What is the outcome or result of one changed life? I think that is what “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the well known, 1946 Christmas classic, was based upon. One life, and all the people one life touches.
Sometimes we focus on the numbers, while many of the most dramatic changes we cannot see immediately. They begin one, often painful, and time intensive change, in one person at a time. The changes continue producing fruit for generations and touching unlimited numbers of people. How do you measure that?
When we think of programming, we are looking for measurable results. Sometimes they might be in-process. That is tough. In this techno savvy world, we are conditioned to expect instantaneous or at least easily measurable results. Human beings are by nature, not wired that way.
It takes time when the recipient of your energy, love, compassion, empathy and knowledge is a human being. Sometimes it takes more than one person or group of people to bring a person into wholeness. Often that starts with a program and in the church it should be Christ centered.
One such program that is offering promise in Five Rivers District is Celebrate Recovery. It started in Osage County, when Lyndon UMC’s pastor, the Rev. Loren Drummond began working with a group of fellow clergy and laity to brainstorm how such a program could be started.
Five churches were instrumental in the foundation of the program’s beginning. Four churches are from Lyndon: Lyndon United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church, Assembly of God, Mt. Pleasant Community Church and Grace Community of Overbrook, Kan.
There were originally two startup locations. The current program is at Lyndon at the First Baptist Church location. The Overbrook location in Grace Community Church has been discontinued.
All involved with the planning agreed that in order for this program to be effective it would need more energy than one pastor and congregation could provide. This need could be best met by a group of concerned denominations and people working together.
Drummond applied for a grant on Nov. 30, 2011, from the United Methodist Special Program on Substance Abuse and Related Violence (SPSARV) for start-up funding for Celebrate Recovery of Osage County. The program officially began in June of 2012.
Lyndon UMC, through Drummond, received a grant of $4,000 on Jan. 31, 2012. Their anticipated budget for the program startup was $11,540. They needed to provide other sources of funding to apply for this grant and working as an interdenominational cluster, were able to do this.
So what is Celebrate Recovery? You can find just about everything you need in the way of information on their website at www.saddlebackresources.com.
This program began at Saddle Back church where Rick Warren (“The Purpose Driven Life”) and John Baker founded it in 1990. The program is aimed at all “hurts, habits, and hang-ups”, including but not limited to drug and alcohol addictions, sex addition, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and people who have been sexually abused.
It differs from Alcoholics Anonymous in that they are very specific about whom the “higher power” is. The first principle of the program is Jesus Christ is the one and only higher power. The program is first and foremost a Christ-centered ministry.
The Bible and Celebrate Recovery curriculum consisting of the Leader’s Guide, four Participant Guides, and the Celebrate Recovery Journal are to be used exclusively. “It is based on the actual words of Jesus rather than psychological theory,” writes Rick Warren in the program book introduction.
The group meeting in Lyndon consists of pastors, leaders and participants who have been working through the steps and principles themselves first, to better help others. They are trained through the curriculum how best to work through the steps and principles through Bible study and small group, gender-based breakout sessions.
They begin with dinner; move to a short worship/praise meeting as a group with a biblical based lesson. They end the evening by breaking into male/female groups to work out of participant guided workbooks.
I think one woman in the group summed it up very well. “It’s just so good to know I am not alone with my problems. There is this group of “safe” people that I can call on at any hour to help me work through my problems.”
Another group leader shared how even those who started out to be in leadership have realized they also had issues and “steps” to work through as well.
So, one life at a time, Lyndon UMC, along with neighboring churches is working on making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Sound familiar?
The Rev. Loren Drummond and his group are willing to offer advice and help if you are interested in starting a Celebrate Recovery program at your church. Their leaders visited several other groups in existence before launching their current program. You can contact Drummond at email@example.com or at Lyndon UMC, 785-828-4744.
Marve Ralston, Five Rivers District administrative assistant