The Bible clearly states “all have sinned.” It is my nature to sin, and it is yours too. None of us is untainted. Because of sin, we’ve all hurt ourselves, we’ve all hurt other people, and others have hurt us. This means each of us need repentance and recovery in order to live our lives the way God intended.

You’ve undoubtedly heard the expression that “time heals all wounds.” Unfortunately, it isn’t true. As a pastor I frequently talk with people who are still carrying hurts from 30 or 40 years ago. The truth is – time often makes things worse. Wounds that are left untended fester and spread infection throughout your entire body. Time only extends the pain if the problem isn’t dealt with.

What we need is a biblical and balanced program to help people overcome their hurts, habits and hang-ups.Celebrate Recovery is that program. Based on the actual words of Jesus rather than psychological theory, our recovery program is unique, and more effective in helping people change than anything else I’ve seen or heard of. Over the years I’ve witnessed how the Holy Spirit has used this program to transform literally thousands of lives at Saddleback Church and help people grow toward full Christlike maturity.

Most people are familiar with the classic 12 step program of A.A. and other groups. While undoubtedly many lives have been helped through the twelve steps, I’ve 

always been uncomfortable with that program’s vagueness about the nature of God, the saving power of Jesus Christ, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. So I began an intense study of the Scriptures to discover what God had to say about “recovery.” To my amazement, I found the principles of recovery, and even their logical order, given by Christ in his most famous message, the Sermon on the Mount.

My study resulted in a ten-week series of messages called “The Road to Recovery.” During that series, my Associate Pastor John Baker developed the workbooks, which became the heart of our Celebrate Recovery program. I believe that this program is unlike any recovery program you may have seen. There are seven features that make it unique:

  1. This recovery program is based on God’s Word, the Bible. When Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount, he began by stating “Eight Ways to Be Happy.” Today we call them the Beatitudes. From a conventional viewpoint, most of these statements didn’t make sense. They sounded like contradictions. But when you fully understand what Jesus is saying, you’ll realize that these eight principles are God’s road to recovery, wholeness, growth, and spiritual maturity.

  2. This recovery program is forward-looking. Rather than wallowing in the past, or dredging up and rehearsing painful memories over and over, Celebrate Recovery focuses on the future. Regardless of what has already happened, the solution is to start making wise choices now and depend on Christ’s power to help me make those changes.

  3. This recovery program emphasizes personal responsibility. Instead of playing the “accuse and excuse” game of victimization, this program helps people face up to their own poor choices and deal with what they can do something about. We cannot control all that happens to us. But we can control how we respond to everything. That is a secret of happiness. When we stop wasting time fixing the blame, we have more energy to fix the problem. When you stop hiding your own faults and stop hurling accusations at others, then the healing power of Christ can begin working in your mind, will, and emotions.

  4. This recovery program emphasized spiritual commitment to Jesus Christ. The 3rd principle calls for people to make a total surrender of their lives to Christ. Lasting recovery cannot happen without this step. Everybody needs Jesus. Celebrate Recovery is thoroughly evangelistic in nature. In fact, the first time I took our entire church through this program over 500 people prayed to receive Christ on a single weekend. It was an amazing spiritual harvest. And during the ten week series that I preached to kick-off this program, our attendance grew by over 1,500 people! Don’t be surprised if this program becomes the most effective outreach ministry in your church. Today, nearly 73% of the people who’ve been through Celebrate Recovery have come from outside our church. Eighty-five percent of the people who've gone through the program are now active members of Saddleback Church, and an amazing 42% are now using their gifts and talents serving the Lord in some capacity in our church. Changed lives always attract others who want to be changed.

  5. This recovery program utilizes the biblical truth that we need each other in order to grow spiritually and emotionally. It is built around small group interaction and the fellowship of a caring community. There are many therapies, growth programs, and counselors today that are built around one-on-one interaction. But Celebrate Recovery is built on the New Testament principle that we don’t get well by ourselves. We need each other. Fellowship and accountability are two important components of spiritual growth. If your church is interested in starting small groups, this is a great way to get started.

  6. This recovery program addresses all types of habits, hurts and hang-ups. Some recovery programs deal only with alcohol or drugs or another single problem. But Celebrate Recovery is a “large umbrella” program under which a limitless number of issues can be dealt with. At Saddleback Church, only one out of three who attend Celebrate Recovery are dealing with alcohol or drugs. We have dozens of other specialized groups too.

  7. Finally, this recovery program produces lay ministers! Because Celebrate Recovery is biblical and church-based, it produces a continuous stream of people moving into ministry after they’ve found recovery in Christ. Eighty-five percent of the people who’ve gone through the program are now active members of Saddleback Church, and an amazing 42% are now using their gifts and talents serving the Lord in some capacity in our church.

In closing, let me say that the size of your church is no barrier to beginning a Celebrate Recovery ministry. You can start it with just a small group of people and watch it grow by word-of-mouth. Your won’t be able to keep it a secret for long! You are going to see lives changed in dramatic ways.

You are going to see hopeless marriages restored and people set free from all kinds of sinful habits, hang-ups, and hurts as they allow Jesus to be Lord in every area of their lives. To God be the glory! We’ll be praying for you.

Celebrate Recovery Videos

To buy your Celebrate Recovery Gear and Resources visit Saddleback Resources

The Landing

The Landing, for students is an ongoing 52-week program – based on the beatitudes where Jesus laid out principles for happiness in the Sermon on the Mount – The Landing is for teenagers who are struggling to live their lives in a healthy, God-honoring way. The Landing is a safe, healing place where teenagers can live a freer, healthier, and more God-centered life.

The Landing can help foster hope, truth and joy as teenagers embark on an exciting year-long journey of engaging videos, meaningful experiences, vibrant worship, and great conversation as they develop true friendships with other teens. The Landing breaks the cycles of dysfunction, giving our students the tools to face life’s hurts, hang-ups and habits in an new and healthy effective way.

 

Celebration Place is a 52-week program that mirrors the Celebrate Recovery one-year, large group teaching schedule and curriculum plan. This means that while adults explore topics that bring healing and wholeness, their kids are discovering the same truths in age-appropriate ways!

Celebration Place is the uplifting, hope-filled, children's companion to Celebrate Recovery. In this kit, you'll find lessons that give children...

Truths that help them avoid cycles of hurts, hang-ups, and habits.

Ways to draw close to Jesus during challenging times.

Language and experiences to understand whats happening in their homes.

Friendships with other children whose parents are taking the hard step of resolving their pain and moving forward in life.

Designed for 5 to 13 year-olds, Celebration Place gives you everything you need to lead kids in making Jesus the foundation of their lives; break cycles of dysfunction; and join their parents in forgiveness and healing.

Celebrate Recovery® Inside is the prison and jail extention of the Celebrate Recovery® Ministry, a program founded by John and Cheryl Baker of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, California, that encourages fellowship and celebrates Christ’s healing power in the lives of people as they work their way along the road to recovery. Lives are changed as experiences, strengths, and hopes are shared with one another. In addition, individuals become willing to accept God’s grace and forgiveness in solving life’s problems.

Many anonymous programs provide help for a single issue; alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, overeating, etc. Celebrate Recovery® and CR Inside deals with the whole person, every kind of issue that keeps people from being who God created them to be. One may have an alcohol and drug addiction as well as struggle with sexual addiction, difficulty in overcoming a history of physical or sexual abuse, or anger and co-dependency issues, all at the same time.

By working though the principles, participants grow spiritually, and are freed from their hurts, hang-ups, and addictive habits. This freedom creates peace, serenity, joy, and most importantly, a stronger personal relationship with others and the personal, loving and forgiving Higher Power, Jesus Christ.

Since 1991 Celebrate Recovery® has grown from one group at Saddleback Church to thousands of churches world-wide. In 1998 a faith-based prison program in New Mexico, Crossings, began to use Celebrate Recovery® at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Las Cruces and quickly grew to five prisons. Since then many prisons and jails in the United States and other countries use CR.

Celebrate Recovery® Inside provides a natural transition back to the community from the institution since there are churches that have Celebrate Recovery in many communities. Additionally, there is an opportunity for the family of the incarcerated person to receive help as they become involved in Celebrate Recovery® at the local level during their loved one’s incarceration.

South Central Region

North Central Region

Northeast Region

Southeast Region

 

West Region

Mountain Region

5 Ways to Use Life’s Healing Choices In Your Celebrate Recovery®

OUTREACH TOOL

Just as the rest of the Celebrate Recovery curriculum, Life’s Healing Choices should be available on your resource table for purchase by your Celebrate Recovery participants. This will provide an outreach opportunity to purchase the book and give it to someone they want to invite to Celebrate Recovery. This is a great tool to reach more people for Christ, as well as, inform them about Celebrate Recovery.

OVERVIEW FOR NEWCOMERS

When someone new comes into the program, they can be completely overwhelmed. By reading Life’s Healing Choices they can get a quick, solid understanding of the Eight Principles and what Celebrate Recovery is all about. This is not to be a replacement for working the program, but it can serve as a great way to help the newcomer get started.

DEEPEN ALL PARTICIPANTS’ UNDERSTANDING OF THE 8 PRINCIPLES

It doesn’t matter where someone is in their Celebrate Recovery journey, if they are newcomers or have been attending for years; Life’s Healing Choices presents the 8 Principles / 8 Choices in fresh new ways. We can all afford to learn more about these biblically-based principles. Also, the 16 testimonies contained within are a great source of encouragement to those in the program.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCE FOR STEP STUDIES

Using Life’s Healing Choices in Step Studies as devotional reading and as outside assignments allows participants a chance to dig deeper into the Principles and find more healing through the Bible verses and references.

TEACHING THE CELEBRATE RECOVERY LESSONS

Those who teach the lessons from the Celebrate Recovery Leader’s Guide will find a wealth of knowledge in Life’s Healing Choices. Celebrate Recovery teachers will find material in the book not covered anywhere else. There are insights found in Life’s Healing Choices that will provide teachers with new illustrations and teaching opportunities

 


The Bible clearly states “all have sinned.” It is my nature to sin, and it is yours too. None of us is untainted. Because of sin, we’ve all hurt ourselves, we’ve all hurt other people, and others have hurt us. This means each of us need repentance and recovery in order to live our lives the way God intended.

You’ve undoubtedly heard the expression that “time heals all wounds.” Unfortunately, it isn’t true. As a pastor I frequently talk with people who are still carrying hurts from 30 or 40 years ago. The truth is – time often makes things worse. Wounds that are left untended fester and spread infection throughout your entire body. Time only extends the pain if the problem isn’t dealt with.

What we need is a biblical and balanced program to help people overcome their hurts, habits and hang-ups.Celebrate Recovery is that program. Based on the actual words of Jesus rather than psychological theory, our recovery program is unique, and more effective in helping people change than anything else I’ve seen or heard of. Over the years I’ve witnessed how the Holy Spirit has used this program to transform literally thousands of lives at Saddleback Church and help people grow toward full Christlike maturity.

Most people are familiar with the classic 12 step program of A.A. and other groups. While undoubtedly many lives have been helped through the twelve steps, I’ve 

always been uncomfortable with that program’s vagueness about the nature of God, the saving power of Jesus Christ, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. So I began an intense study of the Scriptures to discover what God had to say about “recovery.” To my amazement, I found the principles of recovery, and even their logical order, given by Christ in his most famous message, the Sermon on the Mount.

My study resulted in a ten-week series of messages called “The Road to Recovery.” During that series, my Associate Pastor John Baker developed the workbooks, which became the heart of our Celebrate Recovery program. I believe that this program is unlike any recovery program you may have seen. There are seven features that make it unique:

  1. This recovery program is based on God’s Word, the Bible. When Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount, he began by stating “Eight Ways to Be Happy.” Today we call them the Beatitudes. From a conventional viewpoint, most of these statements didn’t make sense. They sounded like contradictions. But when you fully understand what Jesus is saying, you’ll realize that these eight principles are God’s road to recovery, wholeness, growth, and spiritual maturity.

  2. This recovery program is forward-looking. Rather than wallowing in the past, or dredging up and rehearsing painful memories over and over, Celebrate Recovery focuses on the future. Regardless of what has already happened, the solution is to start making wise choices now and depend on Christ’s power to help me make those changes.

  3. This recovery program emphasizes personal responsibility. Instead of playing the “accuse and excuse” game of victimization, this program helps people face up to their own poor choices and deal with what they can do something about. We cannot control all that happens to us. But we can control how we respond to everything. That is a secret of happiness. When we stop wasting time fixing the blame, we have more energy to fix the problem. When you stop hiding your own faults and stop hurling accusations at others, then the healing power of Christ can begin working in your mind, will, and emotions.

  4. This recovery program emphasized spiritual commitment to Jesus Christ. The 3rd principle calls for people to make a total surrender of their lives to Christ. Lasting recovery cannot happen without this step. Everybody needs Jesus. Celebrate Recovery is thoroughly evangelistic in nature. In fact, the first time I took our entire church through this program over 500 people prayed to receive Christ on a single weekend. It was an amazing spiritual harvest. And during the ten week series that I preached to kick-off this program, our attendance grew by over 1,500 people! Don’t be surprised if this program becomes the most effective outreach ministry in your church. Today, nearly 73% of the people who’ve been through Celebrate Recovery have come from outside our church. Changed lives always attract others who want to be changed.

  5. This recovery program utilizes the biblical truth that we need each other in order to grow spiritually and emotionally. It is built around small group interaction and the fellowship of a caring community. There are many therapies, growth programs, and counselors today that are built around one-on-one interaction. But Celebrate Recovery is built on the New Testament principle that we don’t get well by ourselves. We need each other. Fellowship and accountability are two important components of spiritual growth. If your church is interested in starting small groups, this is a great way to get started.

  6. This recovery program addresses all types of habits, hurts and hang-ups. Some recovery programs deal only with alcohol or drugs or another single problem. But Celebrate Recovery is a “large umbrella” program under which a limitless number of issues can be dealt with. At Saddleback Church, only one out of three who attend Celebrate Recovery are dealing with alcohol or drugs. We have dozens of other specialized groups too.

  7. Finally, this recovery program produces lay ministers! Because Celebrate Recovery is biblical and church-based, it produces a continuous stream of people moving into ministry after they’ve found recovery in Christ. Eighty-five percent of the people who’ve gone through the program are now active members of Saddleback Church, and an amazing 42% are now using their gifts and talents serving the Lord in some capacity in our church.

 

In closing, let me say that the size of your church is no barrier to beginning a Celebrate Recovery ministry. You can start it with just a small group of people and watch it grow by word-of-mouth. Your won’t be able to keep it a secret for long! You are going to see lives changed in dramatic ways.

You are going to see hopeless marriages restored and people set free from all kinds of sinful habits, hang-ups, and hurts as they allow Jesus to be Lord in every area of their lives. To God be the glory! We’ll be praying for you.

John Baker is the founder of Celebrate Recovery, a ministry born out of the heart of Saddleback Church.  Over the last twenty-six years, nearly 21,000 individuals have gone through this Christ-centered recovery program at Saddleback Church.  The Celebrate Recovery program is now being used in thousands of churches nationwide.  Over 5 million individuals have completed the program.

John began serving as a lay pastor at Saddleback in 1991.  The next year, he was asked to join the Saddleback Church staff as the Director of Small Groups and Recovery.  In 1995, his responsibilities increased as he became the Pastor of Membership.  In 2001, Rick Warren asked John to become the pastor of Celebrate Recovery. Today, John is, not only an ordained Elder of Saddleback Church, he is also a nationally known speaker and the author of The Celebrate Recovery curriculum, the Life’s Healing Choices curriculum, the General Editor of the Celebrate Recovery Bible, Celebration Place and the student program, The Landing. In addition, his newest books, Your First Step to Celebrate Recovery and the Celebrate Recovery Devotional, which he co-authored, have just been released.

John has been married to his wife, Cheryl, for 48 years. John and Cheryl have served together in Celebrate Recovery since the beginning. They have two adult children and five beautiful grandchildren.