Three Taverns Church

12-Step Groups: The Way Church Was Meant To Be?


Sometimes I wish my church was more like my 12-Step group.

People are ‘real’ in my group; they don’t wear masks and they are never ‘fine’. My group’s members show up because they know they are sinners in desperate need of healing and salvation, not because it makes them popular with a subset of society. They show up because they want to, not because they have to or are expected to.  People in my group study Scripture as if their lives depended on it, because they do. All the group positions are filled by volunteers; there are no paid positions. In my group if someone is behaving inappropriately they get called on it, quickly but gracefully; people don’t politely ignore sin because they are afraid to cause trouble. Conversely, the men in my group mind their own business and focus on their own relationships with God; they don’t worry about other guys’ programs of recovery. In my group there are rules of conduct that are adhered to by all; no one gets special treatment or license. No one is judged by his race, age, socio-economic status, job title, level of education, or sexual orientation; we are just sinners in need of a savior.

I believe that 12-Step groups are effective at empowering people because they exist on the fringes of society like the earliest followers of “the Way”. Some people say true Christianity died the day it became the official religion of Rome; when it moved away from the fringe toward the center of the greatest empire on earth. When I compare my church to my 12-Step group, I have to wonder if those people are right.

What do you think?

6 thoughts on “12-Step Groups: The Way Church Was Meant To Be?

  1. You know if you ask, I’m gonna answer! I’ll be brief, your group sound like the kind of people I’d prefer to be around. Supportive, transparent and honest. The church sadly is so big that it’s terrified of losing its status. Why are so many peadophiles hidden away instead of exposed in the church? One last thing: there are NO sinners! We are all human and imperfect. We’re all doing the best from where we are.

    • Hey stuartart, thanks for the great comment! The church sometimes reminds me of the American banking system…”too big to fail”..which, by the way, is not a phrase I believe in. The longer we keep the ‘modern model’ of church on life support, the more of a price the church will pay as we move into a post-modern, post-Christian world. Also, I of course disagree with your commen that there are no sinners…theologically speaking we are all sinners…but we are also all human and imperfect and I agree that despite (or perhaps because of?) our various levels and layers of denial we are doing the best we can. I think the key is to acknowledge our denial and imperfection so that we can begin to be changed by God.

  2. I think we’ve done a tragically effective job of redefining church in our culture.

  3. A beautiful headline, I cried in laughter with how much I identify with it.
    I have’nt yet read the post, I just found this blog 2 minutes ago. I’m half way through step 1 and in shock over some self realizations of denial it has brought about. And yes, I do believe it is very close to how church is “supposed” to be.
    Thank you.

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