by Dale Ryan
Many church-based recovery ministries use Bible studies on recovery themes as an ‘entry level’ recovery experience or as a way to help people integrate what they are learning in recovery with their faith. It is important not to confuse a ‘bible study’ with a ‘support group’. They are usually very different kinds of group experiences. A Bible study on recovery themes can, however, provide an introductory experience which makes it easier for people to move on to a support group. There are a number of Bible studies on the market that might be useful for this purpose.
This particular format uses the Life Recovery Guide on Codependency by Dale and Juanita Ryan (Available from the NACR Online Store ) and is designed not only to encourage Bible study but also to introduce group participants to some of the social norms and customs which are common in 12 Step groups. Depending on your target population, adjustments would allow any of the Life Recovery Guides to be used in this way.
Each Life Recovery Guides contains studies of 6 biblical texts. Many recovery programs use them in a seven week unit – one week for introduction and one week on each of the studies. The introductory session might include a variety of activities including:
a) an overview of the recovery resources which are a part of this program
b) an introduction to the group’s goals and customs
c) testimonies from people who have participated in the program in the past
d) a presentation on the focus of the study by the group leader
LIFE RECOVERY GUIDE – RECOVERY FROM CODEPENDENCY
1. Welcome – Introduction – Small Groups Formed
2. Opening Prayer(Serenity Prayer)
God, grant me the serenity 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. AMEN.
3. Read the 12 Steps & Corresponding Scripture
4. Read the Introduction to the Life Recovery Guide (Pages 11-13 in Recovery from Codependency)
5. Read the Group Goals
The goals of this group are a) to study the Bible as it applies to some of our daily struggles and b) to have a safe place to honestly and directly talk about our lives and how, with God’s help, we are struggling to change and grow.
6. Read the Group Guidelines:
1) CROSS TALK. In recovery group meetings, we try to avoid ‘crosstalk’. We attempt to listen to what other people say without comment, discussion or follow-up questions. We work toward taking responsibility for our own feelings, thoughts and actions instead of giving advice to others. If we choose to respond to something someone has said, we draw our comments from our own experience of a similar situation. Acknowledging or affirming someone for their sharing can be accomplished by a simple word of thanks.
2) SPIRITUALIZING. Sometimes in church-based groups there is a tendency to overspiritualize our sharing. This can interfere with the impact of our sharing by putting the focus on our theological or scriptural opinions or on how we ‘should’ feel or ‘should think. The intent of our sharing in recovery groups is to talk honestly about how we actually do feel and think and on how, with God’s help, how we are struggling to grow in our actual life situations.
3) ALLOWING FOR SILENCE. An important purpose of this group is to create a safe place for participants to freely express their feelings without judgment. When someone expresses their emotions as part of their sharing, however, we may sometimes find ourselves feeling uncomfortable. This may be especially true if a time of silence follows someone’s sharing. Silence is not, however, a ‘problem’ in this group. It is an important opportunity for each of us to identify our own feelings. It is appropriate to acknowledge the person by thanking them for the courage shown in their sharing or to thank them for helping you identify feelings you were unable to express. Touching or hugging is appropriate only after asking and receiving permission from the person who has shared. It is important to respect the personal boundaries of a person who has emotionally opened themselves up.
4) BASIC COMMITMENTS. We make the following basic commitments as members of this group:
a. Anything said in this group is considered confidential and will not be discussed outside the group unless specific permission is given to do so.
b. We will provide time for each person present to talk if he or she feels comfortable doing so.
c. We will talk about ourselves and our own situations, avoiding conversation about other people.
d. We will listen attentively to each other.
e. We will avoid giving advice.
f. We will pray for each other.
7. Read the introduction to the Bible study for the day, ask participants to work through the ‘Personal Reflection’ section of the Bible study on their own.
8. Have participants read the text aloud in small groups and work through the Bible Study section of the study.
9. Share prayer requests and pray in small groups