Here There Be Dragons

How do we offer healing rather than mere recovery?

Recovery groups are the hottest ministry in many churches today, as well as in society at large. Some say that the recovery movement is dead, but the numbers certainly challenge that. Such groups often replace small groups and Bible studies as the place to go to become enfolded in the local church. They offer hope to seekers who have accepted the concept of a Higher Power and are now trying to find Him. They provide an efficient means of ministering to men and women addicted to alcohol, drugs, sex, food, gambling and spending, as well as to incest survivors, adult children of alcoholics and co-dependents. Recovery groups can be a boon for many of these people, but they can also create pandemonium in fragile people if not handled well.

Back in the days of Christopher Columbus, maps showed the known world. Then beyond, out in the unknown, the map-maker would draw a picture of a great monster and write, "Here there be dragons." It was a testimony to the danger, yet opportunity, that lurked in the deeps. Few had ventured beyond the known world and most were sure that by sailing into dragon territory, they risked falling off the edge of the earth.

The church today stands at the edge of another map with the opportunity of serving the wounded lambs of a fallen culture. However, the most familiar method of ministry is the 12-step program, complete with its advantages and disadvantages. Anyone trying another approach hears cries of "Danger! Here there be dragons!" How can the church serve the recovery community with good rather than with harm? How do we avoid support groups that look like every other one in the community? How do we offer healing rather than mere recovery? After years of ministering to wounded people, I believe we can ...

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