The following schedule is a six-week plan that can serve as a guide in establishing a recovery support group program. Prior to formal planning, hold an exploratory meeting with individuals who are willing to support a recovery ministry. This initial gathering can help in identifying possible co-facilitators and others in the church who are familiar with twelve-step programs. It can also help in determining recovery issues to be addressed. During the process, pray that God will direct decisions and inspire people to become involved.
- Meet with the pastor or leader who is responsible for coordination to discuss the need for a recovery support group ministry.
- Select a group facilitator who meets some of the following qualifications:
Prior or concurrent participation in the recovery process through a twelve-step program such as substance abuse, eating disorders, codependency, adult children of alcoholics, or sexual abuse.
A minimum of one-year abstinence from mood-altering substances.
Familiarity with group leadership or experience in leading a recovery group.
An understanding of the dynamics of recovery that includes setting appropiate boundaries and developing healthy interdependent relationships.
- Prepare and distribute a congregational survey to determine the issues that need to be addressed in the meetings. Refer to the sample survey included in the Appendix.
Determine how it will be circulated to selected groups in the church and within the community. Plan to collect all surveys by the end of week two.
Develop the organizational aspects of the group.
- Set a starting date, day and time of the meeting. Allow adequate time to process survey information and circulate publicity announcements Resolve any concerns about group process or content, especially the concept of peer leadership and the use of materials that focus on finding healing through practicing one’s faith.
- Obtain a meeting room and plan a comfortable seating arrangement. Plan simple refreshments.
- Arrange for child care if it is to be made available.
Develop a plan to publicize the meetings.
- Prepare a written announcement that includes a description of the group, the date and time of the meeting, and other pertinent information. Sample meeting announcements are included at the end of this Chapter.
- Prepare an announcement to be read during church services.
- Arrange for testimonies to be presented to interested church groups by facilitators and/or key program support people. Develop a plan for introducing the issues of recovery to the congregation.
- Arrange with the pastor to present a sermon that relates to the topics to be addressed by the group, or a broader message on healing the brokenness of our past.
Develop the Program
- Meet with the pastor or support group coordinator to review the results of the congregational survey. Begin planning the Primary Level open meeting and Level One classes.
- Determine the topics to be covered in the Level One meeting and select the appropriate book(s) from the Living Free Program materials. The books in this level include:
The Twelve Steps – A Spiritual Kindergarten
When I Grow Up…I Want To Be An Adult
- Create a calendar to determine the dates and sequences of the courses to be offered on all levels. A sample program calendar is included at the end of Chapter Five.
- Order the books required and make announcements that the meetings are starting. A sample meeting announcement for each course is included in the books that will be used. Study the introductory material and meeting format included in the selected materials. An abbreviated meeting announcement is included at the end of this Chapter.
- If assistance is needed during the planning process, please Email: TSOutreach@aol.com, or all (360) 245-3386 and ask for information on the Living Free Program, or a catalog of books used in the program.
Publicize the Meetings
- Publicize the meetings that will be starting and distribute announcements.
- Establish dates for testimonies and sermons.
- Set a date for presenting the concept of recovery, which can include a Sunday school panel discussion on family dysfunction, codependency, or addictive/compulsive behaviors.
- Arrange a meeting to establish a core support group of people who are willing to help during the meetings. Invite people who have participated in twelve-step recovery programs to attend. Encourage them to support the new recovery ministry and serve as a resource to newcomers.
Prepare For the First Meeting(s)
- Review the Primary Level Meeting Format at the end of this Chapter or the meeting format in the Level One book selected for review. Follow the instructions for the introductory meeting that are included in the materials.
- Visit the meeting location and arrange for sufficient chairs, a table for refreshments, and a television/VCR if required.
- If necessary, make signs to direct people to the room.
- Confirm childcare arrangements.
- Obtain supplies needed for refreshments.
- Contact core support group members to confirm their involvement and availability. Meet with them to review the ground rules for the meeting as outlined in the selected text.
- Organize meeting supplies, including nametags, pencils, papers and 3×5 cards.
- Clarify any questions regarding the meeting format.
Day of First Meeting
- Arrive one hour before the meeting to arrange the room and prepare the refreshments.
- Review the requirements for conducting the first meeting and ask for help if needed.
- Greet all that attend and distribute the required materials.
- Invite individuals to attend the following week and encourage them to attend the Primary Level open meeting.
- After the first meeting, meet with the core support group members and make any necessary adjustments to the meeting format.
Ongoing Management of the Living Free Program
- Have regularly scheduled meetings with the congregational care or support group pastor to evaluate the progress of the groups.
- Assist the pastor in keeping current on recovery ministry information through news articles, books and conferences.
- Inform the pastor of any situation involving a program participant who may require referral to a professional counselor because of their behavior or actions.
- Conduct facilitator briefings prior to the regularly scheduled meetings. This is a time to prepare announcements, review materials to be covered and to introduce prospective and regular facilitators to the process of conducting the meetings and appropriately handling matters that may arise. See Chapter Four for a review of Facilitator Qualifications and Responsibilities.
- Make regular announcements of the courses being offered and publicize them several weeks before the meeting is to begin.
- Have regular introductory meetings to provide an overview of the program and announce courses that are being offered.
- Determine how voluntary financial contributions from the Living Free groups will be used. Consideration may be given to rent, childcare, buying books for a recovery library, etc.
- Ask participants to complete a Class Evaluation (see Appendix 3) prior to the final meeting of a particular course. Summarize the responses and review the information with the pastor and other facilitators.
Living Free Program Introduction
The __________________ Church is offering the Living Free Program for people who were raised in an emotionally repressive or dysfunctional family. The goal of this ministry is to promote personal growth and spiritual enrichment for individuals who are seeking recovery from the traumas of their past. The program curriculum is based on the twelve-step process as a spiritual discipline with an emphasis on Christ-centered recovery. The program assists people in establishing and maintaining a loving relationship with God, themselves and others, and provides a safe environment where they can share their thoughts and feelings. With the grace of God, they can move from pain and denial toward healing and wholeness.
Living Free Program sessions are offered on four ascending levels. The curriculum includes materials for individuals just beginning recovery, as well as for people in recovery who are familiar with twelve-step programs. Each level helps individuals increase self-esteem and cope with problems that affect their lives. Program participants can gain valuable insight about themselves, as they identify and confront significant issues in their lives.
At this time, we are offering the following courses at the indicated times. For further information contact the church office.
__________ Introductory Level: Open Meeting (Weekly)
__________ Level One: The Twelve Steps – A Spiritual Kindergarten
_________ Level One: When I Grow Up…I Want To Be An Adult
__________ Level Two: The Twelve Steps for Christians
__________ Level Three: The Twelve StepsA Spiritual Journey
What: Course Topic
When: Date June 4, 1992 Time 7:00 PM
Where: 123 "Any" Street, Room __, Any Town
Who: Person to contact for questions Mary Jones
Primary Level: Open Meeting
The Primary Level meetings are conducted weekly on an ongoing basis. Individuals are invited to attend these meetings before making a commitment to the more structured meetings in Levels One, Two and Three. These meetings are helpful for individuals who are just beginning recovery. They may still be identifying codependency or adult child issues and are not ready to make a commitment to participate in the more structured program.
Level One: Introduction to Recovery Issues
Level One introduces individuals to fundamental issues common to people in the beginning stages of recovery. The text offers wisdom and encouragement through emphasis on solid biblical principles.
Book used: The Twelve Steps – A Spiritual Kindergarten
This book introduces the Twelve Steps as a way for Christians to improve their relationship with God, themselves, and others. It explains the function of the Twelve Steps and applies their principles in a Bible Study format. The reader learns how to apply the Twelve Steps and Scripture in combination to support their life journey. It is designed to be use for a 12-week study.
Book used: When I Grow Up…I Want To Be An Adult
A ten-week course presenting foundation material for adults who suffer from a wounded childhood. It explores ways to discover our child-like nature and provides guidelines for Christ-centered recovery groups. The objective is to bring our healing home to family, friends and loved ones.
Level Two: Introduction to the Twelve-Step Recovery Process
Level Two is an introduction to the Twelve Steps as a spiritual discipline and demonstrates the compatibility between Christianity and the Twelve Steps.
Book used: The Twelve Steps for Christians
The objective of the course is to discover the healing power of the twelve-step process when worked within a Christian perspective. The material is written for individuals who experienced trauma or some type of deprivation in their childhood.
Level Three: Twelve-Step Recovery
Level Three is an extensive 28-week course that presents the twelve-step process as a spiritual journey toward healing from childhood traumas and self-defeating behaviors.
Book used: The Twelve StepsA Spiritual Journey
This course requires that participants read each chapter and answer questions prior to attending the weekly meetings. The text contains weekly exercises for use within small group settings. Biblical references aid Christians in confronting their past and surrendering their lives to God as part of their recovery journey.
Primary Level Meeting Format
"Welcome to Living Free, a fellowship of the ___________ recovery ministry. My name is _____, and I am __________ (a codependent, alcoholic/addict, etc.) recovering in this program."
"Please join me for a moment of silence, after which we will recite the Serenity Prayer."
God, grant me the
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time,
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did,
this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You forever in the next.
"If there is anyone here for the first time, please raise your hand and give us your first name so we can greet you."
"As a fellowship of men and women recovering from behaviors tat have affected us in our lives, our purpose is to grow spiritually and in our relationship with God. For our Guide, we use the Bible and _________________________to help us on our journey of recovery. We are here for our own benefit, to share our own experience, strength and hope with others. We are not here to talk about others, to condemn, criticize, or judge them. Our desire is to improve the quality of our lives as we apply what we learn from listening to and sharing with each other. Our hope is in the belief that we can succeed today in situations where we failed previously. As we place ourselves in the care of our Higher Power, Jesus Christ, our attitudes improve as we honestly, openly, and willingly look at who we are and engage in healthier behavior. Many of us medicate our feelings through addictive/compulsive behaviors such as work, food, sex, religion, relationships, or alcohol and other drugs."
"By working the Twelve Steps, we gain the help, comfort and courage to look at the past, deal with it honestly and progress in our recovery journey with Jesus Christ. We believe that living "one day at a time" is Christian living at its best. May you find in this fellowship of discovery and recovery a life that is abundant, honest, joyous and free."
"I’ve asked ___________ to read the Twelve Steps, and I’ve asked _____________ to read the corresponding Bible verse for each Step."
"As your leader for this meeting, I will share for a few minutes, then will open the meeting for general discussion relating to the topic being covered. If you would like to share, please raise your hand to be recognized. Keep your sharing on recent experiences and events in your life. Focus on your personal strength and hope and limit your sharing to three to five minutes. This is a spiritually centered program, and we ask you to also share how your spirituality relates to the topic or the Step being discussed."
"The topic I’ve selected for this meeting is _____________."
"Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of this program, ever reminding us to place principles above personalities. Whom you see here, what is said here, when you leave here, let it stay here, so that this meeting can be a safe place for us to speak honestly about our spiritual journey."
"This meeting is intended to supplement, not replace, other twelve-step meetings. We encourage you to attend other meetings that apply to your situation. We also support you in getting a sponsor and working the Steps, one day at a time."
"Living Free is a recovery program sponsored by this church as a way to introduce people to Christ-centered recovery. There are various courses of study offered throughout the year, which include meetings for individuals at all levels of recovery. A calendar of these courses is available on the literature table. We encourage you to bring friends to this or to other Living Free meetings and invite them to experience some of the benefits that can be gained from participating in this program."
"Are there any recovery-related announcements?"
"Let us join hands and close with the Lord’s Prayer."