Below are the most frequently asked questions by ministry leaders who are offering or considering offering Freedom Session.
Who is Freedom Session for?
In a nutshell, Freedom Session is for everyone and a critical part of one’s discipleship journey. It’s equally appropriate for those who grew up in the church as it is for those without previous Christian experience.
How is Freedom Session different from traditional 12-step recovery programs?
First of all, Freedom Session is not a recovery program. It’s a healing-discipleship program and both our goals and process are significantly different.
Traditional 12 Step recovery programs ask people to turn their life and will over to god as they understand him to be, and refer to this god as a higher power. Freedom Session is based on a solid conviction that Jesus Christ is God, the Highest Power and the only one who can heal our hearts, transform our lives and set us free from our unhealthy behaviors, bitterness or addictions.
Freedom Session does not ask participants to identify themselves by their own sin, flaws, past (for example, “My name is Jim and I am an alcoholic”) or the sins/flaws of another (for example, “My name is Alexis and I am a survivor of sexual abuse”). What Freedom Session does is much deeper than most 12-step programs because it’s focused on healing the heart.
Twelve-step programs are most commonly attended by people with addictions or compulsive behaviors. Freedom Session is for everyone, including church leaders! Visionary pastors are taking their entire church leadership and staff through the program and changing the DNA of their local church.
Three other significant differences:
- We believe Jesus can and will heal the heart from past wounds / trauma which reduces the various means by which we escape pain (withdrawal, alcohol, sex, fantasy, work, blaming…) to a bad but unnecessary option.
- We define “success” to include graduation, vs staying in a recovery program or state of mind. We want our FS grads to take the authenticity and tools they learned in FS into other areas of ministry, homes businesses and community.
- While you can find some similarity in the FS steps 1-9 process to Christian recovery (they are still different), Steps 10-12 are entirely different and go much deeper into a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit over a recovery community. We call this portion of the course, “Authentic Living” in which we get real with God, ourselves and others…and in that order.
How is Freedom Session different from other Christian recovery programs?
While we are familiar with many Christian recovery programs we aren’t aware of all of them so this is not an exhaustive answer.
We work alongside other Christian ministries and are grateful and encouraged by the many Christian recovery programs that God is using to strengthen His church. That said, there are a number of differences between Freedom Session and other Christian recovery programs.
At its core, Freedom Session is a healing-discipleship ministry, not a recovery ministry. With healing as the ultimate goal, we see Freedom Session as a healthy and normative aspect of discipleship.
How can Freedom Session work with Celebrate Recovery in my church?
Celebrate Recovery is one of the better Christian recovery programs available and has proven itself to be an effective bridge into the recovery community. However, Freedom Session and CR have significantly different goals and are best seen as complementary rather than competition.
For churches already offering Celebrate Recovery, Freedom Session is an excellent next step for those ready for the next stage of their discipleship journey.
What does a typical Freedom “Session” look like?
There are the three elements that typically occur in a Freedom Session experience.
- Large group teaching where participants gather together to absorb teaching from the Freedom Session author by video
- The small group experience is strategically designed for participants to interact with the teaching and explore how the teaching applies to their lives
- Taking steps towards freedom is the weekly homework assignment, an essential part of Freedom Session that takes one or two hours each week
Can people use Freedom Session materials on their own?
Yes. However, to have the best possible Freedom Session experience, we still recommend participants take the journey with others.
How long is Freedom Session? What is the commitment of my leadership team?
Freedom Session is a 20-week healing-discipleship journey with an optional eight-week follow-up course called Authentic Living. The leadership team is expected to attend each session and actively participate in or lead the small group experience.
How many people who start Freedom Session graduate from the program?
Here is what we typically find, supposing a launch of 40 participants.
During the first two weeks, participants grow by 20%
Once participants realize there is a homework commitment, there is a 5-10% drop
Around Participant Guide 2—Finding Freedom, there may be more attrition (5-10%), primarily from those who are behind in their homework
The greatest factor in participant retention is the love, authenticity and commitment of the Freedom Session facilitator. Some sow the seed, some water and some harvest. God causes the growth and the healing.
What is the ideal Freedom Session size?
There is no ideal size.
The smallest “official” Freedom Session ministry we’ve registered was a group of three women (they all graduated, by the way). The largest we know of started out with just over 250 people. One advantage of a large Freedom Session ministry is a momentum that confirms Freedom Session to be a normative part of the discipleship journey. One advantage of a smaller Freedom Session ministry is intimacy.
Think of Freedom Session as the tool rather than the rule. Allow God to guide the process and adapt Freedom Session as needed.
I’m interested but not sure. Is there any way for my church to try Freedom Session out?
Yes. In these situations we recommend running a Pilot Group for churches to experience Freedom Session and discern next steps. Over 95% of the churches who run pilot groups launch a full version of Freedom Session within a year.
How do we create healthy small groups within Freedom Session?
Over the years, we have tried different approaches to grouping participants. With a low number of participants, focus on gender splitting. With more participants, sub-divide men’s and women’s groups according to life stage or by the issues they’ve come to deal with.
How large is a Freedom Session small group?
We have found that the ideal number is eight: six participants, led by a lead facilitator and an assistant facilitator.
What happens when participants drop out?
Allow participants to drop out of Freedom Session but also encourage anyone considering dropping out to continue large group participation.
Leading a healing-discipleship ministry like Freedom Session is one of the most necessary, most difficult and most rewarding ministries in the church. As a result of leading a Freedom Session ministry or small group, captives are being set free, the blind are receiving sight and the broken-hearted are being healed.
What do you do with participants who “relapse” or go back to their unhealthy ways of dealing with life?
At a leadership level, we must realize that relapse is inevitable and, in fact, is often part of the healing-discipleship process. When relapse happens, there are often consequences we can’t protect the participant from. However, we can offer a safe and welcoming community in which people can return to when they’re ready.
There are times when a participant cannot be welcomed back to the community.
If a participant’s behaviour or attitudes are threatening towards other participants
If a participant continues indulging in unhealthy behaviours without a reasonable effort to overcome them
At this point, we may ask another group to consider taking the participant in after the participant explains to them why he/she was asked to leave. This is our way of helping participants take responsibility for their lives while at the same time creating a culture where failure does disqualify a participant from continuing their journey. Of course, each situation is different and needs to be discerned on an individual basis.
What happens after Freedom Session is over?
Once participants complete Freedom Session they are encouraged to take Authentic Living.
After completing Authentic Living, we suggest interested small groups or triads continue to meet for an additional three months for support and accountability using the Authentic Life Journal as a guide.
Where can I buy Freedom Session and Authentic Living Materials?
Freedom Session and Authentic Living materials can be purchased online in the United States and Canada.
How much does Freedom Session cost?
Please visit our online store for current prices.
Are there discounts for larger quantities of Freedom Session resources?
Yes. We offer bundle pricing for Participant Guides in quantities of 10, 25 and 50.
What ages does Freedom Session work with? What about youth?
Freedom Session is designed and intended to be taken by adults, meaning those who have completed high school. The youngest Freedom Session grad we have personally seen is 17 and the oldest is 84.
Does Freedom Session work for depression and mental illness?
Yes and no.
Here is our belief and experience:
If one’s depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, then divine healing is the only cure and prescription medication is the only treatment. In this case, we have no challenge with medical treatment. However, if one’s depression is primarily caused by trauma, relational breakdown, low self-esteem, poor life choices or some other psychological reason, Freedom Session can be very helpful.
We have had numerous medical doctors and psychologists suggest Freedom Session as part of a balanced therapy approach.
With mental illness, we believe there is authentic mental illness and are grateful for the education available today that has lifted some of the stigma those who suffer with this condition endure.
We recommend those diagnosed with a mental illness receive permission from their psychologist or psychiatrist before registering in Freedom Session. An individual with authentic mental illness may not be capable of engaging the Freedom Session material or homework and may do better with individual counselling.
The same recommendations are made for people who have had brain injuries or other trauma affecting their mental faculties.