In 1991, at the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, the Celebrate Recovery movement was born. Motivated by his own troubled history with alcoholism, the Celebrate Recovery founder John Baker embarked on a journey to create an alcohol recovery program that allowed its members to directly walk with Christ.
You may be familiar with the original 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. However, you may be less familiar with the 12 steps of Celebrate Recovery, which are derived from the original 12 steps but incorporate aspects of scripture with each teaching.
Here’s what you need to know about the 12 Steps of Celebrate Recovery and how they inform the Celebrate Recovery Program.
What Are the 12 Steps of Celebrate Recovery?
If you are at all familiar with the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, then you will recognize the 12 steps that follow. However, borrowed from the official Celebrate Recovery website, these steps are paired with biblical scripture, and they take on more context if you are looking to view your experience of recovery through a Christian lens.
Step 1 of Celebrate Recovery
We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.
For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Romans 7:18 NIV
Step 2 of Celebrate Recovery
We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:13 NIV
Step 3 of Celebrate Recovery
We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1 NIV
Step 4 of Celebrate Recovery
We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. Lamentations 3:40 NIV
Step 5 of Celebrate Recovery
We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16a NIV
Step 6 of Celebrate Recovery
We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10 NIV
Step 7 of Celebrate Recovery
We humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 NIV
Step 8 of Celebrate Recovery
We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31 NIV
Step 9 of Celebrate Recovery
We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24 NIV
Step 10 of Celebrate Recovery
We continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Corinthians 10:12
Step 11 of Celebrate Recovery
We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God praying only for knowledge of His will for us, and power to carry that out.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Colossians 3:16a NIV
Step 12 of Celebrate Recovery
Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and practice these principles in all our affairs.
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore them gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1 NIV
Putting the 12 Steps of Celebrate Recovery into Perspective
As a person walks through the above 12 steps, they are taken on a journey that begins with complete surrender and recognition of their powerlessness against the hold of alcoholism or another form of addictive behavior. The 12 steps are not exclusive to alcohol use disorders—in Celebrate Recovery, a person may be embarking on a 12-step journey to break free from any number of influences in their life, including reliance on food, cigarettes, or unhealthy relationships. After their initial surrender, a Celebrate Recovery participant then puts his or her trust fully into the hands of God. This reliance on a power greater than oneself can be transformative, and it can help a person continue forward with the next part of the program, which is self-examination. During self-examination, a person must comprehensively evaluate their past, and their actions, particularly when it comes to how an addictive behavior or substance abuse has influenced their actions.
After creating a detailed moral inventory, a participant then confronts their past head-on, admits they were wrong, and humbles themselves before the Lord, asking the Lord to remove their shortcomings. Similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, the next part of the program is seeking out and making amends with the people who were impacted by a person’s negative behaviors. This invokes the classic biblical phrase from the gospel of Luke, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” After making amends, a participant pledges to continue seeking out their own shortcomings and addressing them in the moment. They strive to be constantly connected with God as they move forward. In the final part of the program, participants vow to take what they have learned by transcending through the 12 steps and use it to help others in the same recovery journey.
How the 12 Steps Guide Step Studies
The 12 Steps of Celebrate Recovery are not simply a static text. Instead, they form the backbone of the Step Study program, in which members of Celebrate Recovery take a personal journey to focus on each step in detail. A Step Study group is confidential, and it is led by someone who has already completed his or her own Step Study program so that they can serve as a mentor and lend their personal experience and wisdom. A Step Study program can take 6 to 9 months to complete, as everyone works through the steps at their own pace. Participants usually meet once weekly, and the meetings are gender-specific, according to the official Celebrate Recovery Website.
Other Critical Teachings Within the Celebrate Recovery Movement
In addition to the 12 Steps of Celebrate Recovery, other critical teachings guide participants on their journey of recovery from addictive behaviors. When the founder of Celebrate Recovery, John Baker, first created the program, he dreamt of pairing the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous with biblical scripture. However, he also believed that a more holistic program would also incorporate the teachings of Jesus Christ from the Sermon on the Mount—known as the 8 Beatitudes—as well as the Serenity Prayer.
John Baker believed that these three teachings together would form the structure for an effective Christ-led recovery program.
What Are the 8 Beatitudes?
According to John Baker, the 8 Beatitudes lay out God’s vision for a road to recovery from addictive behaviors. For this reason, they are also known as the eight recovery principles.
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 (Step 1).
“Happy are those who know that they are spiritually poor.” Matthew 5:3a TEV
Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover (Step 2).
“Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 TEV, NIV
Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control (Step 3).
“Happy are the meek.” Matthew 5:5a TEV
Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust (Steps 4 and 5).
“Happy are the pure in heart.” Matthew 5:8a TEV
Voluntarily submit to any and all changes God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects (Steps 6 and 7).
“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires” Matthew 5:6a TEV
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 (Steps 8 and 9).
“Happy are the merciful.” Matthew 5:7a TEV; “Happy are the peacemakers” Matthew 5:9 TEV
Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will (Steps 10 and 11).
Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and my words (Step 12).
“Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires.” Matthew 5:10 TEV
What Is the Serenity Prayer?
The Serenity Prayer guides Celebrate Recovery participants through a thoughtful reflection about how they can manage the hardships of their own lives, while walking in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did,
this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You forever in the next.
The Impact of the Celebrate Recovery Program and the 12 Steps of Celebrate Recovery
The Celebrate Recovery program had humble beginnings; however, it has grown from its initial meeting of 43 people to have a presence in 35,000 churches worldwide. The Celebrate Recovery program has helped millions of people with substance use disorders or other addictive behaviors learn how to lean on Jesus Christ to break the cycle of addiction. In fact, according to the Celebrate Recovery website, 5 million people have entered the Step Studies program, in which they embark upon the progressive journey to learning more about the individual 12 steps of Celebrate Recovery.
The Power of the 12 Steps of Celebrate Recovery
If you are a person who has a connection with Jesus Christ, or who is seeking to strengthen that connection, the Celebrate Recovery program can help you grow in your spirituality and cure yourself of any hurts, hang-ups, or habits. Nurturing your spiritual side can have a positive impact on your ability to change your behaviors. Research has shown that the more that you can increase your spiritual confidence, the more you may even be able to resist substance abuse. You can use the Celebrate Recovery 12 Steps as a helpful way to provide structure as you progress along your journey of spiritual confidence.
Finding Support for Substance Use Disorders Through a Celebrate Recovery Meeting
The Celebrate Recovery program is not for everyone. However, if you consider yourself to be a religious person and you would like a Christ-centered approach to recovery from addiction, then you may find that the Celebrate Recovery program is a perfect match.
You can find a Celebrate Recovery group in your area using this meeting locator tool to help you search by zip code or state, and filter by the resources that you need.