Starting a New Group

by | Mar 16, 2023

I would like to offer some encouragement to Celebrate Recovery groups that are just starting out.

So how did we start? We looked at various Christian recovery programmes. We chose Celebrate Recovery because it focused on our identity in Christ and the hope of recovery from any hurt, hang-up or habit.

We attended the online session on how to start a Celebrate Recovery group. Five men and five women from our church began by working through the Participant’s Guides on Zoom – as we were in lockdown – to grow potential leaders who got to know the material. About one third of our leaders had previous 12-Step experience.

We commenced our General Meeting Night on a Thursday starting with a meal.  In the main meeting we read the principles one week and the steps the next and have a testimony or lesson. Until we gained experience, we used You​Tube CR videos for these.  Within a few weeks we were asked for live testimonies and lessons.  As I had completed an online Step Study during Covid, I was able to follow the guidelines to writing a CR testimony – and was able to present that to the group. We used two appropriate worship songs from our computer system. We then closed the Large Group meeting with the Serenity prayer and had a 15-minute tea break (good for fellowship and sharing one to one.)

The ladies’ and men’s open share groups would then meet. Each person would introduce themselves emphasizing the identity in Christ if they were a Christian and what they are in recovery from. Someone would then read the five guidelines that keep us safe. There have been occasions where we have needed to remind people to use ‘I’ statements rather than ‘you need to do this’ type statements. We shared in an order round the room.  It became apparent quite quickly that we needed an accurate timer to encourage people to bring their shares to a close when it went off – usually 2-4 minutes depending on the group size.  We aimed to end promptly at 8.30pm.

We have been running for over a year now and are hoping to soon take some of our newer leaders through the Participant’s Guides with the vision of starting a Step Study, with two leaders, on a separate day from the General Meeting Night.

About one third of our numbers are in recovery from substance misuse with many other hurts, hang-ups and habits represented – OCD, anxiety, healing from emotional abuse, PTSD, co-dependency, overeating, grief, struggles with mental health.

God (of course) has been our steering force and it is He, not us, who touches people’s hearts, gently brings them out of their denial and ministers to them where they are.

Both the men and women have expressed gratitude and relief to have a safe space to share and we have now become a Celebrate Recovery community where we all belong.

God brings who he wants on the night and before we open the doors each week the hosts and others pray for 15 minutes for CR that night and all those who have been previously.

We are hoping to hold a training/support day for leaders in the future and are also aware we need to schedule debriefs as part of our support (this presently happens informally.)

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