What Churches Are Doing Right

“Why does preaching always talk about the badness of humanity but not the goodness of humanity?”

It was an interesting question. My daughter, age 15, is an aspiring preacher, herself. She has noticed that the sermons that seem to have the greatest impact are the ones that talk about what we are doing wrong as Christians and as the church.

Our conversation went on to talk about the balance of convicting people (which will often come across as negative) with acknowledging the good that is being done (which will often come across as positive).

Her follow-up question was, “Why don’t we hear more of those acknowledgments?”

It is a necessary conversation to have. I hope wherever you live you can have this conversation with your family and with your church.

But it led me to think about this topic in a different context:

I have long stated that churches do a poor job helping addicts recover. I started this blog with the hopes of starting conversations, raising awareness, and providing insight into how “normal” people can help those of us who struggle with various forms of addiction.

But I have I forgot to mention the good parts? I have failed to point out that there are some good things going on in some Christian circles?

If I have, let me try to correct that.

Church offers a place of healing. One of the blessings of social media is to be connected with friends all over the country and even in some other parts of the world. That connection allows me to have a small glimpse into their places of worship. There a lot of churches out there who are intentional about being Spirit led. They are not focused primarily on tradition or primarily on show, but first and foremost on allowing God’s grace and mercy to flow through. Many pastors are learning about the pain their members are experiencing and speaking to that. If you have found one of these places, be grateful. If you are still looking, please do not give up. There are a lot of Godly houses of worship out there.

Church offers community. Many churches are learning how important it is to create community as opposed to padding numbers. Sunday school classes, small groups, activities, and service projects are becoming more and more popular. Which is great. One things most recovering addicts need is community. (Which is why the AA model has endured for 80+ years.) The community that is created does not need to necessarily address “Jesus and the 12 Steps” or some such topic. All community needs to do…is be community. This is also an area where home based churches are so powerful. People who have spent most of their lives in isolation are truly blessed by a community who knows them and loves them, warts and all.

Church provides guidance. And by guidance, I mean spiritual leadership. Mentoring. Examples of people living faithful lives even in the face of difficulties. It is much easier to get out of one’s self when there are others you can follow. Again, the guidance aspect of AA (sponsor-sponsee) is one of the reasons it has been around for so long. Churches are learning how important this is. This doesn’t have to be done formally (in fact, it goes hand in hand with community), but it just needs to happen. As people in recovery observe others, they learn that people can deal with the difficulties of life in healthy ways. I have been able to witness a lot of relationships between non-addicts and addicts that have yielded great results. Because both people just loved each other.

There is a lot that churches have to learn about dealing with addiction and recovery. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing anything right. So let me take this opportunity to thank the churches that have been instrumental in my recovery.

From Rochester, NY (Lawson Road Church of Christ and Hope Lutheran Church), to Pennington, NJ (Princeton Community Church), to Abilene, TX (Highland Church of Christ and Freedom Fellowship), I have been loved, nurtured, and carried to where I am today. My family has been shown extreme care and love as they dealt with all the consequences my addiction wrought upon our family. They have not gotten everything right. But neither have I. We are just a bunch of humans fumbling our way along this journey we call life.

And I have been able to witness a lot of the goodness of humanity along the way.

Rest

Rest.

So hard to find. So hard to accept. So necessary for surviving. So necessary for thriving.

I don’t like to rest. I feel lazy. I feel non-productive. I feel as if I am wasting time.

And I also am tired, exhausted, worn out. I am not really able to complete anything well because I don’t have the physical or mental energy required. Without rest, I often settle for good enough. Which drives my perfectionism crazy! I must do better. So since I am tired and only doing “good enough,” I must work harder and more often.

Why don’t I rest?

As a parent, I know my children need sleep.

As a therapist, I know the value of rest for mental health.

As a minister, I know the value of rest for spiritual health.

As a teacher, I know that my students need to rest to become more successful.

As a recovering alcoholic, I know that if I do not rest I put myself at higher risk to relapse.

So with all that knowledge, why don’t I rest?

I am on vacation this week. I have nothing planned. I am reading, writing, and watching TV. I am moving from sleeping to sitting. I am talking with friends and family. I am accomplishing nothing.

And it is wonderful.

We can’t all take vacations whenever we feel like it.

But we can all rest. We can all disconnect. We can all give our bodies the chance to recover.

If only we choose to do so.

So here is my challenge to you this week:

Do nothing. Take a break. Relax. Breathe. Even if it is only for 30 minutes. Find some time to be as non-productive, lazy, and time-wasting as you can be. You have permission.

Rest.