A different kind of Christian


Only the steps should go down instead of up.

I am firmly convinced, now, more than ever, that the 12-step program as originally adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous, is closer to capturing the true essence of a Christian’s attitude and relationship to God Alcoholics Anonymous and to others than anything taught or modeled in our Christian churches at least in my lifetime. If all Christians were 12-step Christians, all of the ugly traits that have wrapped themselves around Christianity in this culture in the last 40 years would never have come about.

Things like pride, self-righteousness, judgmental attitudes, anger and overbearing assertiveness would never have had a chance to even sow their seeds in churches and Christian organizations had Christians all been recovering sinners in humble fellowship rather than “holy” saints in God’s faux army marching against everything we don’t like about the world.

Recovering sinners have not a judgmental bone in their bodies, since they are so overwhelmingly conscious of their own sinfulness and lack of self control. Recovering sinners have had all pride and self-righteousness stripped away through coming to the full realization of their own helplessness and inability to change themselves. Recovering sinners have nothing to be angry about since they are so full of gratitude for the grace and undeserving favor bestowed on them by God along with the knowledge that this grace and favor has already been extended to every person on the planet whether they know it or not. Blame is nowhere in the mind or the vocabulary of a 12-step Christian. With no one to blame, there is no one to be mad at. The only legitimate anger for a recovering sinner is anger towards Satan and evil, but that is warfare in a spiritual realm beyond our control.

It is for this reason that we at the Catch are going to embark on a 12-week study of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. It will be a reorienting of our priorities and attitudes and will set us up to be a different kind of Christian — one that the world desperately needs to see, now that the judgmental, self-righteous, ungrateful, pushy Christian is so firmly entrenched in the culture’s consciousness. And in doing so, we will be well-suited to be carriers of the true gospel of welcome — grace turned outward.

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19 Responses to A different kind of Christian

  1. Rick Gillespie says:

    Great Idea! I attend Mass every Sunday and for 16 months I attended an AA meeting with a friend on Mondays. Great people voluntarily confessing our sins, humbling ourselves, lifting up others-I have to say that I was REALLY in “church” on Mondays.

  2. Carole Oglesbee says:

    YAY!!! Ever since my own introduction to the 12 steps half a million years ago, I have been convinced they are not just for drunks and drug addicts, but are, without exception, for EVERYONE. Bill W MUST have been inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the Big Book, and for anyone who embarks on this journey (and it is one that takes a lifetime), you will soon realize that whatever it is that brings you to the end of yourself, while Satan intends it for evil, God will, and is, using it for good that many might be saved.

    • Sandie says:

      Carole – I believe I’ve read that originally, AA was a Christ-based idea and program – which is why it so closely echoes John’s 12 Steps for a Recovering Pharisee – Like Me.The only way those 12 Steps can work to their fullest is if it starts at the cross.

      • Carole Oglesbee says:

        Exactly, Sandie. My first copy of the Big Book has my scripture notes thruout that correspond to the steps, and in my Bible, I wrote the step by the scripture (I sort of made my own concordance, if you will). One neat thing about God is that His principles WORK, even if one is not a Believer- that just goes to show how incredibly faithful our God is! Having said that, almost everyone I know in the Program has, fairly early on, come to the realization that their “Higher Power” is Christ. He’s actually kind of hard to miss.

  3. Greg Engelman says:

    Have you heard of Celebrate Recovery??? My church has been doing this program for almost 12 years now.Its from Rick Warren at Saddle Back Church. It places GOD and scripture as your supreme power. Same steps, just places GOD where he should be.

    • Mark D Seguin says:

      Dear brother Greg, just to help inform u Pastor John may have surely heard of the Celebrate Recovery, seeing how he once worked / wrote devotions for Rick Warren at Saddle Back Church.
      PS may I plz suggest picking up John’s great book: “12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me)”

      • Mike Myers says:

        I love that book! I actually own a few copies. I was planning a “Recovering Pharisee” bible study using John’s book. One of my favorite reads!

  4. WAyne O says:

    Remember it is not a “Religious organization” it is a spiritual one.

  5. Neil says:

    What a terrific idea! I know this is semantics but… You’re describing a “recovered dinner” not a “recovering sinner”… Of course there are no recovered sinners in this world only ones that desperately want to be…

    • jwfisch says:

      Agreed, Neil. The important thing is that we are talking about recover”ing” sinners, not recovered sinners. One is past tense, which doesn’t work since sin is not only in the past, but recovering since it is a present perfect, continually happening verb.

  6. dierama1 says:

    Thanks for your good words John!
    We are all humans trying to understand how to follow Jesus two commandments 1. love &surrender to God, 2. love and serve others! They sound great but are hard to actually do. The 12 steps that you suggest would be great to help us/me to BE. We/I love to DO things that are religious practices, it is easier to perform them and feel like we have accomplished something for God. It is harder to actually be the people that Jesus calls us to Be.

  7. Mark D Seguin says:

    Another great Catch Pastor John! I say that, because as u & your gorgeous wife, Marti may remember I believe have mentioned before, since my stroke & being one handed. Because of that it often can be very frustrating, so I swear to greatly help my relief.
    I mention that, because where I live we have & are blessed to have a local (Holiness) Pastor & his family & friend’s come in on Wednesday’s morning to have a Church service. I mentioned to this small group (2 or 3 elderly ladies, him, his wife and a few other that I think / believe live @ the Church’s house) asking prayers 4 my swearing…
    I can relate to Rick’s & Carole’s post in that of real people – not those that act that of being a Christians! Anyway’s after I asked 4 this prayer…
    He said to me, “…back when I was a new believer someone told me: you need to try to be a Christian,until u become one.” Which instantaneously I thought, OK. We’re on two differing thoughts here! But DIDN’T say anything…. Just let it go… 🙂
    PS he’s is a Holiness preacher – any suggestions?

    • jwfisch says:

      Trying to be anything spiritual is not going to get you anywhere. Failing at it will get you much closer as you discover that everything comes from God and nothing comes from us.

  8. Sandie says:

    Funny that I just began reading this book, “They Like Jesus But Not The Church.” There’s much about Jesus those that seek admire and aspire to…but not so much the church.Too many of those seeking Christ find judgment and criticism at the hands of believers all too eager to condemn and push them aside…all the while forgetting they are sinners saved by grace, and continually being rescued by that grace every day. It’s been a long time since I’ve attended a church service, and to be honest I don’t miss it or feel compelled to find a church. Sad to say, I’ve found more “church” and what it should stand for among the bikers and teens I used to have a ministry with. There I experienced honesty, respect, acceptance and affirmation. One pastor told me, “if I had a closer walk with Jesus, I wouldn’t be so broken up” by the death’s of some of the teens I knew. Another told me, “You see too much.” Too bad he couldn’t ‘see’ more! You are right in saying that if all believers were truly following the 12 steps, the church would be about “the Father’s business.” Instead we stay in our self-made bubble and look down our noses at those not deemed worthy enough to be on the inside. Sounds like a Pharisee to me. Thank God I took a pin to my part of that bubble years ago – it started when I first heard you sing Lord Of The Dance and read your book Real Christians Dance! Now I’m on the outside of that bubble, sticking pins in it from the outside trying to rescue someone, anyone. I must take care though, that I don’t fall prey to the same trap from a different perspective.When will Christians understand that ‘to love’ means to accept and respect others because of “the image of God” in their being? You know, like Jesus did, and still does for all of us? But you cannot give what you have not received, and you can’t receive until you kneel at His feet, broken and without pretense.

  9. peter leenheer says:

    Due to God’s prompting I attended a Celebrate recovery meeting. Having never been a drug addict, an alcoholic, a gambler, or a sexual predator it seemed I had nothing to share at one of these meetings. Boy was I in for a surprise!! It took me two sessions to confess all my sins….procrastination, arrogance, judgmentalism, violent temper, charming but using it inappropriately, micromanaging boss, perfectionist, etc….and made me realize that what I had recovered from was definitely something to celebrate. Unfortunately repentance requires and ongoing commitment because temptation by the Devil become more intense the more one becomes like Jesus. Yet with the Holy Spirit’s help there is an improvement in my spiritual life that I cherish and will maintain and improve through prayer, praise and thanksgiving.

    Every morning I celebrate my continuing recovery…Wow, God is Good, All the time!!!!

    I am looking forward to how John will develop this 12 step program, and will love to participate in it. It is better to focus on God and our relationship with Him than pointing the finger at all the sinners around me. The beam in my own eye requires life time attention.

  10. lindastapleton7 says:

    So how do we take part in this. Will it be live on FB? What time, please?

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