Welcome, Namaste, Peace, Shalom

Welcome, Namaste, Peace, Shalom, Benedicite. May the peace of the Lord always be with you.

Annapurna (Goddess of the Harvests) range, Nepal. Machapuchare, Fishtail Mountain, sacred to Shiva and never climbed.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Sinners Anonymous

by Don Stott on Reel Worship
My idea of applying the 12 step ideas to church is not original. A friend sent me these links;



Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn and Matthew Linn look at a version of the 12 steps in their book ‘Belonging :Bonds of Healing and Recovery’ (ISBN 9780809133659)

Someone in the comments section of the second blog suggested a 12 step church could call itself ‘sinners anonymous’. Hence the title of this post.

The other interesting thing about the telling secrets blog post is that it focuses more on the 12 traditions than the 12 steps. The steps are a personal route to wholeness and healing. The traditions are a way of organising the affairs of the group and the wider organisation.

I have come to believe that the problems of the institutional churches are rooted deep in their organisational structures. Church people complain that "they", the 'unchurched',  just want baptisms, weddings, funerals, Christmas and Nativity Plays, Harvest Festivals etc, believing without belonging. 

Someone very involved in Alpha courses once said to me that despite all the numbers attending Alpha over the years, regular church congregations had not increased. 

I don't think it is  Jesus or God or belonging that people are rejecting, it is our church structures and the behaviours which these produce which do not model the ideals preached.  These only seem to appeal to a small section of the population.   Perhaps people are quietly adopting the 12 step advice of 'take what you like and leave the rest'. 

There's lots of stuff going on in churches about new ways of doing/being church, attracting the 'unchurched' and 'spiritual questers'.  But at the heart of all these is a firm set of boundaries and authority structures set by the established church.  I keep getting this sense that Christians are talking to each other in their churches, but no-one outside is listening or cares about what they are talking about. The language is often impenetrable and incomprehensible. I realised recently that I couldn’t be bothered trying to understand it anymore. There are better ways to spend my time. God doesn’t seem that bothered.

In the rooms of the 12 step fellowships people talk about their knowledge and love of God or their ‘Higher Power’ and how he/she/it saves, guides, strengthens and comforts them, all in the ordinary language of everyday life. They talk about how they live their daily lives under the guidance of their Higher Power. They talk intimately and movingly about their spiritual lives, their character defects and how they are overcoming these. God doesn’t seem to mind being called HP. It is gritty, authentic, powerful and humbling.

Why don’t we just do it? Cut through all these Gordian knots of church structures, finances, rules and regulations, prohibitions, and get on with meeting and praying together. Worshipping and encouraging each other. As the 12 steppers put it:

“Sharing our experience, strength and hope”.

姒儿喵喵 on flickr

Why don’t all those people who want to love God and follow Jesus just start their own groups and meet together? It is not difficult. Jesus said - Matthew 18:20 - "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

Enough for now. Next post 12 traditions for a church.

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