Thursday, April 25, 2024

Why people get stuck in their faith

It was five or six years ago that I attended a large church conference in another part of the nation. I attended a workshop by Pastor "Hess" Hester of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Tulsa, Okla.

Southern Hills is a large church by anyone’s standards in the U.S. True, size is not necessarily correlated to the quality of a church or its leadership. It is true in this case in my humble opinion. It is a solid church and has good leadership.

Pastor Hess was amazedly candid regarding the congregation where he is the lead shepherd/pastor. He said most of his congregation was stuck. They weren’t growing and they weren’t maturing as a general condition. He was captivated by one small subgroup in this church of several thousand. These people were growing and maturing. Character change was sometimes dramatic. Those depressed were hopeful. Those struggling with anger were becoming gracious and thoughtful. Those who were critical and judgmental were becoming gracious and full of kind words.

He said he had to figure this out. What was going on? What he found was very surprising to him. They all attended Celebrate Recovery hosted by Southern Hills. He knew that many of these people did not struggle with a classic addiction. What were they finding there? He decided to attend himself.

What he found was a community of believers walking in their brokenness really loving each other and allowing Jesus to heal them of addictions. He found there are a lot more addictions than drugs and alcohol. One of the biggest addictions is "self." (I recommend every Christian read Chapter 8 of C.S. Lewis’ "Mere Christianity" to grasp this more clearly.) People were dealing with their character flaws and weaknesses in a constructive manner … and really growing as people.

Celebrate Recovery was nothing more than a system and framework for Christian discipleship. There wasn’t anything new. The practices were actually quite ancient but something modern churches have neglected to their detriment.

I was tasked with starting a recovery program in my church of North Summit. It was rather ironic because I didn’t like drunks. (If you hear my testimony, you will know why.) I attend Tuesday nights at 6:15 p.m. at Parkside Church with whom North Summit partners to host CR when I can. I am also responsible for hosting a congregation prayer meeting at North Summit that evening, so I don’t always get there. There are other CR meetings in Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry. You can use the internet to get which days and locations. We all use the same time to make it less confusing for people.

I think you will discover what Pastor Hess discovered and what I discovered. Check it out and then keep coming back. Yes, it is a challenge to come especially the first time but you will be glad you did if you stay with it through all the steps.

Bud McConnaughey serves on the staff of North Summit Church, 201 N. Division, Sandpoint.