Celebrate Recovery launched in 1991 at Saddleback Church in California. At that time Pastor John Baker , author of Life’s Healing Choices, envisioned a recovery program that followed the structure of Alcoholics Anonymous yet identified AA’s “Higher Power” as Jesus Christ and depended strongly on Biblical principles. Although Baker did not envision himself at the head of that program, Pastor Rick Warren (author of The Purpose Driven Life) did. Now, twenty years later, with the leadership of John Baker Celebrate Recovery has spread to all fifty states and Australia.
More than Substance Abuse Recovery
Although many of those who enter Celebrate Recovery to find freedom from their addictions struggle with substance abuse (alcohol or, illegal or prescription drugs) others seek freedom from a range of other physical or emotional addictions. Celebrate Recovery does not distinguish one “hurt, habit or hang-up” from another. On any given night in any Celebrate Recovery you will find people fighting the battle (and winning) against food or sugar addiction, perfectionism, anxiety, co-dependence, love and relationship addiction, shopping addiction, approval addiction, sex addiction, porn addiction, etc. And if you aren’t quite sure what the true cause of your life struggles may be Celebrate Recovery offers a safe, confidential, supportive place for you to dig deeper toward the root of your “hurt, habit or hang-up”
The Celebrate Recovery Structure
Regardless of where and when a Celebrate Recovery meeting takes place the structure, guidelines and expectations are the same. Each Celebrate Recovery will begin with a meal that is followed by a large group meeting which includes worship and a short teaching. The Open Share groups follow large group. Open Share groups are gender specific, meaning men and women attend separate groups. As each independent Celebrate Recovery ministry grows Open Share groups will become issue specific also. However, each group follows the same steps, guidelines and expectations regardless of the issue. This structure maintains the integrity of the recovery process even when it is necessary to combine issues within one group as often occurs when a Celebrate Recovery ministry is initially launched. The only deviation from this structure occurs when a person visits Celebrate Recovery for the first time. Before a person may enter an open share meeting they are asked to visit Newcomer’s 101 which introduces all newcomers to the structure, guidelines, expectations and mission of Celebrate Recovery. If a person visits a new Celebrate Recovery location but has completed Newcomer’s 101 at another Celebrate Recovery, then they are not required to attend Newcomer’s 101 again. Following the Open Share group time everyone meets back together for coffee and dessert at Solid Rock.
Step Study meetings take place on a separate evening and are for people who want to dig in and move through their recovery in a more intimate and open way with others who also attend Celebrate Recovery. Each Step Study group begins in the first of four workbooks that take group members through the 12 steps in an intentional manner. Although in Open Share groups participation is not required, in the Step Study group each person in attendance is expected to read aloud their responses to the questions provided in the workbooks.
The Celebrate Recovery 12 Steps and 8 Principles
The Celebrate Recovery program is guided by eight Biblical principles each having an associated scripture taken from the Beatitudes which Jesus spoke in The Sermon on the Mount found in the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. These 8 principles are also related to one or more of the 12 steps which originated with Alcoholics Anonymous. At the beginning of every Celebrate Recovery large group, open share and step study meeting the 8 principles are read along with the scriptures and a notation of which of the 12 steps are related to each principle. The 8 principles and related scriptures are as follows:
1. Realize I’m not God; I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and my life is unmanageable.
“Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor.” Matthew 5:3 (Step One)
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 (Step Two)
3. Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control.
“Happy are the meek. “Matthew 5:5 (Step Three)
4. Openly examine and confess my faults to God, to myself and to another person whom I trust.
“Happy are the pure in heart.” Matthew 5:8 (Steps Four and Five)
5. Voluntarily submit to any and all changes God wants to make in my life.
“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.” Matthew 5:6 (Steps Six & Seven)
6. 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 doing so would harm them or others.
“Happy are the merciful” Matthew 5:7 “Happy are the peacemakers” Matthew 5:9 (Steps Eight & Nine)
7. Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His work for my life and gain the power to follow His will. (Steps Ten & Eleven)
8. Yield myself to be used by God to bring this good news to others, both by my example and by my words.
“Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires.” Matthew 5:10 (Step Twelve)
Find a Celebrate Recovery near You
If you or someone you know wants to make a change in their lives you can find a Celebrate Recovery group near you by going to the Celebrate Recovery website at www.celebraterecovery.com.
Baker, J. (1998) Getting right with God, yourself and others: Participant’s guide 3. Grand Rapids Michigan. Zondervan.
Celebreate Recovery (2007)Advanced leadership training seminar. United States.