An Idol-Killing Machine: Three Questions with Edwin Colon
Edwin Colon is the senior pastor of the Recovery House of Worship in Brooklyn, which has planted five churches across the United States and will soon launch a ministry in London. The church started in his kitchen and embraces a community of those recovering from addiction from all walks of life.
CTC asked him a few questions about his unique ministry.
CTC: What do you think is the greatest misconception about the kind of ministry that you do?
Edwin Colon: That’s the easiest question in the world. The greatest misconception is that those who are affluent or seemingly put together don’t desperately need a church like ours.
There are two types of people who will come to our church. There are people who come to our church and, philosophically, they’ll agree with what we’re doing, but they’ll see themselves as outside of it. They’ll say, “Oh my gosh, it’s so good that you’re serving those people and you’re loving those people. They don’t recognize that they’re those people.
The greatest misconception is that those who are affluent or seemingly put together don’t desperately need a church like ours.
If we talked right now and I dug deep enough—whether it was you or your pastor or anyone else—if we talked enough, you would tell me what you struggle with. It would look an awful like an addiction. Of course, that’s your idol.
The Recovery House of Worship is an idol-killing machine. It’s what we want to do. The misconception is that you, yourself, are not an addict, and that you don’t struggle with something, right now this second, that you don’t want anybody to know. [Something] that rears its ugly head every three months, every six years, every four days, whatever it is, but it comes back. You relapse into it and it’s, “Oh my goodness.”
Yeah, so that’s number one.
Then number two is that if you finally do get clean and you do get sober, then you want to go to a regular church where it’s less messy. It’s from one side or the other. It’s the same conclusion.
CTC: Is there an aspect of the gospel that God has used this ministry to reveal to you?
Edwin Colon: Here at The Recovery House of Worship we get to see the mercy of God in ways that I wouldn’t have been able to see if I didn’t serve here. We see the mercy. As we serve this ministry, I’ve literally been homeless twice. Once for two years and another time for eight months. My family and I, we were homeless serving the homeless.
I remember the very first day our family was homeless. We had another homeless guy share his pillow and his bed sheets, pillow cover, and a blanket with us. A homeless guy. I just don’t know… I’m a really proud person. I need to beg Jesus to make me more humble. I don’t know that I would’ve seen the kind of mercy and the kind of generosity and the kind of beauty where it almost feels like shame, but in the most beautiful way. I don’t know if shame can be beautiful, but it just humbles you deeply.
It humbles you deeply to know that, there’s no question in my mind, I’m the worst person in this room. It doesn’t matter what room I’m in. I see God’s mercy displayed in profound ways in the people that we serve that I don’t know. I mean, I’ve had hungry people share meals with me. I’ve had mentally unstable people give me wonderful counsel. I’ve had homeless people give me bed coverings for my kids. That’s so unique to Recovery House of Worship in such a crazy beautiful, gloriously beautiful way that I don’t know how I would have seen it any other way.
CTC: If you could recommend that people read, watch or listen to something to understand your ministry approach, what would it be?
Edwin Colon: Okay. There would probably be two books that I would recommend. One is Orlando Costas, Christ Outside the Gate. That is not something that you will find in most seminaries. He is a liberation theologian, and because of that, most people will never read him. Read that book and try not to weep.
Then of course, a book like The Prodigal God. I think that the insights that I’ve gotten from Pastor Keller and Redeemer into the gospel have absolutely, completely, and utterly revolutionized the way I do ministry, the way I preach. The way I do discipleship.
I listened to one of his sermons going home. I probably listen to five or six of his sermons a week. I don’t preach unless I’ve listened to either him or some other hero. There’s some other great preachers that I listen to, but that gospel centered bent — it’s saved my life. That’s not an exaggeration. It saved this ministry. Those are two books that you must read, or you’re going to miss out a lot.
For more on Edwin Colon’s ministry to those in recovery, see our article highlighting his ministry, “When God Interrupts.”