When Sr. Pastor Hess Hester asked me to contribute a blog this week for CPR, I first thought about a devotional type of writing, but then it dawned on me the topic of Sr. Pastor Support. I am an Associate Pastor and Pastor of Celebrate Recovery at Southern Hills Baptist Church Tulsa under the leadership of our Sr. Pastor Hess Hester.
One of the seven keys of Celebrate Recovery is Senior Pastor Support, and our Sr. Pastor exemplifies what that means. He has participated in and led CR twelve step studies, has given his CR testimony, attends our Celebrate Recovery frequently, arranges for CR testimonies on Sunday mornings, allows our CR to have a kiosk out in our lobby every Sunday morning plus promotion in our church publications and talked about from the pulpit. His recognition of his own need for recovery has communicated to our church body that it is “ok and acceptable” to be in recovery. I don’t know how many times I have heard him say that “Recovery” is just another word for “sanctification” or “spiritual growth” and that CR is one of the best discipleship tools in the church today. There is something else though that I think makes Sr. Pastor Support help Celebrate Recovery thrive in a church.
Recently, the pastoral staff went on a retreat to dream about the future of our church and discuss upcoming plans. It’s was so neat to hear our Children’s pastor, Youth pastor, Worship pastor, and Executive pastor all recognize the life-change and God’s blessing on our Celebrate Recovery. Our Sr. Pastor’s support has made it “ok and acceptable” for our staff to also support this ministry. Our Celebration Place is part of our church’s children’s ministry. Our Landing is part of our church’s student ministry. Our CR worship team is helped and supported by our church’s worship pastor. Our Executive Pastor this year came, and did leadership training just for our CR leaders. When a CR is supported like that – by not only the Sr. Pastor, but the rest of the pastoral staff – then the sky is the limit.
I used to be a State Rep for Celebrate Recovery, and had the privilege of attending many CRs in our state. Unfortunately, there often seemed to be distance between CR and the Church that supported it. Now, I am not saying that’s on the Sr. Pastor or staff. Many CR’s would be wise to ask “How can we better support our Sr. Pastor, staff, and church?” rather than asking “How come we are not getting more support by them?” All I know is that Sr. Pastor Support is crucial for CR to thrive, and that support is way more than on the Sr. Pastor. CR works better when all of the pastoral staff is aligned, united, and working together as a team so that CR is truly “ok and acceptable” for everyone and more people can be reached by this life-changing ministry.
Would you say that your CR is an integral part of the life of your church? Are there walls being built-up between the different ministries of your church or are the walls being destroyed and bridges built instead? How can you be a part of bringing more alignment between CR and the other signature ministries of your church? What does participating in CR look like for you and how can your actions communicate to your staff and congregants that CR is one of the greatest spiritual growth tools in the church?
Josh Lawrence, Celebrate Recovery Pastor
Southern Hills Baptist Church