How to Host a Celebrate Recovery Program at Your Church


Sober Recovery Expert Author

Celebrate Recovery (CR) is a revolutionary program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous that has found its way into in many churches in the U.S. and around the world. Many people have worked its 12 Steps and found freedom and healing for their “hurts, habits and hang-ups.”

If you have been part of CR and seen its benefits, you may feel a call to host the program in your own church. However, in this scenario, desire alone is not enough to make it a success. CR is a large commitment and demands hard work from a team of dedicated leaders. So if you believe God is leading your church to run the program, you need to make sure you have a solid plan and the church’s support.

If you have been part of CR and seen its benefits, you may feel a call to host the program in your own church. However, in this scenario, desire alone is not enough to make it a success.

To start, it’s a good idea to take some time to write up a quick summary describing CR and how you believe it will make a positive impact not only in your particular church, but in your community. From there, ask the leadership and the congregation of your church the following key questions:

1. Does your church leadership support this kind of program?

This starts right at the top with your Pastor. Set up a meeting where you can share your plans, and lay out what you need from him. Does he agree with the beliefs of Celebrate Recovery and will he promote it? For instance, find out if he would be willing to mention CR from the pulpit. Perhaps he might use one of the principles as the basis for his weekly sermon. When the Pastor is on board with the program, there will be more cooperation throughout the church, including the Board, Elders or Diaconate.

Note: Listen to any concerns or questions your Pastor might raise with an open mind. He sees the bigger picture of your church and how ministries fit in with its core values. He may also be able provide valuable advice about running the program.

2. Is there a desire among church members for this kind of program?

If someone has directly asked about Celebrate Recovery, then there might be a core of people in place who really want the program. But if you’re not sure of the interest level, the best approach is to make a general pitch about CR. Use your summary as the basis of both a written "ad" in the service bulletin, and a verbal announcement. Mention a specific person to contact, either for more information or how to sign up for volunteering. Make it clear that all responses will be treated as confidential.

Note: You might not get a large response the first couple of times you mention CR, either because interest is low, or because people might hesitate out of awkwardness or fear. Give it a few tries. If you decide that now isn't the right time to start up a program, you can direct anyone who does ask about CR to another local meeting site or to the Celebrate Recovery website.

3. Does your church have the resources in place to run this program?

Now is a great time to forge connections with other church staff. First, sit down with the Finance person or committee to see if funds can be set aside for CR. Then, take a good look at the physical building and talk with the Trustees. (You’ll need 1 larger room and at least 2 smaller rooms for each gathering.) Remember, other ministries are probably already using those areas, so get in touch with those leaders to work out sharing the space. Contact the appropriate ministries to secure the sound equipment for the worship time and videos, to gain use of the kitchen for making coffee or serving food, and to borrow enough chairs for attendees.

Once you have secured the blessing of your church leadership and received a positive response from the church at large, you can then move onto actually setting the groundwork for a Celebrate Recovery. This includes several basic elements such as:

Budget: Even if another ministry oversees it, you’ll need specific funds for CR materials such as training manuals, videos and attendee books. Related expenses like coffee, paper goods, copier paper, pencils/pens need to be accounted for as well.

Personnel: You will be assigning people to run the meetings, lead worship, set up and clean up, prepare coffee and perhaps serve food. Ideally, you’ll get enough workers so that no one will have to do more than one job each week. Aim for about 10 to 12 to start.

Training: It's especially important for volunteers to be suited to serve in this ministry. Consider each person in terms of dependability, trustworthiness, compassion and maturity. Being able to keep confidentiality is vital, as is a dedication to the Christian faith.

A 90-day training period teaches the staff how to work the steps and principles for running meetings. Ongoing training should be offered through trips to summits, new videos, etc.

Note: To be effective CR leaders, your team members need to work the process themselves first. Be ready to guide them through as they begin to learn and apply the material.

Vision: As you make your initial plan, list what the goals are, making them achievable and measureable. Describe in detail what success for CR in your church looks like. Post them somewhere to keep the volunteers and members excited. Then, start looking ahead. Where would you like the ministry to be in 1 year, or 5 years? Let yourself dream, then map out how to get there.

For many, faith is an important part of recovery. Those who’ve experienced addiction’s pull would agree that sometimes, it can be the one thing that keeps them grounded. Setting up a CR program within your church, although difficult, can open to your community a road to recovery that is guided by the scripture and able to reinforce their core beliefs. If you’re looking for an existing faith-based rehab near you, feel free to browse our directory of Christian rehab centers or call 866-606-0182 to inquire about programs in your area.

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