Sunday, August 07, 2016

How 12-Step Groups Reach the Unchurched with God's Love

I'm watching someone close to me struggle with addiction. I'm grateful for 12-Step programs because they may be the only place that an unchurched person with that kind of need will ever hear about the love of God. Here are some ways that they reach out:
  1. They refuse to engage in divisive controversies so that meeting time can be unifying, and used for edifying. Their dogmas about the nature of God (which they would not call dogmas) are limited to the ones that would foster health and recovery in their members.
  2. They meet a felt need.
  3. They actively seek to enable people to improve the quality of their lives and their conscious contact with God.
  4. They take seriously the need to talk about our struggles, and to gain wisdom from listening to others who have had the same struggles.
  5. They value vulnerability in sharing about mistakes, and set up guidelines to prevent that vulnerability from being used as anything other than a bridge to someone who can relate, and a growth lesson.
  6. They take seriously the value of people understanding their own life stories, how their lives take shape, how they can recognize what things are under their control, and how they can transform their own lives through knowing God and serving others.
  7. They take seriously the value of spiritual direction, generally called "sponsorship" in those groups.
  8. They have a large number of seasoned spiritual directors (sponsors). They also have a growing collection of spiritual exercises that are designed to help people through real-world problems such as resentments, a tendency to isolate from other people, difficulty praying, anger at God, repairing relationships, etc.
  9. They take seriously the desire for spiritual growth.
  10. They take seriously the benefits of spiritual growth to the person who is growing and to the community as a whole.
  11. They take seriously the need to define a meaningful goal and offer steps by which someone might reach that goal.
  12. They offer both broad guidelines for developing and recognizing growth, and a personal flexibility in what it might take to achieve them.
  13. They hold each person accountable for growth, while offering compassion for shortcomings and support for the growth process.
  14. They recognize that the 'more advanced' members, including spiritual directors, often need reminding of basic things and provide tools to help with that.


Martin LaBar said...

Sounds good.

Weekend Fisher said...

Thank you for the encouragement.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF