I've just begun reading a new book I've recently purchased entitled, "Jesus and Addiction". It's subtitled, "A Prescription to Transform the Dysfunctional Church and Recover Authentic Christianity". The author is Don Williams, pastor of Vinyard Christian Fellowship of the Coast in LaJolla, California. A statement on the back cover hooked me, "Willams concludes with a bold, clear-cut model of what a Church in recovery, a Church that could be ours, can look like". I'm intrigued. I am attempting to pastor a "recovery church". Williams seems to infer that what we really need is a "church in recovery". hmmm......
Here are a few quotes from the introduction...see if you can relate:
"No wonder I have been vulnerable to burnout and workaholism. My heart has cried out, 'If I perform for you, if I gain your approval, then I will fill the emptiness inside and be able to love myself.' But, humanly, my efforts are never enough. Only giving myself up to God's love is enough. But I've tried everything else rather than make this ultimate surrender" (p5). Bingo! This guy has lived my life and thought my thoughts!
"My dad's absence, my mom's denial of negative thoughts and emotions, and my search for complete value through meeting the needs of others created a sense of being lost to my own needs and emotions. This all resulted in an inner loneliness--what addiction expert John Bradshaw calls 'the hole in the soul.' This was a perfect setup that led me to become a servant of the Church and, conversely, to be abused by the Church I served. I became addicted to its life and ministry" (p5-6). Addicted to the church! Exactly! That's the reason why I felt such loss when I was separated from my church for some three months. I went through withdrawal because I was addicted to the church. I needed to be needed!
Listen to this next statement, "Through the wrenching experience of a church split, the groundwork had been laid for me to admit my inadequacies and let people into my life in a new way. As I tried painfully to acknowledge my needs to others, I received love and care in return. With this experience came a new realization: I must be worth something because these people genuinely want to serve me and invest in my life. They see something in me that is worthwhile, even when I don't. Rather than running from my needs, they respond to my needs" (p7). This has been my experience as well. I am learning to experience the love and acceptance of God through my church. Before, I always thought that I had to have some level of performance in order to be accepted. I am now experiencing love and acceptance through my church because these people love me for who I am--not who they want me to be.
Good stuff, Pastor Don Williams. I can't wait to read the rest of the book.