Resource for Help: Celebrate Recovery

     In the last couple of weeks, I was made aware of a program sponsored by a church in area. The program is called Celebrate Recovery®. It is described as a help for those with “hurts, habits and hang-ups”. This program was started by John Baker from Saddleback Church. The Celebrate Recovery® program began in 1991 and has grown to serve folks in over 10,000 churches. You may have heard of Saddleback Church in California, as their Pastor Rick Warren wrote “The Purpose Driven Life”© series.

     The brochure for this program lists the purpose as helping those in need “to embrace God’s healing power by sharing our experience, strength and hope with one another. Through the process, we become willing to accept God’s grace in solving our problems, pain, shame, and addictions.”  There are explicit guidelines for what to expect and what is not included in the program. It is very clear this program is not for therapy. Leaders are not professional, licensed counselors.

    This program could be a resource for those leaving religious mind control groups. Some of the issues being addressed include: Depression, Divorce, Anger, Hurtful Relationships, Codependency, Eating disorders and Addictions. The program provides a safe place to share with others. There is respect given and expected from each participant.

     The list of things not to expect includes a place for selfish control, secrets or dating relationships. No long term commitment is required as well as no quick fixes are guaranteed. There are sharing guidelines that allow all who are willing to participate, to feel safe. Support for those in the group is expected, but no one is there to “fix” one another. What is said in the group stays in the group. Those outside the group environment need not know what is said in the group – even in the form of a prayer request!


    In the literature for the group, there are eight principles listed from Matthew 5- The Sermon on the Mount. Also, the “12 steps” are explained with biblical comparisons. The “Higher Power” is clearly defined as Jesus Christ. I have not studied the literature to offer any other information about it.

    I attended the local group on a recent Friday evening. The people were friendly and very open to hearing from the newcomers. There was a time for light snacks first, before a time of praise and worship. The group was lively and the music a little more “rocky” than I am accustomed to. There was speaker teaching a lesson taken from the material included in the program. After this time, newcomers were ushered to a room and briefed on the rules for continuing. At no point was there pressure from those in charge to tell your name or why you had come. If you desired, you were welcome to share. Questions were taken and answered. Next, men and women were taken to their respective, separate groups to join in the sessions already in progress. You could opt out at any point and leave if you felt uncomfortable.

    The men’s group I attended had about a dozen men and a leader. Men took turns answering the questions and sharing – if they felt comfortable. If not, no pressure was there to force any participation. You could just observe without being judged or goaded to participate. (This was quite refreshing and appealing compared to my years in Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). Keeping to yourself or being shy was addressed as sin at WOFF. You may have that “shy devil”… ) Next, the group leader summarized the intent of the structured sharing and closed in prayer. It was peaceful and friendly. However, no one rushed the newcomers to ask questions or make them feel uncomfortable in anyway. Participation was totally voluntary. No offering were taken as the sponsoring church hosts and totally supports the program. The only cost would be materials for the structured study that is offered. I had to ask about the material. The main point of the session I attended seemed to be to help people, not sell books and materials.

   This Celebrate Recovery® program may or may not be a help or solution for readers who themselves are looking for help. For those not ready to return to a church environment, this program may be a difficult fit. However, if you know of someone who could benefit, the website has more information as well as a list of churches that sponsor a program. Here is the link:  The leader of the local group was made aware beforehand of my intent to post a review of my experience. I was encouraged to do so- regardless of the outcome.

   Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. The author is not a licensed mental health professional and encourages those that need professional help to seek it. The intent of the material is to inform and be a resource. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. There are readers at WOFF. Comments are invited from all readers, including present or former members. Polls are not scientific and no private information is gathered.

    Look on the right side of any post for the option to subscribe by email for notifications or RSS feeds notifying of new postings. It is a great feature. Also, find more posts by selecting “Categories”.

      (Please, take time to read the Terms of Use for this personal blog. As mentioned, the information about WOFF is from my memories and recollections as perfect as that may be or not be. ) This is post number 103.

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12 thoughts on “Resource for Help: Celebrate Recovery”

  1. Sounds very interesting and encouraging. I can state that for myself it took me several years to want to attend church( after leaving WOFF) I wanted NOTHING to with orgainized religion. But I wanted to really know GOD AS FATHER WHO LOVES ME, not wants to beat me up (thru his ‘loving’ people at WOFF). I have found a wonderful fellowship in GREER. I attend AWAKENED. Not religious, but a wonderful group of people led by FATHER to help folks know who they are in JESUS. I am more WHOLE now than I have EVER BEEN. All I want is JESUS. Keep up your good work JOHN, It is very appreciated. Love and hugs and prayers!!!

  2. Celebrate Recovery is NOT a cult. It is NOT a separate religion or sect. It is a 12 step program that encompasses all hurts, habits, & hang ups. It is much like AA, NA, or any support group for that matter. It simply adds in the Christ element for those who are christians/catholics/believers in Christ. It is silly to call this such. If you would not call Over eaters anonymous, AA, NA, or any of those cults, then you shouldn’t call this one.

  3. Kendra,

    I did not say Celebrate Recovery was a cult. Where did that idea come from? The review was listed here as a possible resource for those coming out of groups such as I had been a part of. I regret the mistaken idea that you may have received from my post.


  4. I apologize. It came up in my searches for Celebrate Recovery icons and read: Celebrate Recovery: Religious Cults Info and I guess I miss understood.

  5. This celebrate recovery, a man made burden of works/steps is not of The Lord, nowhere in The Bible does Jesus teach such a thing. Their foundation supersedes the Holy Spirit and the teaching of Bible with psychology and works. The CR faction, via their works, will always fail to accomplish what The Holy Spirit alone achieves. Everything that CR tries to accomplish is found wanting compared to the natural byproduct of The Holy Spirit, “the fruit of the Spirit” is caused exclusively from His anointing, a gift from God and seen only in true believers in Jesus. Therefore, spiritual growth happens because of Gods will and power, according to His grace and purpose, not the CR works/steps, lest any man should boast. This is the difference between those trying to act like a Christian and pretending to be spiritual via “works and steps” or actually being a Christian and having His anointing displaying Gods “grace and power”. All cults use the exact same position regarding works with the same unfortunate results. Works bring bondage now and hell later. Jesus gives freedom now along with the Holy Spirit, power and eternal salvation. Warren’s CR program views the 12 Steps as generally compatible with Scripture yet seeks out verses that appear to biblically reinforce each step. In doing so, however, scriptural interpretations are forced upon concepts that either have no direct relationship to the Bible or that pervert the true interpretation of the scripture intended to support the particular step. CR’s attempt to use some of “the Sermon on the Mount” known as the Beatitudes as biblical principles for overcoming habitual sins, for example, is a serious distortion of the Word of God. Search as you may, you’ll find no commentaries that even hint at such a use of the Beatitudes. Why? Simply because the Beatitudes all have to do with seeking the Kingdom of God and nothing to do with solving an individual’s so-called addictions.

  6. However; seldom in the larger meeting before worship most of the time, the leader always says, ” Hi, I am Jane Doe and I suffer from (whatever) and I am a believer in Jesus Christ. If you’re a leader and you yet are not recovered; I think there is something really wrong. Why confess negativeism? Then, the worship; finally, the small groups; there, the same negativeism. Sometimes granted; there are grand testimonies. But, shouldn’t someone be professing victory; so we can have ethusiasm?
    Someone isn’t really surrending; I guess.

  7. “I suffer from/I struggle with_____” =
    A public manifestation of self-abasement and a confession based upon false-humility that is entrenched in superciliousness and pride for the purpose of displaying adherence towards a “recovery” perspective of denial and to promote the teachings of the 12 steps.

    This stated “profession” is clearly the antitheses to one who is led by the Holy Spirit and belongs to Christ Jesus:
    Galatians 5:22-24 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

    Personally, I suggest trusting Jesus with everything and go to Him directly, unencumbered by any man-made religious approaches: programs; steps; principles; guidelines; methods; techniques; factions; systems; philosophies; platforms; doctrines; psychologies; etc.

    Below is writing from Paul. He was given care and compassion, desperately wanting those who follow Jesus know Him better.
    Make no mistake, so do I:

    Eph 1:17-23 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe…

    Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ with love and great respect!

    Brian D. Kercheval

  8. I really belive that all things happen for a reason and that the only one that knows what that reason is, is Jesus Christ. As for myself i am thankful to have been introduced to Celebrate Recovery by some very caring christians. I had reached the bottom of of my addictions. I am new to this kind of enviroment of recovery. I have tied NA & AA . Did not like the some of the language and the constant talk of the drugs and or alcohol that every body used, not to offend anybody these programs work for a lot of people but not for me. I am a christian and a true believer in Jesus Christ and Celebrate Recovery is a refreshing change. I enjoy the fellowship with other christians that share the the same goal, living a life that is full and filled by the Holly Spirit

  9. Please people of God. Before you join C.R.’s “hurts, habits, and hang ups” [middle man] made group that declares in its syncretizing Scripture alteration: We Christians are such a needy lot we must have more than mere Grace alone, by Faith alone, in Jesus alone! Check out C.R.,Test the spirits, 1 John 4:1 ( see AA founder Bill Wilson’s deep plunge into spiritism / Rick Warren’s expose, “Church of Tares” on U Tube / Compare Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mt.” wedded to AA 12 Steps!

  10. Hi my name is Gina Archuleta I am in at Fort Lyons program in Las Animas Colorado I am trying to start a Celabrate recovery meeting here and was wondering if you can tell me how I can invest in the literature for the meeting. Please

  11. To all those who want to be negative about Celebrate Recovery; I am a greatful believer in Jesus Christ , I suffer from fear, anxiety, smoking, harmful eating habits, anger and depression; I have victory over chemical dependencyand my name is Ally. CR is a Christian based support group for ” hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Before putting down this wonderful group, try attending for a couple months. You will find that the intentions are to help people over come whatever problems they have, not on their own or by other members, but through the only Higher Power, Jesus Christ. CR gives people a chance to learn who they are in Christ. It helps people that have had their lives torn down learn that they are deserving of God’s love matter what they have done. I have seen how people have changed because of CR. People that didn’t even know who God is, or who Jesus is. They have spent their lives in depression using what ever means they had to get through the day on their own. Now they know our Father, our Lord, our Savior!!! So don’t act like you know what CR is just because you READ the material or went to one meeting. This is a Fellowship that allows people to come out and admit that they have a hurt, habit, or hang-up so they can open their heart to Christ and start to heal. !!!!!

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