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From Brokenness and Addiction to Blessedness and Community

series: Pastoring for Life: Theological Wisdom for Ministering Well

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Addressing a major public-health crisis, this book provides a theologically rich commentary on the challenge of addiction and the long road to recovery.

Written by a minister with extensive experience working with people who struggle with addictions, Recovering helps pastors and ministers-in-training understand the roots and realities of our universal human struggle with addictions and attachments while showing that together we have great hope for freedom, wholeness, and recovery. Readers will learn how to create and foster a Beatitude Community, the kind of environment Jesus prescribed for his people, to help people struggling with addiction and those who love them resist and heal from the brokenness of our world.

About the Series
Pastors are called to help people navigate the profound mysteries of being human, from birth to death and everything in between. This series, edited by leading pastoral theologian Jason Byassee, provides pastors and pastors-in-training with rich theological reflection on the various seasons that make up a human life, helping them minister with greater wisdom and joy.

From the Series Preface
"We don't pastor only during intense times. No one can live at that decibel level all the time. We pastor in the ordinary, the mundane, the beautiful (or depressing!) day-by-day most of the time. Yet it is striking how often during those everyday moments our talk turns to the transitions of birth, death, illness, and the beginning and end of vocation. Pastors sometimes joke, or lament, that we are only ever called when people want to be 'hatched, matched, or dispatched'--born or baptized, married, or eulogized. But those are moments we share with all humanity, and they are good moments in which to do gospel work. As an American, it feels perfectly natural to ask a couple how they met. But a South African friend told me he feels this is exceedingly intrusive! What I am really asking is how someone met God as they met the person to whom they have made lifelong promises. I am asking about transition and encounter--the tender places where the God of cross and resurrection meets us. And I am thinking about how to bear witness amid the transitions that are our lives. Pastors are the ones who get phone calls at these moments and have the joy, burden, or just plain old workaday job of showing up with oil for anointing, with prayers, to be a sign of the Holy Spirit's overshadowing goodness in all of our lives."--Jason Byassee

Series Preface
by Bob Ekblad
Part 1: Broken and Blessed
1. Broken
2. Blessed
Part 2: The Beatitude Community
3. Surrendered Community:
The Poor in Spirit
4. Lamenting Community:
Those Who Mourn
5. Contented Community:
The Meek
6. Ordered Community:
Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness
7. Compassionate Community:
The Merciful
8. Contemplative Community:
The Pure in Heart
9. Reconciling Community:
The Peacemakers
10. Co-suffering Community:
The Persecuted


"Aaron White is a sharp-minded practitioner, a longterm pioneer on the frontlines of addiction and boy can he write! I recommend this book wholeheartedly to anyone engaged in patterns of addictive behavior. It is a book of hope."

Pete Greig, 24-7 Prayer International

"This is a brutally honest but ultimately hopeful book. Aaron White understands that addiction isn't mainly an individual problem; it's a problem of community. Using the Beatitudes as his guide, White shows us how addiction is a symptom of dislocated and broken communities, including churches. Drawing on a wealth of experience, he describes the alternative Beatitude Community, and he shows us how to take steps to get there. I hope this book will be widely read, especially in churches that are ready to take addiction seriously."

Kent Dunnington, associate professor of philosophy, Biola University; author of Addiction and Virtue: Beyond the Models of Disease and Choice

"Aaron White and his lovely family have been in ministry for many years. I first met them as colleagues in ministry on the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. They have lived the contents of this book and continue to do so. Their lives are grace filled, freedom filled, and Spirit filled. As is this book."

Cheryl Bear, Nadleh Whut'en First Nation

"I finished reading Aaron White's book in the middle of the pandemic of 2020, as the whole world was grappling with a stark expression of how broken our beautiful world is. Recovering gives us a foundation on which to move toward rebuilding our lives. From his experience living and serving in one of the most desperate neighborhoods in the world, White helps us realize that the root of our addictive and destructive behavior is pain. The only way forward is acknowledging the pain, and the only way to do that is by living in a new kind of community--one that embraces the pain and brings it to the Great Healer. That new community, White compellingly argues, is the Beatitude Community formed by Jesus's words of blessing in the opening of the Sermon on the Mount. What an inviting picture of that community White paints! He can paint it because he lives it. I will be rereading this book for a long time--until I finally live it too."

Darrell Johnson, author of Discipleship on the Edge, Experiencing the Trinity, and The Beatitudes: Living in Sync with the Reign of God

The Author

  1. Aaron White
    Ciara White

    Aaron White

    Aaron White (MTS, Tyndale Seminary) lives and ministers in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, one of the most destitute areas in North America. He serves as the Vancouver representative for the International Association for Refugees and as national leader of 24-7...

    Continue reading about Aaron White


"A welcome interdisciplinary treatise. It is a labor of love from an evangelical urban minister widely read in biblical theology, history, contemplative practices, social psychology, social ethics, and seasoned pastoral counseling ably complemented by rich bodies of personal, communal, ecclesial, and academic experiences. The book's author, Aaron White, offers us a discourse on the nature and dynamics of addiction by way of spiritual autobiography, biography-as-theology, and case studies. . . . In short, this is a multivolume work compressed concisely into a single volume, which is commendable. . . . White joins a chorus of timely and tested advocates for hope; and hope being a relative theological virtue, welcomes as it needs the relatives--'all my relations'--of faith as trust via justice-making and keeping."

Barry K. Morris,

Reading Religion