There are many types of 12-Step programs—some spiritual and others secular.
If Christian faith is instrumental for your sobriety, you may be interested in Celebrate Recovery.
While traditional 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) refer to a higher power in their tenets and practices, Celebrate Recovery is a “Christ-centered program for anyone struggling with hurt, pain, or addiction of any kind.”
The History of Celebrate Recovery
In 1991, John Baker was a congregant of the Saddleback Church, located in Lake Forest, California. He approached Pastor Rick Warren about the concept for Celebrate Recovery, and Warren encouraged him to give it a go.
Baker formed Celebrate Recovery’s principles based on eight statements from Jesus Christ. Known to Christians as the Beatitudes found in the Bible—as conveyed by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount—Baker believed individuals suffering through life’s trials could use these statements to find a pathway predetermined by God for “wholeness, growth, and spiritual maturity.”
At the first meeting for Celebrate Recovery (CR), there were 43 people. Today, the organization states more than 5 million people have participated in its 12-Step program called a Step Study.
As the ministry grew, so did the options. One aspect of the program is Open Share Groups, divided into specialized concerns such as men’s and women’s chemical dependency, food addiction, promiscuity, mental illness, and other broad-based issues. These groups all follow the same CR tenets.
How Celebrate Recovery Works
The eight statements form the spiritual foundation for someone who uses this program to support their sobriety. They correspond with CR’s 12-Steps for daily living.
Here they are, verbatim, along with the original Beatitudes:
- (Step 1) 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. “Happy are those who know that they are spiritually poor.” Matthew 5:3a TEV
- (Step 2) Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover. “Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 TEV, NIV
- (Step 3) Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control. “Happy are the meek.” Matthew 5:5a TEV
- (Steps 4 and 5) Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust. “Happy are the pure in heart.” Matthew 5:8a TEV
- (Steps 6 and 7) Voluntarily submit to any and all changes God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects. “Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires” Matthew 5:6a TEV
- (Steps 8 and 9) Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others when possible, except when to do so would harm them or others. “Happy are the merciful.” Matthew 5:7a TEV; “Happy are the peacemakers” Matthew 5:9 TEV
- (Steps 10 and 11) 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.
- (Step 12) Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and my words. “Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires.” Matthew 5:10 TEV
CR also incorporates the full Serenity Prayer into its support system.
For some people who tried AA, NA, or other conventional 12-Step programs, the CR approach might look similar. Yet while these groups may surrender to a “higher power,” CR specifically follows Christian guidelines and a biblically-based philosophy.
The overall intent of CR is to:
- Help people understand the purpose of personal responsibility.
- Encourage participants to let go of the past to focus on the future.
- Introduce or renew a dedication to Jesus.
- Move people into ministry.
People have a large group meeting, then move into Open Share small groups. A family-friendly dinner often precedes the large group meeting, which includes praise and worship. The Open Share small groups gather afterward. Small groups may be gender-specific or issue-specific. People who want to try the program attend Newcomers 101 sessions their first week.
Although the majority of CR ministry outreach is in churches, the program is also in numerous prisons, rescue centers, after-school children and teen classes, and other locations. Find one near you.
Choosing What Works for You
Some people say CR isn’t following scripture closely enough. Others feel the program is “too pushy” and tries to sell a lot of stuff. Not everyone agrees that religion should be a part of recovery, while others are looking for a spiritual 12-Step program that’s not centered on Christianity.
Ultimately, it’s up to an individual to determine whether a particular type of aftercare program and other tools help him or her avoid relapse and live a life with renewed purpose. Often, many people discover anchoring themselves with a spiritual foundation provides support for these goals.
Find Group Support Through Willingway
If you attend Willingway’s Continuing Care Community Groups, you’ll receive the benefit of therapeutic fellowship, authentic interaction, hope, and access to resources designed to help you choose what works best for your journey.