How to Start a CR Group in Your Community

I'm on the road to recoveryCelebrate Recovery or “CR” is essentially a deep study of the eight Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) — within the framework of, and with the biblical basis for 12-step recovery groups. Anyone who’s a member of a dysfunctional family (and we all are) belong in CR. Not just drunks and addicts. CR deals with healing “Hurts, Habits and Hangups.” Any compulsive, sinful character defect. Co-dependency. All of this stuff. Read about how CR works and came to be here.

CR operates as a stand-alone ministry. CR and it’s materials, methods and programs originate from and are solely obtained through Saddleback Church in California and it’s National CR Leadership.  Start here:

Churches that claim to have their own CR meeting in isolation, aren’t in compliance with CR Leadership, really. Though this happens in some cases. It’s tolerated out of respect for people who just want to meet and study 12 steps and the CR Principles. As a matter of best practice — normally “Sponsors” from several churches are required. This makes CR an institution of the community and insures against CR becoming the pet program of any one body of believers.  It also helps assure that the meeting sticks to the DNA that CR is intended to exhibit.  Why is this important?

Here’s one good reason: CR serves as a Transitional Support fraternity for Inmates released from Prison.  If they attended and relied on CRI (Celebrate Recovery Inside) they are likely to seek a meeting once “outside the gate.”  Nobody needs familiar structure more than newly released prisoners.  But another reason is: if a CR person is traveling and needs to find a meeting (suffering from triggers) — if they attend one in Chicago, it will operate much like the one at home.

To become a CR Meeting Leader requires having attended CR at least for a while and preferably some kind of CRML Training… CRML’s make a commitment to participate at the Area leadership meetings, and perhaps attend the bigger conferences. CR Meeting Leaders are themselves beneficiaries of the CR programs, practitioners of CR Principles in their lives.

The CR Meeting itself should probably rotate from facility to facility, usually among churches, to different venue perhaps on a monthly basis. This doesn’t need to happen but it spreads out the “wear and tear.” Or as I like to say the “Worry and the Tears.” But also it often makes it easier for folks to find the meeting and get there.  Sometimes if the meeting is going to be at “my church” people who need to attend are more likely to give it a try.

There are some things that need to be put in place first, before “starting” a CR Meeting. Sponsors need to be appointed by Pastors and these folks should meet for “90 days of prayer.” This process looks like this:

Sponsors come from two or three churches. They are mature, stable married couples that meet the 1 Timothy definition of “Deacons and Elders.” They are not always actually Deacons or Elders. They don’t have to be old. 30’s is good.

Sponsors, prior to sponsoring a new meeting typically: 
Agree to meet weekly to study through “Life’s Healing Choices
Agree to making prayers and intercession during this time regarding starting a CR meeting.
Agree to groom lay people qualified to be trained as leaders… again, stable married couples.
Agree to understand and recommend CR as a resource people in their congregations in need of spiritual healing.

At the end of three months this group decides if they will commit to sponsoring a meeting.

Finding committed believers willing to invest in this is why starting a meeting is hard. And it should be. This is a ministry. It needs to be long-lived and be focused on service to many hurting, lost sheep of Christ who, I’m ashamed to admit — most “normal” Church Congregants wouldn’t want to be sitting next to on Sundays.

Sponsors become the interface between the CR Groups and their respective churches. Sponsors report to their Pastors. Sponsors are stable members in their respective Churches.

I like to differentiate CR this way …

Pastors preach “Through the Bible” from the Pulpit.
Lay Pastors teach “Topically” on scriptural subjects and church doctrine in Sunday School and Small Groups.
CR, Administered by a Leader — is a group study in the “Application” of scriptural principles to personal healing in spiritual matters.

The propellant behind any good CR meeting is it’s Sponsors — even though they perhaps don’t regularly attend the CR Group Meeting.

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