Christian Drug Rehab

What Happens at a Celebrate Recovery Meeting?

christiansdrugrehab-What-Happens-at-a-Celebrate-Recovery-Meeting-photo-of-three-women-praying-for-each-other Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered 12-step group, focused on using surrender to a higher power (Christ) as a means to rebuild your life. From the day new members enter and pick up their blue coin, they are asked to surrender to and celebrate God’s healing power. Celebrate Recovery is now utilized by over 5 million people, primarily implemented in churches, and offered in countries around the globe. Unlike similar 12-step programs, Celebrate Recovery or CR is popular with people struggling with a range of problems, behavioral disorders, and hang-ups, with some 2/3rds of participants struggling with something other than addiction. This is, in part, because CR works to normalize substance use disorders as a normal behavior disorder, and no different from any other behavior disorder (such as overeating, compulsive gambling, etc.), in line with modern science. But, if you’re considering going to a Celebrate Recovery meeting, it can be intimidating. Not only are CR meetings open to everyone, they ask everyone to participate, contribute, and do so in a nonjudgmental and supportive fashion. It can be intimidating at best to walk into a 12-step meeting focused on substance abuse and recovery, but CR can be more so. Understanding what happens at Celebrate Recovery meetings might help you to decide if it’s right for you, to prepare yourself to go, and to do more when you actually arrive.

What is Celebrate Recovery

Celebrate Recovery uses the 12-Steps from Alcoholics Anonymous alongside their own program, including 8 Recovery Principles and 4 Participant Guides to move individuals through a “Step Study”. This fully Christian-based 12-step program dates back to 1991, when, recovered alcoholic, Pastor John Baker chose to realize his dream of creating a new kind of recovery group. The first group sponsored just 45 members, but quickly grew and today is adopted by over 5,000 churches worldwide. But, rather than focusing on helping addicts, CR offers a diverse program designed to improve lives, help individuals get over bad behaviors and habits, and to change their mental attitude. Celebrate Recovery’s program is aimed at persons struggling with anything, including addiction, anger, codependency, eating disorders, relationship programs, trauma and abuse, gabling addictions, and other behavioral disorders. Celebrate Recovery does not offer therapy and should not be used as an alternative to therapy or treatment, but rather as a complementary self-help group.

Types of Celebrate Recovery Meetings

Celebrate Recovery meetings are normally held in churches, prisons, and rehab centers, usually on a once-per-week basis. In most cases, meetings are held on Friday, but organizations vary considerably, with others offering meetings throughout the week, meetings on multiple days, or even meetings on weekdays. This weekly schedule means that the same things happen every week, and anyone can adjust to the schedule and fit themselves into it.


Most CR meetings incorporate a schedule, where individuals can show up at any time to participate. There is no mandatory requirement to attend any specific meetings over others, although you may be offered recommendations and be asked to attend newcomer meetings. Childcare is typically available on a volunteer basis at most Celebrate Recovery meetings. christiansdrugrehab-What-Happens-at-a-Celebrate-Recovery-Meeting-photo-of-dinner-with-friendsDinner – Most Celebrate Recovery meetings start with a social dinner, in which people sit and eat together. Meals are prepared by volunteers or paid staff and are paid for by donation. Some churches may have a minimum mandatory donation for participation in dinner. Everyone is encouraged to talk, get to know each other, and network with each other during dinner. Romance and dating are not allowed between members. However, building friendships is highly recommended as a means to both improve your understanding of your peers and to build a team to hold you accountable to your goals. Mealtime is typically held between 6 and 7 PM. Newcomers 101 – Newcomers 101 meetings are available to all attendees during their first week of Celebrate Recovery. These meetings are intended as an introduction to the philosophy, to the history, and to research and materials. Most attendees will walk away with reading material, references, and a good idea of what to expect at meetings. If you’re wondering what happens at Celebrate Recovery meetings, attending a Newcomers 101 session is the best way to get firsthand experience without having to share anything or commit to anything. Most groups will have regular, scheduled Newcomers 101 meetings shortly after Large Group Meetings on Thursdays or Fridays. Some will have attendance small enough that they will have to schedule something specifically. Large Group Meeting – Large Group Meetings combine worship, the Recovery Principles, 12 Steps, and sometimes a live speaker offering a testimony. Depending on the church, large group meetings will either be led by a pastor, the CR facilitator, or a volunteer chosen for that session. Large Group Meetings do not allow cross-talking or sharing. Instead, one or a few people stand and speak, to be listened to. Here, they teach, preach, and read resources like the 12 Steps and 9 Recovery Principles or other materials aloud, share their own testimonials of recovery, and otherwise share to an audience. This material can be diverse but is typically aimed at a large audience. Children are welcome at large group meetings and can attend with their parents and guardians. Large Group Meetings typically take up an hour following dinner. Small Group Sessions – Small group sessions are smaller, more targeted sessions where the large worship group is broken up. In most cases, small group sessions are divided by gender but may be divided on other factors unique to the topic, theme, or wishes of the pastor or facilitator. Small Share groups offer the opportunity to share personal experiences, struggles, and problems. Here, most individuals are asked to spend 3-5 minutes sharing to give everyone time to share. Recovery Coins are handed out and updated during these meetings. Children are not welcome in Small Group Sessions, but free volunteer childcare is provided in most areas. Small Group Sessions also incorporate a number of rules, mostly relating to how and when you share.
  • Only share your own thoughts and feelings. Don’t discuss what others have shared or done.
  • Limit sharing to 3-5 minutes unless given permission to go further or there are only a few individuals in the group
  • No cross-talking, or talking while someone else is speaking. Dedicate your full attention to the speaker and respond to them directly.
  • Don’t attempt to solve someone else’s problems. No advice or offering solutions when you are sharing.
  • Maintain anonymity and confidentiality. Sharing any information outside of the group, with the exception of threats of injury to themselves or others, is expressly forgiven.
  • Offensive language is banned
So, Celebrate Recovery meetings can greatly vary in message, content, and experience. Most people will be asked to attend all three stages, but in most areas, these are optional. In most cases, you can think of the three steps as, “Connect, Learn, Share”, and missing out on any one of them will likely detract from your experience.

Getting Help

christiansdrugrehab-What-Happens-at-a-Celebrate-Recovery-Meeting-photo-of-four women discussing during therapy

If you or a loved one is struggling, it’s important to take the time to get help. People struggling with substance use disorder greatly benefit from rehab, including detox, cognitive behavioral therapy, and complimentary therapies. Attending self-help groups, including spiritual and Christian-based ones like Celebrate Recovery meetings can help you to recover by improving social accountability, helping to you to find a place in the world and your social life, and giving motivation. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, please contact Christians Drug Rehab to learn more about our program. Our dedicated team can help you break the cycle of addiction and manage any co-occurring mental health condition that may accompany you or your loved one’s disorder.