“You’re slowly coming out of denial,” I said smiling. “This is good. We’re making progress in our group therapy session today.”
Everyone laughed.

“I think I’m beginning to understand,” Kirk added. “However, I’m still not sure people want to hear this message.”

“Of course they don’t want to hear the message,” I said. “That’s precisely why we’re obligated to send it. Someone has to come out of denial long enough to consider the possibility that we’ve all got addictive traits and symptoms. Many of us are card-carrying addicts even though we go to church every week and hold down full-time jobs. We’re addicted to everyday things like coffee, cell phones, Coke, and shopping.”

By now, the team was starting to get it: Everyday addicts are everywhere, and we shouldn’t be too quick to exclude ourselves.

“This is also the perfect opportunity,” I continued, “to show people how everyday addictions, habits, and compulsions hamper our freedom to be all that God wants us to be. That’s really the point of the book. Addictions nail us to our particular drug of choice and limit our freedom. God brings freedom to our lives.”

“You know,” Kirk said thoughtfully, “the more I think about this, the more excited I get. Christians need to be talking about addictions. We have answers to issues of addiction and bondage. We have power from our relationship in Christ—true freedom.”

“Yes,” I said, “and I want to offer hope and help to the hard-core addict, the soft-core addict, and the everyday addict. I want to bring our faith to bear on these issues.”

Perhaps you can relate. You go to work every day. You’ve got kids and a home, and you hold down a full-time job. Yet you struggle with compulsive behaviors common to many others. That’s why this book is for you. Together we’ll learn about addictions—we’ll talk about something most of us try to avoid. And we’ll discover answers and see what Scripture has to say on the matter.

In the Next Pew

Picture yourself in a church. The sanctuary is full. Standing in front of a 300-member church, I give the following instructions:

“I want everyone to stand and close your eyes. I’m going to list a number of common problems. Sit down if one rings true for you.

“If you’ve struggled with compulsive eating, anorexia, bulimia, the use of laxatives for weight loss, or excessive fears about body image, please sit down.

“Anyone who’s struggled with compulsive drinking, illicit substances, or overuse of prescription medications, please sit down.

“If you’ve struggled with compulsive gambling, spending, or shopping, please sit down. That includes compulsive garage sale and e-Bay shopping.” Nervous giggles are heard as more people sit down.

“Anyone who’s struggled with sexual addiction, including serial affairs, serial dating, pornography, or compulsive masturbation, please sit down.

“Everyone who’s struggled with work addiction, please sit down. This includes compulsively checking your e-mail, obsessively scanning the Internet for your favorite daily blog, and issues with power and control at work.

“Anyone who’s struggled with compulsive television or movie viewing, please sit down.

“Everyone who’s struggled with compulsive exercise addiction or competition addiction, please sit down.

“If you’ve struggled from the ravages of seeking approval from others, please sit down. This includes problems with codependency.”

The remaining 12 people were noticeably anxious, shifting positions and fidgeting. They had their eyes closed, but they’d heard their fellow worshippers dropping out in droves. Now they wondered whether they were addiction free or if I was ready to point one out that fit them.