Finding a Recovery-Friendly Church


To maintain a growing program of personal recovery, having a church home that is a comfortable place where we can share our walk of faith with other believers is a necessity. Sadly, not every church is "recovery friendly". Sandy Wilson shares some valuable insights in her book, Released from Shame.

Shame-full Churches

  • Rooted in shame-based religionism: keeping human-made rules in order to be "right.

Grace-full Churches

  • Rooted in grace-based relationship; trusting in Christ's death and resurrection in order to be "right."

  • God is experienced as a demanding Shepherd who drives His sheep.
  • God is experienced as an understanding Shepherd who leads His sheep.
  • I am expected to be totally (or almost totally) transformed the moment I trust Christ 
  • I am expected to keep on being transformed by having my mind renewed as long as I live.
  • Since I should be totally transformed (perfect) I am different-and-less-than Christian because I am not perfect 
  • Since I am in the lifelong process of being transformed to be like Jesus, my imperfections don't surprise me, church members or God.
  • Members with obvious problems are an embarrassment to the church. 
  • Members with obvious problems are expected since the past and present effects of sin in Christians' lives can cause serious problems.
  • Since real Christians have no serious problems, no provisions have been made to help. 
  • There are programs in place to provide appropriate help.
  • Small-group Bible studies are dangerous places because someone might get close enough to see behind my mask of perfection and know I have problems
  • Small-group Bible studies are safe places to practice being maskless and be with others who do the same. It's great to go where I don't have to hide my problems.
  • Emphasis is on looking religious by wearing the right clothes and carrying the right translation of the Bible.
  • Emphasis is on developing a deeper relationship of love and trusting obedience to Jesus Christ.
  • Emphasis is on performance. 
  • Emphasis is on worshipping God.
  • Emphasis is on revealing and rebuking sinners.
  • Emphasis is on restoring repentant sinners.
  • Attendance at church activities is used as the main indicator of a person's true spirituality. 
  • Acknowledgement that true spirituality is reflected in total lifestyle and known only to God.