical aspects of recovery. These meetings are based on four basic convictions: people are in need of recovery; recovery is a commitment to change; recovery is possible; and the Bible can be a significant resource for recovery.
Networks of Support Groups for Addicts and Families
A number of ministries are available to churches planning to establish Christ-centered recovery support groups. These groups provide a wide range of methods for establishing recovery support groups in the church.
Resources for children: Confident Kids
Resources for adults: For a list of networks of distinctively Christian Twelve Step groups go here