Research indicates more than 200 million people the world over intractably misuse alcohol, drugs, gambling, tobacco, and other activities despite the ruinous consequences they cause personally and for the people surrounding them.
Bible Gateway interviewed John Raymond, vice president and publisher for HarperChristian Resources, about the NIV Celebrate Recovery Study Bible (Zondervan, 2021) and the Celebrate Recovery Curriculum Kit 30th anniversary edition (Zondervan, 2021).
What is Celebrate Recovery and how does it differ from other similar programs?
John Raymond: Celebrate Recovery is a program for implementing a Christ-centered recovery ministry in the church. There’s a way the church can help the wounded move beyond their hurts, habits, and hang-ups to experience the forgiveness of Christ. Celebrate Recovery helps the church fulfill its role as Christ’s healing agent. Since 1991, over 5 million people have participated in the Celebrate Recovery programs offered at more than 35,000 churches, prisons, and rescue missions in 21 different languages.
Founded by John and Cheryl Baker and inspired by Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, Celebrate Recovery offers a 12-step program based on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) to help people establish positive patterns in their lives. Rather than setting up an isolated recovery community, this powerful program helps participants and their churches come together and discover new levels of care, acceptance, trust, and grace.
How rampant is the need for Celebrate Recovery?
John Raymond: With the continued rise of a variety of damaging addictions in our world today–from alcoholism to sexual addiction–the need for Celebrate Recovery and its Christ-centered approach to recovery is desperately needed to help people within the church as well as outside the church deal with their struggles with hurt, pain, and addiction of any kind. Celebrate Recovery is a safe place to find community and freedom from the issues that are controlling our life.
How and when did Celebrate Recovery begin?
John Raymond: According to the CelebrateRecovery.com website, Celebrate Recovery (@celebraterecoveryofficial) started in 1991 at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. At that time, the church was meeting at a high school gymnasium. John Baker wrote pastor Rick Warren the “now-famous, concise, 13-page, single-spaced” letter outlining the vision God had given John for Celebrate Recovery. After reading John’s letter, pastor Rick said, “Great, John—go do it!”
The first night 43 people attended, and Celebrate Recovery was born. Beginning with only four Open Share Groups—Men’s and Women’s Chemical Dependency and Men’s and Women’s Codependency—the ministry has grown to over 14 groups today. Over 27,000 people have gone through the program at Saddleback Church. Many of them are now serving in Celebrate Recovery and the church. Celebrate Recovery is the number one outreach ministry at Saddleback Church, with over 70% of its members now coming from outside the church.
Describe the NIV Celebrate Recovery Study Bible and the Celebrate Recovery Curriculum Kit.
John Raymond: The NIV Celebrate Recovery Study Bible is a powerful and positive ally for people transitioning to a new start in their lives. The study notes in it are based on 8 recovery principles found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and on the underlying Christ-centered 12 steps of the proven Celebrate Recovery program. It’s typeset in Zondervan’s exclusive Comfort Print® typeface and the text is the New International Version (NIV) translation. Over 110 lessons throughout the Bible unpack the 8 recovery principles in practical terms and recovery stories offer encouragement and hope. It includes 30 days of recovery-related readings and over 50 full-page biblical character studies tied to stories from people who’ve found peace and help with their own struggles.
The corresponding 30th anniversary Celebrate Recovery Curriculum Kit contains a guide for small group leaders and comprehensive material that teaches the biblical lessons of RECOVERY:
- Realize I’m not God. I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable. “Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor” (Matthew 5:3).
- Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to him, and that he has the power to help me recover. “Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
- Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control. “Happy are the meek” (Matthew 5:5).
- Openly examine and confess my faults to God, to myself, and to someone I trust. “Happy are the pure in heart” (Matthew 5:8).
- Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects. “Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires” (Matthew 5:6).
- Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others. “Happy are the merciful” (Matthew 5:7). “Happy are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9).
- Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination. Bible reading and prayer in order to know God and his will for my life and to gain the power to follow his will.
- Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and by my words. “Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires” (Matthew 5:10).
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
John Raymond: One of my favorite passages is 1 John 3:1 – “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”
I love this verse because it clearly indicates God not only loves us, but that we’re called his children. It’s affirming to know that our identity is as a child of God and this is what defines us more than anything else. This is who we are as John clearly emphasizes in this verse.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App and Bible Audio App?
John Raymond: Bible Gateway is an incredible website that allows anyone to search for any verse in the Bible, and though I prefer the NIV, it also allows me to see whatever translation I would like to read Bible verses in.
Sign up for our Verse of the Day to receive a daily Bible verse in four well-known translations.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
John Raymond: Zondervan is privileged and excited to have partnered with Celebrate Recovery since 1998 to publish curriculum resources, devotionals, and Bibles that can be used to help people in churches, prisons, and missions all over the world. As Celebrate Recovery celebrates its 30th anniversary and remembers the incredible contribution that pastor John Baker made to the ministry, we look forward to working with Johnny Baker as he leads the Celebrate Recovery ministry into its next season of helping to change so many people’s lives around the world.
Bio: John Raymond is vice president and publisher for HarperChristian Resources which includes video studies, Bible studies, small group resources, and ministry programs. He has worked at HarperCollins Christian Publishing for 26 years. Previously he served as the executive pastor at Bella Vista Church in Rockford, MI. He currently lives in Grand Haven, MI with his wife Tammy and they enjoy boating on Lake Michigan.
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