A question I’m often asked about Recovery Groups at The Village is, “What’s the difference between Support and Steps?” My hope for this post is to address some of the distinctions and differences between these two types of Recovery Groups.
Recovery Groups are one of the ways (along with Home Groups) that we pursue gospel-centered community at The Village. They are groups that address sin and suffering in our lives with the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Within the Recovery Groups ministry, there are two different expressions of gospel-centered community called Support and Steps. Both work together for the shared goal of intentional discipleship, of presenting every person mature in Christ (Col 1:28), yet each does so in a distinct way.
Recovery Groups: Support
Support is the entry point for most people interested in attending Recovery Groups. Support groups are open, meaning that anyone can attend and no prior registration is required. Support meets for two hours each week (except for nights we have Elder-led Prayer in Dallas and Denton). The first hour consists of a biblical teaching or a testimony of God’s transformative grace in a person’s life. During the second hour, participants break into small groups. These gender-specific groups address various issues, such as addiction, abuse or suffering. While each group may gather around a specific issue, group leaders and participants focus on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as the only cure for the deep fracture of the human soul and the sufficiency of the Word of God to address our wounds, struggles and suffering.
Through Support, men and women begin building a foundation for discipleship by seeing their lives in a new way. Many have come to Support beaten down and exhausted from extended seasons of sin, suffering and brokenness. Our hope is to equip participants with an understanding that God is our healer and is working all things, even the most difficult seasons and circumstances, for our good and His glory. As the Psalmist says, “He heals the brokenhearted; he binds up their wounds.” (Ps. 147:3)
For many, involvement in this type of community is the first step toward experiencing the freedom that comes through faith in Christ. As participants walk in a posture of confession and repentance, God brings healing and transformation. The amount of time participants spend in these groups varies. After an extended season, ranging from 6 weeks to 7 months, we encourage those attending Support to participate in Steps, the other aspect of Recovery Groups.
Recovery Groups: Steps
Steps is a 13-week intensive discipleship process that builds upon the foundation gained in Support. Steps meets on Wednesdays, occurs three times a year and consists of weekly teaching, a gender-specific small group, and daily Bible study that examines how the gospel relates to sin and suffering. In addition, participants complete an assessment (an honest self-examination of the heart) alongside a mentor in a one-on-one relationship. Participants examine different areas of their lives (anger, abuse, fear, sex, etc.), not so that they might be weighed down by past sins or suffering, but so that they might see all the more the beauty of Jesus and the hope of the gospel to address the brokenness of the human heart.
It’s helpful to think of Steps as structured, purposed discipleship that addresses the motivations and desires of the heart. Through this process of personal and corporate Bible study and prayer, God exposes our misplaced and idolatrous motivations and desires so that we might turn from sin and submit to the loving and gracious rule of Jesus.
One of my continual joys is seeing the ways in which God brings about transformation through involvement in a Recovery Group. If you have or are currently walking through a difficult season in life, Recovery Groups (whether Support or Steps) provide a safe place to find gospel-centered community and pursue redemption in Christ from sin and suffering.