Four Keys to Growing Your Church’s Addiction Ministry (and any other ministry!)

by: Michael Fargarson

Sometimes growing a new ministry proves challenging, especially an avant garde ministry such as an addiction ministry. Here are four keys to growing a new ministry at your church or in your community.

The First and Foremost Key is Prayer. This one’s obvious but often either neglected or taken for granted. Drawing from James 4, Spurgeon once said concerning the lack of prayer, “Now, if there be no conversions, and no additions to such churches, what is the reason? Is it not found here, ‘Ye have not, because ye ask not’?”  Every ministry needs to be birthed in prayer and continued in prayer on every possible level (Luke 18:1, Eph. 6:18).

Of course, the ministry leaders and team members must gather regularly and earnestly pray together. This is merely the starting place. Prayer should be solicited from the entire local fellowship as well as other believers outside of the fellowship. Every truly successful ministry has a band of prayer warriors pleading for God to move and binding the enemy.

Here are some practical ideas for making sure the ministry has prayer coverage:

  1. Ask for commitments to pray regularly for the ministry and have some type of commemoration and reminder.
  2. Print prayer cards with ongoing prayer requests for the ministry to be distributed to prayer warriors.
  3. Have an email distribution list for regular prayer updates.
  4. Add the ministry to the corporate prayer list during worship services and prayer meetings.
  5. Make sure that the prayer ministry is aware of your addiction ministry needs.
  6. Enlist the group participants and family members to pray.
  7. Encourage participants to have prayer partners or teams praying for them and the ministry.

The Second Key is Publicity. Make sure that the entire congregation knows about the ministry including the purpose and vision of it and the time and place it meets.  The addiction ministry should not be a deep, dark secret hidden in the musty basement. Instead, it must be a featured, valued ministry just like any other ministry in the church.

Practically everyone personally knows someone who is struggling with an addiction. If they are aware of the ministry and know lives are being changed there, they will tell people about it whenever they encounter those who need it.

Here are some practical suggestions for publicizing the addiction ministry:

  1. Preach sermons dealing with addictions and promote the ministry. What is prioritized in preaching prospers!
  2. Make sure to put the ministry on the church’s website. Have it featured on the home page if possible.
  3. Make a promotional video to be played before services, at info monitors, on the website, etc.
  4. Post on the church’s social media accounts and perhaps even create accounts specifically for the addiction ministry.
  5. Use live, recorded, and/or written testimonies of people whose lives have been changed by the ministry. There’s nothing more powerful than that!

The Third Key is Partnering. Partnering should come naturally to believers as we are all members of Christ’s body and a part of one family (Eph 4:4; Gal. 6:10). Sadly, though, there are often barriers even with in the same local fellowship that make cooperation difficult. However, it is well worth the effort to create vital partnerships to grow addiction ministries. Something powerful happens when we put down agendas and come together for the sake of the gospel.

Look for ways that you can involve other ministries in the addiction ministry. Depending on the size of your church and the number of ministries present, there are a variety of possible partnerships. Working with the prayer ministry has already been mentioned. Evangelism/visitation ministries may encounter prospects for the addiction ministry. The women’s ministry or hospitality ministry could provide meals or refreshments. The counseling ministry would be an obvious partner.

Many times looking outside of your church for partnerships can increase the fruitfulness of the addiction ministry. Consider partnering with other churches. It would be better to have a thriving multi-church addiction ministry than to have three or four that are dying. Of course, there must be agreement on the Gospel and on a biblical approach, but beyond that what really matters?

Also, look for partnering opportunities with para-church organizations such as missions, residential and non-residential programs, and social ministries. Denominational offices and pastoral associations may be of assistance. Government institutions such as courts, jails, probation offices and the like often welcome any groups willing to help with the substance epidemic.

Basically, any organization at which addicts may be present could be a potential partner. Brainstorm what organizations are in your community and reach out to them.

The Fourth and Final Key is Patience. Even though addicts are everywhere, growing a fruitful addictions ministry takes time. In fact according to John 15, we cannot make fruit appear. Only God can bring forth fruit. Our part is to abide in Him faithfully and obediently.  We can plant and water, He brings the increase (I Cor.3:6).

Also remember that those who are faithful with little will be faithful with much (Luke 16:10). Too often we want to run before we crawl. Don’t despise the small start. Embrace and enjoy it. If God brings just one, love and disciple that one. Do that well, and you’ll be ready for another one or two. Before you know it there may be ten. Maybe not.

Either way, rejoice and be glad that God has called you and enabled you to be a part of His work of redeeming those enslaved in addiction.

In summary, we’ve looked at four keys to growing an addictions ministry in your church. Here they are again: Bathe the ministry in prayer, Publicize the ministry to make sure as many people as possible know about it, Build partnerships in the church and the community to find prospects, and be patient while you faithfully work and trust God to bring the increase.

Click to Tweet: Rejoice and be glad that God has called you and enabled you to be a part of His work of redeeming those enslaved in addiction. -Michael Fargarson @mfargy #GrowAddictionMinistry #helpforaddicts



Meet Michael Fargarson

Michael serves on the TAC commissioning team for TAC and as a presenter at our training events. He first joined Mark in Truth in Love Ministries about a decade ago, serving as a board member and a counselor. Michael brings a unique mix of business, legal, and ministry experience to the TAC team. He holds an MDiv from Southwestern Seminary and a JD from Birmingham School of Law. He has been married to his lovely, gifted wife Paula for 27 years and have three young adult children. The Fargarsons presently reside in Indianapolis, IN.

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Consumed by the Horizontal or the Vertical?

by: Justin Usiak

The last few months of my life has been very … let’s just say confusing. If you took a sheet of paper and wrote out all the amazing things happening in my life you would run out of lines. From the outside looking in, I have been truly blessed. I mean that God has answered so many prayers in such obvious ways that there is no denying Who is in control. Now that I’m thinking about all that God has done recently—I’m literally getting overwhelmed.

What has been confusing is that the last few months have been some of the hardest months I’ve ever faced as a Christian. I’ve felt like I’ve been in a slump. In the morning it feels like I have to climb a mountain to get out of bed. I haven’t had the motivation to go to the gym before work and have struggled with getting there. I’ve found my studies have been blah. Every day I study God’s Word, counsel and disciple men, run a general contracting company, spend time with my wife and daughter, and go to the gym. These are daily things that I’ve always found so much joy in, but they have recently become empty monotonous tasks.

I’ve found that I’ve constantly had to battle offense and disunity with the closest people in my life. Even though God has been moving in so many obvious ways and confirming the place that He has me, I’ve found myself glorifying the thought of finding another job. Finding another community, just wanting something else. What in the world is going on here? My life is amazing and I am so discontent. I have never faced this in my walk with Christ. It seems as if “depression” has started to invade my life.

Last week I had enough. I prayed and prayed and pleaded with God to expose anything in my heart that offends Him. It’s been a weird spiritual and emotional rollercoaster, but God is faithful. I found a common theme in my studies and prayers this past week, in the sermon my pastor preached, in the leadership summit I attended—all within a five-day period I probably read and heard this verse ten times. Hebrews 12:1-17.

In verse one we read lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely and run with endurance the race that is set before us. The question is how? Which is answered in verse two, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, for the Joy that was set before him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. I’ve read this verse many times, but this past week the Lord has used it to answer my prayer. He has shown me that I’ve become consumed by the horizontal.

In the middle of verse two it says for the Joy set before Him, He endured the Cross. The joy set before Him was His ascension. His exaltation—seated at the right hand of the throne of God. This reminded me of Luke 9:51 that says with His eyes fixed on His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem. Jesus knew what He was going to have to endure. He knew the pain that He was going to face. He knew the betrayal and the deceit He would receive from the closest of people. He knew the temptation He would face. Most of all Jesus knew He would be dying on the cross and taking on the sin of mankind, for that moment being separated from the Father. So why did Jesus continue going to Jerusalem knowing what He was going to face? You see Jesus did not focus on everything that He was going to face (the horizontal). Jesus focused on His ascension. He focused on the joy that was set before Him. The Joy of fulfilling His fathers will. The joy of spending eternity seated at the right hand of the father. Jesus was focused on his Father’s will. He was focused on eternity (the vertical).

Sometimes in life we find ourselves getting easily distracted by the things of this world. We become consumed by relationships, ministry, work, business, family, and everything else around us. Especially in the culture we live in. It’s really easy to get distracted. It’s really easy to start doing things for the glory of man rather than the glory of God.

God has shown me through this season that when my eyes are not fixed on Jesus. but rather consumed with the world, things get confusing.

Here is the progression: I find myself discontent, questioning God rather than trusting God. I get burned out on people. I lose passion and a motivation to serve the people around me. To put it simply, nothing is enough! I’m reminded of how my life was before I knew Christ. It’s at this point that confusion sets in.

The fact of the matter is that we do not serve a God of confusion. When our eyes are fixed on Him, we endure, we fight, we strive for peace, and for holiness. We take joy in trials, we are thankful for the very breath that God has given us. We don’t question God, we trust God. We do not grow weary, but we stand firm. We run with endurance, rather than fall with exhaustion.

God is so faithful and has reminded me to examine myself every day to see with what I’m consumed. You cannot be consumed with the things of this world (horizontal) and end up with a healthy relationship with God (vertical) but instead when we are consumed by God (vertical), we understand what He has called us to do in this world.

Click to Tweet: “The Lord is my solid rock, my fortress, my rescuer.” – Justin Usiak #fixyoureyesonJesus

My name is Justin Usiak. I am a husband to Amanda Grace, a father to Everly Grace and a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. This was not always the case. I lived a very extreme, rebellious and sinful lifestyle in my teenage and young adult years that led me to a place of drug addiction, homeless, and depravity. The Lord drew me out of that darkness and changed my Heart. I came to a men’s discipleship program called the Mission house in Port Orchard Washington where God showed me who I was and why I was created. Today I have the privilege of serving as the Associate Director at the Mission House. By God’s grace my beautiful family and I get to reflect the Glory of the Almighty God and point people to the only hope that I have…my Savior, Christ Jesus. Praise Him!!!

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Why I Wrote “How Not to Raise an Addict”*

by: Mark Shaw

Focus Publishing produced my booklet, How Not to Raise an Addict, to help parents to raise children that love God. Obviously, parents are not in control of their children’s hearts or their children’s decisions to follow Christ, but they can learn parenting skills that instill a humble, Christ-like mindset rather than an addicted one.

How Not to Raise an Addict was challenging to write because all parents, except for God the Father, are flawed and inadequate without the grace of God. I think this booklet helps parents in three ways:

  1. Kids are responsible for their choices but parents are responsible for their actions as parents. There are ways parents can either change or strengthen what they do in their parenting regardless of the age of the child.
  2. It is urgent that parents learn biblical principles for parenting to instill the mind of Christ in their child so that when temptation comes the child will be ready to say “no.” Based upon two passages of Scripture, I examine five mentalities of an addict which are subtle when a child is young but so pervasive in our culture today. One additional note is that each mentality often leads into the subsequent mentality, yet the goal for parents is to instill the mind of Christ in their children.
  3. There is no guarantee. This is not a book of legalistic to-do lists but rather a booklet to reflect upon mentalities that either need to be discouraged or encouraged in parenting.

Portions of this booklet were excerpted from my larger book, Addiction-Proof Parenting, released in 2010 in English and in 2013 in Korean. The larger book offers general parenting strategies and a fuller look at the mind of an addict versus the mind of Christ. God’s Word offers us incredible insights into parenting in ways that are loving, full of truth, and full of grace.

This book can be used in several ways:

  1. Counselors can assign it as homework for counselees to reflect upon their attitudes in parenting, examining where they can improve as well as what they are doing well.
  2. Pastors and church lay leaders can lead a short, six-week class on parenting using this booklet. Each of the five mentalities could be discussed weekly with either an opening week of teaching or a closing week. Six weeks is a good time frame for a parenting class.
  3. Those who counsel and work in the addiction field will gain valuable insights about the nature of addictive thinking and how it can be instilled not only by parents but by other authority figures.
  4. Anyone can read the booklet and glean parenting insights or even in general, how a Christ-follower can learn to think more like Christ. It could benefit any reader.

God’s sufficient Word has much to offer us in the realm of everyday problems. My hope is that parents will be helped and encouraged by this booklet even though it may be convicting at times. Conviction for the believer is good because it provides an opportunity to grow spiritually for the ultimate goal of glorifying God.

TAC Staff Note: This article was originally published at on September 15, 2017. View the original post here.

About Mark Shaw

Mark E. Shaw (D. Min.) is President and Founder of Truth in Love Ministries and The Addiction Connection. He resides in Florence, KY, with his wife and children. The author of 20 publications including The Heart of Addiction, Addiction-Proof Parenting, and Divine Intervention: Hope and Help for Families of Addicts, Mark enjoys speaking, training, and traveling for the purpose of encouraging and edifying local churches in their outreach to hurting souls.

Follow Mark on: Facebook  and  Twitter