by Danielle Nick
On Thursday, March 23, 2017, Chuck Blair, the Senior Pastor at NewChurch LIVE came to our class to discuss how addiction has become a part of his ministry. When NewChurch LIVE was founded around seven years ago, the power structure of the church was thoroughly considered. In the end, the decision was made to structure the church as if it were a tree. A tree grows from the roots or bottom-up. Blair discussed how the typical pyramid structure or a top-down approach is flawed. “A pyramid is a tomb; it doesn’t really work,” Blair said. Additionally, Blair believes religion provides the rare opportunity to reconnect with one another. He always keeps this idea in mind when he is building services. Blair explained how it is crucial to “create services and conversations that aren’t about squeezing people into one box.” In order to create these types of effective services, a planning team meets to listen to people’s unique experiences. After the team brainstorms, they can begin to build an appropriate service. Over time, the church implemented an addiction service. Today, Blair describes the addiction service as a huge success, and he predicts that the service will continue to grow.
During his time at NewChurch LIVE, Blair met Rob Nash and Mary Haney. Both Nash and Haney have been affected by addiction in some way. Nash introduced himself to our class as a drug addict. Growing up Nash attended parochial school, which helped shape his relationship with God. “I always heard of a punishing God,” Nash said. So, when Nash’s addiction took over, he felt a lot of guilt and shame. Eventually, his family set up an intervention, and Nash went to a rehabilitation center in Maryland for 30 days. After he left rehab, Nash started going to 12-step meetings.“When I got out I started going to meetings, and I’ve been doing that ever since. I don’t know why it works for me and not for someone else,” Nash said. Today, Nash is a member at NewChurch LIVE and has a new, strengthened relationship with God. “Today I have a god that is loving,” Nash explained. Nash also feels compelled to use his story to help others affected by addiction. He said, “I believe the reason I’m on this planet is to help other people with these issues.” Nash was proud to announce that on May 15th, he will be clean and sober for 34 years. Haney, on the other hand, is not an addict. However, she too knows the power of addiction.
Haney lost her son to an overdose four years ago. She explained how a dental procedure ultimately prompted the beginning of her son’s tragic addiction. After a surgery, her son was prescribed pain medication, and eventually, he switched to heroin. She described how helpless she felt as a mother watching her son battle such a devastating disease. “It feels like being thrown in a fishbowl and not knowing how to swim,” Haney said. She started attending 12-step family support meetings and found them to be very helpful. At the meetings, Haney was surrounded by people going through similar situations. She explained how thinking of addiction as a disease and not a choice was difficult for her to fully understand. To help her better understand addiction, someone once told her, “Don’t look at the addiction and the behavior; look at the person underneath.” Today, Haney encourages others to see people as they are, not the mess that addiction has turned them into. She is so happy to be a part of NewChurch LIVE, where she be a listening ear and supportive friend for people struggling to cope with addiction.
Both Nash and Haney’s touching stories reinforced Blair’s philosophy: “Life is always three things: blessed, broken, and shared.” Though they both endured a difficult road, they are here to share their experiences and help others.
** NewChurch LIVE’s office is located at 2790 Huntingdon Pike, Bryn Athyn, PA. 19009. Services are held in the Mitchel Performing Arts Center, which is located at 800 Tomlinson Road, Bryn Athyn, PA. 19009. For more information visit http://www.newchurchlive.tv/. **