Twelve Step addiction recovery.
For those who aren't familiar with the Twelve Steps, here they are...
- We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.
- We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God.
- We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- We humbly asked him to remove all our shortcomings.
- We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Now imagine gathering in a place where these twelve steps are being actively worked by everyone in the room. Some are on step one and others have completed all twelve steps many times over. Some are just coming to grips with the devastation sin has wrought in their lives and others are living free from the grip of sin.
Those who have experienced healing, restoration, forgiveness and contact with God are readily available day or night for those just starting the journey. When they gather testimonies of recovery are given by those who are further along encouraging those just starting out to stick with the challenge. Everyone is not only encouraged but expected to find a sponsor. The sponsor commits to walking the new person through the steps. Sponsors agree to be available by phone or in person anytime those they sponsor need to talk. Often this is on a daily basis.
Everyone in recovery not only acknowledges that they are sinners generally, they announce in detail the particular sins that afflict them and discuss the damage that sin has done in their lives and relationships. This is especially important for those leading the recovery program. On a weekly basis men gather with other men and women with other women so that they can talk in detail about their struggles and be encouraged by one another. On separate occasions gender specific groups gather to walk together through the twelve steps.
And in a Christian recovery program like the one started at Saddleback Church in California called Celebrate Recovery, all of this activity is steeped in Scripture, wrapped in prayer and focused on Jesus as the only higher power.
Compare this to your experience of church.
- When was the last time your pastor and church leaders stood up and enumerated the sin with which they struggle, especially the persistent sin behavior most common for them?
- Who has your church intentionally connected you to that can walk you daily through the process of dealing with sin, difficulties, conflicts and tough decisions and is always available for a phone call or personal visit...day or night?
- How often are newcomers invited to openly share their shortcomings, defects of character, sin and struggles by following the example of everyone else in the room who is doing the same thing?
- When, in the course of the weekly gathering, do men and women get to meet separately so they can share details of their struggles and celebrate their successes?
Recovery invites people into one-on-one relationships with those who can lead you through the process. It insists on fearless honesty with people you trust and in detail. It draws you out of yourself through a healing process of surrender to God. It moves you to serve others in the same way you've been served.
In addition to the Twelve Steps imagine if every week you attended a church that rigorously practiced these Eight Principles articulated for Celebrate Recovery by Pastor Rick Warren.
- Realize I'm not God. I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable.
- Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to him, and that he has the power to help me recover.
- Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ's care and control.
- Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust.
- Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask him to remove my character defects.
- Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I've done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.
- Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and his will for my life and to gain the power to follow his will.
- Yield myself to God to be used to bring this good news to others, both by my example and by my words.
I'm convinced church would change dramatically if this model were followed. And there's no need to guess at what it looks like since there are Celebrate Recovery meetings happening every week all over the world. Check it out...the church of the future could be awesome if it looked like this.