Celebrate Recovery bills itself as a Christ-centered 12-step program.
It started in California in 1991, when founder John Baker had a vision. “We are all broken. We have all sinned. … We are all struggling with a hurt, habit or hang-up,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1999. He wanted the church to serve as a “safe place” for people to find and accept Christ’s healing power.
Fast forward to the present: there are now 35,000 Celebrate Recovery locations dotting the globe. Most are in churches, but members also meet in prisons, recovery houses, rescue missions, and universities. Kits with workbooks and other materials are available for any group wanting to start their own chapter.
About one-third of Celebrate Recovery’s members are there for drug or alcohol addiction. People struggling with other issues are welcome, too, including:
John Baker has said he was inspired to start Celebrate Recovery after being judged for talking about his higher power, namely Jesus Christ, at the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings he’d been attending.
AA still provides a valuable framework for Celebrate Recovery, however. Celebrate Recovery incorporates AA’s 12 steps into its own program, but has added eight principles that come from Jesus’s Beatitudes. For example, it includes the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5:3-12: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” and so on.
Since the clinical aspect of recovery is primarily secular, including spirituality appeals to many people. Pew Research found 63% of U.S. adults describe themselves as both religious and spiritual.
Newcomers to Celebrate Recovery first attend an orientation meeting to get a bigger picture of the program. There, they can also ask questions.
Typically, members go to a weekly group meeting, which then breaks down into smaller clusters that address specific concerns. That’s considered a safe space to open up and share.
After a while, members will join a separate step study, where they can dive deeper into their pasts and examine the choices they’ve made. There are also programs for children (Celebration Place) and teens (The Landing).
According to Celebrate Recovery, more than 5 million people have completed these step studies.
People have said that part of the appeal of Celebrate Recovery is that it doesn’t try to fix them. Instead it offers emotional support and unconditional love throughout the recovery process.
- latimes.com - 12 Steps, Christian Style
- usatoday.com - Program Helps Heal ‘Hurts, Hang-Ups and Habits’
- celebraterecovery.com - Celebrate Recovery’s Eight Recovery Principles
- pewresearch.org - More Americans Now Say They’re Spiritual But Not Religious
- djournal.com - Celebrate Recovery Program Starts in Myrtle