By Myisha Cunningham
What is recovery Church? It is a group of people who work the twelve steps together through the lens of Jesus. We are 100% a 12-step program, but also 100% a church. The question becomes what kind of church do we want to be? While the mission of a church ideally stays the same, the vision of the church has some flexibility. It is usually subject to change as the community around it changes. Aubrey Malphurs, professor of pastoral ministries at Dallas Theological Seminary and author of over a dozen books relating to ministry states, “the vision provides us with a picture of what the mission will look like as it is realized in the community.” Recognizing addictions ministry is a very specific area of ministry within a specific community, the vision of recovery church will blend with its mission. Sticking with this definition of a church vision, I will explain the vision of Raven-Brook Recovery Church (RBRC).
As you know, recovery is not just for substance and alcohol use, some need recovery from gambling, pornography, anger, childhood trauma, domestic violence, etc. Recovery ministry in its purest form is just a healing ministry. The vision of recovery church is to be a city-wide effort to bring healing to Jackson. The vision is to partner with people all over Jackson united under one mission and one purpose: which is to heal Jackson.
The vision of RBRC is to intentionally create a Christian community amongst those in recovery, desiring to serve others in recovery, or those who have family in recovery, whom has a place to worship freely, grow in the Lord, and serve others. This community is different than most churches, because the vision is to create space where people can acknowledge that they have hurts, habits, addictions, and hang ups; and be given the tools within the Christian community to work towards healing found in Jesus. We live and work the 12 steps. It is also different than most churches, because RBRC seeks to be a hub of sorts for many recovery ministries, prison ministry, street ministry, etc. RBRC seeks to not only provide healing in Jesus, but to give those who are working through recovery the chance to offer this healing and impact others in the same way.
Historically, the church has neglected those with SUD and AUD; however, Recovery Church, through our vision says, “Welcome, you are home.” Church and addiction are often not used together in the same sentence. People are afraid of the messiness it brings. That exact messiness is the reason RBRC exists. There should be a place for people with all types of hurts, habits, addictions, and hang ups to find acceptance, love, and hope from the body of Christ.
The vision of RBRC acknowledges the difficulty of this ministry, while also acknowledging the extreme need for it; and honoring this ministry as part of the great commission. The blend of creating space for those in recovery or in need of recovery, and intentionally structuring a church to address those needs opens the door to its mission. RBRC provides the churches and others in Jackson a way to put down our differences and unite as the whole Body of Christ under one vision, which is to recover Jackson.
More difficulty comes with Covid-19. Our very own pastor lost her grandmother to the disease, so we understand the importance of staying safe and taking precautions. We no longer meet in person; however, we have included Zoom meetings for all of our services and groups including: our step studies, sponsees/sponsors meetings, church service, and two weekly devotionals. We have moved beyond Jackson and into the online world, bringing the message of hope and recovery. May 1st is our one-year anniversary and we look forward to the vision of recovery church continuing to go forth. The 12th step states,
“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
Here in this article, we have done just that. †
Pastor Myisha, affectionately known as Uni, is a published poet and activist. She loves writing, singing, herpetology, and playing chess with her husband. She is a life time learner and is currently working on her Master’s degree in Biblical and Theological Studies, with an emphasis on Leadership. She is in long term recovery and has a passion to help those bound in chains to addiction.