Through our faith-based recovery programs, we work with many people who seek the help of a higher power in their journey to recovery. Some are actively attending church as they learn to manage their addiction. Others haven’t attended in years, and they’re scared to go back. If you’re in the second group, this blog is for you.
Why Church Matters
Many people today say that they’re spiritual, but they don’t like organized religion. However, if you have been away from church for long, you may be missing many valuable aspects of organized religion in your life. These may include:
The opportunity to participate in sacred ordinances. Ordinances vary from church to church, but a common one is partaking of the sacrament or communion. Ordinances such as this are more than just rote rituals; they are opportunities to reflect and recommit to God. They are central to building a close relationship with Him.
Inspiration and motivation to live the gospel. Ever been to church and heard the speaker say exactly what you needed to hear? When you worship with an earnest heart, the Lord can communicate His will to you.
Church can provide a heavy dose of inspired instruction and motivation to live it. As you work to overcome your addiction, the inspired nudges from church can be more important than ever.
The opportunity to serve others. In the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:1, Paul says, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”
Charity involves loving and serving others. It is a way to put your faith in action. You could know every scripture by heart, but if you aren’t actively helping others, you won’t be a very useful instrument in the Lord’s hands.
Church attendance can open up consistent service opportunities. These will come by virtue of just being part of a congregation, as you meet, greet, befriend, love, and forgive other fellow members. Opportunities can also come through organized fellowshipping opportunities, customized callings to serve fellow members, service projects, and mission work.
A support system. A congregation can be an extended family, offering love and help when you need it most.
7 Tips for Returning to Church While Recovering From Addiction
You may be thinking that you would like to return to church, but you’re nervous. What if people judge you because of your addiction? What if you’ve been gone so long that you can’t even remember the basics? What if you don’t want too much attention or pressure as you test the waters? What if church just makes you feel inadequate?
All of these are valid concerns, and we can’t guarantee that things will go perfectly. However, we can share some tips for powering through some challenges so you can increase your faith through church attendance.
Remember the “why.” Reflect on why you’re going back to church. Do you miss feeling close to God? Do you want a church family and the support of fellow believers? Do you need more encouragement to live a Christ-centered life? Make sure you’re not setting this goal for someone else; this is your life and your journey.
Once you have identified why you want to return, write it down and stick to your “why.” If you have a negative encounter with another member of the congregation or you simply don’t want to wake up for Sunday services, remember why you embarked on this journey in the first place. You can only achieve the goal if you keep it in your sights and work toward it.
Keep it between you and God. We hope that your congregation will be kind and welcoming when you return, but, most of all, we hope that you grow closer to God through your attendance. If you stay focused on God and the Savior, rather than on people, your relationship with the Lord will grow, regardless of how others choose to interact with you.
Know that you deserve to be here. As the adage goes, “Church is not a museum for saints, it’s a hospital for sinners.” Having an addiction doesn’t make you “less than.” It puts you on par with every person sitting on the pew, because we all sin and need the healing that the Lord can provide through participating in the ordinances of His church.
View your fellow parishioners with compassion. Religious leader Henry B. Eyring shared this advice: “When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time.”
If you’re focused on helping the people around you, you’ll be less worried about what they’re thinking of you. Extend your hand and introduce yourself. Give them a compliment. Sign up to help members in need.
The people around you may look perfect, but you’d be surprised by how many are carrying unseen burdens, just like you.
Communicate. Don’t expect your church leaders to read your mind. If you’re just here for services and don’t want to be contacted outside of church, let them know. If you’re petrified to attend, let them know. If you desire to share the story of your addiction recovery with a trusted church leader, dare to be vulnerable.
Your congregation will be much better equipped to help you in all the right ways if they understand more about who you are and what you need.
Attend consistently. “Time + shared experience = relationships.” The more you show up, the more shared experience you have. That will help you develop your relationship with the Lord and your fellow congregants.
Join a support group. If you have sought help for your addiction from a Christian-based treatment center, you know how important ongoing support is. Many churches have addiction recovery groups.
Ask your church leader what is offered. You can develop lasting relationships while receiving instruction and accountability for overcoming your addiction.