A lot of churches are uncomfortable dealing with addiction. It’s messy. It’s painful. It hurts a lot of people, not just the addict. And it appears like a lack of willpower. It is seen as a sign of weakness. And it is often obvious. If someone walks in high or drunk or hungover, it is usually easy to notice.
My guess is a lot of people would like to know how to addiction-proof their church. Is there any way we can move forward knowing that we will not be potentially allowing someone to stand in the pulpit, or be on the praise team, or lead a prayer, who may be high or buzzed or slightly incapacitated.
And there is. There is one simple step you can take to make sure addiction is never an issue in your church ever again:
Stop having church.
See? Pretty simple! In order to assure addiction is never present in your church again, your church has to stop accepting people. Which pretty much means it can no longer be a church.
Too many of us have forgotten the reason we have “church.” Church is not a place where the people who have it all figured out show up to pat one another on the back. Church is a place where we gather to acknowledge our weakness, our shortcomings, our need for community and to celebrate the grace that frees us from the bondage of ourselves.
Instead of ridding our churches of addiction or sin or problems (because to do so means no people can come to church), we accept those that come, warts and all. We welcome all the hurting, lost, hopeless, despairing, struggling people who walk through our doors.
Because that’s what church is. A place to offer grace, hope, and freedom to people who are lost, despairing, and in bondage.
Now to be sure, we don’t stay there. We hold one another accountable. We call one another to something better. We pray with and for one another to overcome the temptations in our lives. We serve others because that is what the people of God do.
So, yes. You can addiction-proof your church. You can even go all out and completely sin-proof your church.
But why would you want to? Thank God that Jesus’s mission was not to create a sin free zone. Jesus’ mission was to create a place where all the hurting, sinful, broken people could come and find healing.
And for that, I am grateful.