Take a close look at recovery when considering church health
Missouri Baptist churches were challenged last year to become healthier, so it stands to reason there are ways to make it happen.
Church health is produced by church honesty. Is there sin in the camps of our congregations? A five-year slide in baptisms is one indicator that there may be. How effectively are we examining ourselves before God?
Are there secret sins among our laity? Are our pastors holy? How accountable are we to one another? Do repenting ministries excite us?
At last year’s annual meeting, a non-binding resolution was passed that commended organizations and ministries that treat alcohol-related problems from a biblical perspective, promote abstinence, and encourage local churches to begin and/or support such biblically-based ministries.
CR is a ministry that I belong to at the Missouri Baptist church where I am a member. We meet once a week and are healthier for it.
The stigma with CR is that it only works for drunks, dopers, and other “really messed up” people. Most Baptists, on the other hand, are thought to be “good” people who do not need a Celebrate Recovery type of ministry because they do not really sin to the extreme. It is generally accepted that most “good” Baptists have things like alcoholism, sexual addiction, codependency, domestic violence, overeating, and gambling addiction under control, not to mention the “hurts, habits and hang-ups” that CR addresses.
Can I be honest with you? For much of my Christian life, I did not have sexual addiction under control. I used pornography. More than once. I hurt my marriage because of it. There was sin in my camp. Really bad sin.
Through Celebrate Recovery, I am learning that repentance brings healing, that sanctification breeds trust, and that accountability deepens fellowship. Somehow I can gaze back in time and see the disciples walking this way. The kingdom bonds they shared must have been beautiful.
One of our leaders is in Palau, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, as a short-term missionary charged with planting a CR ministry there. James, who is a willing vessel, is praying for native leaders who are steady, loving, prayerful and humble. This is how God works through CR. He takes willing saints and molds them into Christ-like servants.
No one has a corner on church health. There is no magic pill for all 400,000 Missouri Baptists to swallow so that we all can be spiritually well. Repentance is not a pill. Repentance is hard. Christ died a hard death on Golgotha. There’s just no getting around that fact.
Consider that God has not left us as orphans. We do have tools. Know that CR works. It aids church health. (Allen Palmeri is associate editor of The Pathway.)