September is National Recovery Month. Throughout this month, North Alabama United Methodists are sharing their stories on various aspects of recovery ministries and how they bring transformation to people, local churches and communities.
Eight years of ministry at Church of the Reconciler has taught me many lessons about the disease of addiction. The most important being that the disease of addiction does not discriminate. I have met people from all walks of life in downtown Birmingham struggling with the disease. Even though they are all facing the consequences of poverty when I meet them, they did not all start out that way. I have met lawyers and police officers, as well as, hardworking blue-collar workers who lost everything because of the disease. While it might be obvious that people are struggling with addiction in downtown Birmingham, it is also important to acknowledge that this disease is plaguing our wealthiest suburbs as well.
It might even be safe to say that the disease of addiction is impacting all of us in one way or another. Despite its far-reaching impact, another lesson I learned about the disease of addiction is that communities do not like to talk about it. And when they do, they talk about it poorly. There is so much shame associated with addiction. People are ashamed to be an addict and people are ashamed to have a loved one in the family experiencing the disease. At the same time outside observers are wondering when those addicts will build some character, find Jesus, or “pull themselves up by the bootstraps.” This shame and these factless, unscientific opinions about addiction are not only preventing society from flourishing but they are limiting the power of the unconditional love of God in our local churches.
We are proud to announce the two resources coming in 2020 that we believe will transform local churches from purveyors of shame and factless opinions into active bodies of Christ that gives hope to those children of God experiencing addiction.
The first resource will tackle the problem of misinformation about the disease of addiction. In the new year, we will be offering an Addiction Advocacy Seminar that will accurately educate local churches. The seminar will clearly define addiction as a disease of the brain. It will destroy the stigma attached to the disease. Finally, it will discuss rehabilitation options supported by fifty years of science that provide the best path toward long-term recovery. We want to come not only to your youth groups, but also to your men’s and women’s groups. Remember: addiction does not discriminate.
With the information from our Addiction Advocacy Seminar, we are confident our conference churches will begin to see the disease of addiction differently. Within this more accurate view of addiction as a disease, we will be more ready to act.
Our second resource will utilize this motivation to empower members of our congregations to be Recovery Advocates. These advocates will learn the process of moving people within active addiction into rehabilitation services with the help of the Recovery Resource Center. This training will teach advocates who to call, where to go, and the tricks of the trade to ensure success. The Recovery Advocate’s picture and contact information will be displayed throughout the local church so that people will know who to seek out for help that comes without shame or judgment. With this process, our local churches will be prepared to use the unconditional love of God to move people from the disease of addiction and into full recovery.
We can envision a world in which people flock to the Lord’s house because they know for sure they will find help with the disease of addiction instead of avoiding church altogether because of shame and the fear of being judged. Will you become one of those churches?
For more information or to include your list in the training and education opportunities offered by this program, please contact Rev. Adam Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org.