White Marsh Baptist Church member, John Burghauser, is a pastoral care worker for Stauros Ministries, providing individual care for those suffering from addictions and their families.

Burghauser was addicted to drugs and alcohol for over 20 years. A user of multiple substances, including opiates, who saw his life crumbling before God saved him, he shares several suggestions and thoughts for churches to consider when welcoming people who are or were struggling with addictions:

  • There is usually something lying beneath the wayward behavior;
  • We need to learn ‘active listening’ in order to pick up on the real issue(s);
  • We need to help individuals recognize and begin addressing the core issue(s);
  • People need to know we are with them for the ‘long haul;’
  • We need to know what we can help with (and what we can’t);
  • We shouldn’t offer unrealistic promises (from us or from God);
  • They don’t need us to continually point out right and wrong;
  • They do need us to help set (achievable) goals to stay on track;
  • They also need us to remind them, through Christ, they can stay on track;
  • We need to make sure we are surrounding ourselves with (peer) support (Gal. 6:1-2);
  • We need to make sure our body language and/or voice inflections don’t communicate a different message than the words that we say to them; and
  • They need a ‘safe environment’ in which to experience new life in the Lord. (For instance, don’t take it upon ourselves to ‘share’ their need in a prayer group or be too quick to suggest to them to ‘open up’ about their struggles)