How Can a Celebrate Recovery Program be Age appropriate for Jr. High and High School Students?

I hear this question a lot from many of those that attend Celebrate Recovery (CR). The format of The Landing is similar to CR in that there is a large group session and small group session. The curriculum has been written specifically for students with the same guidelines and principles, just a different delivery. But what I really think that the adults are questioning is the content of the small group sessions and can it really work for students?

Since becoming a leader of the The Landing 10 months ago I have learned so much from the students. I have learned that there are no differences in the hurts, hang-ups, and habits between the adults and the students. Well, actually the only difference is that the youth are finding healing earlier in their lives. The students are desperately looking for an outlet to express their pain and emotions. The sharing in small group is honest and very deep. I believe that the confidentiality of the small group allows them to feel free to share issues that they feel they cannot share with anyone else in their lives. There have been many times when I openly cried with each girl as they told their story. Their problems and pain are very real; this may be hard for adults to accept. The youth are very aware of everything that goes on in their environment and it deeply affects them.

The best part about the program is seeing the transformation. Out of all of this pain I see students forgive others, makes amends to those who they have hurt, break off unhealthy friendships, break addictions, and experience victory and joy. This is proof that the program works for those who choose to stay with it. They are learning how to process through their feelings and understand why they do what they do. They are gaining a firm foundation on God’s truth for the rest of their lives. Of course this doesn’t mean that they won’t experience pain and problems as they enter adulthood. However, I hope they will always take the tools that they have learned and apply them to their lives. So, yes, a CR program is very appropriate and relevant for students and it works for junior high and high school students.

I became a leader to serve and be a blessing to others. However, the truth is my students have blessed me so much more than they could ever know. I’ll end with this verse:

Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Thanks for letting me share.

Jr. High Small Group Leader
The Landing
Saddleback Church

Bio Hi, I’m Torie and I lead the Jr. High girls for The Landing. I started leading in January of this year at the launch of The Landing at Saddleback Church. I am so excited to be a part of this great ministry. Before becoming a leader I had been attending Celebrate Recovery for over a year and had just completed a step study. I think I was the only brave soul who wanted to lead the Jr. High girls! I can honestly say Jr. Highers are the best! It’s been a wonderful blessing to be a part of God’s plan in changing the lives of our students. God Bless.

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Dennis Beckner
Dennis Beckner has served in youth ministry leadership for Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA since 1999. Dennis is a contributor and speaker to youth training events, writing projects and other engagements. Contact him at his blog,