12 Steps for Christians in Recovery

Group Prayer at a Bible Study Group
12-Step Groups for Christians. Don Hammond / Getty Images

Dale S. Ryan thought he knew a great deal about spirituality, after all, he was a Christian who had a Ph.D. and was a graduate theology student. Then he walked into a 12 step meeting.

"I don't get it. Why do they make graduate students come here? I don't see how I'm going to learn anything about God from these people," he thought to himself. "They don't seem to be very educated. They certainly don't know as much about theology as I do."

"I have never been more wrong about anything in my life," Ryan realized.

Learn the Fundamentals

On his website, Ryan talks about the awakening that he had as a result of his first encounter with the 12 steps: "In spite of all my education and my pretensions to be past the basics, I didn't have a clue about how to have a healthy relationship with a Higher Power. I knew a lot of theology. But I lived in spiritual shame."

I have come to believe that there really is no spiritual graduate school for Christians. The spiritual life, at least for Christians, is all about getting back to basics. And that is one of the things which the Twelve Steps do really well. Bill W., one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, frequently referred to the Twelve Steps as a spiritual kindergarten. They are a starting point, a place to learn the fundamentals.

As Ryan says on his website, "Although the most common complaint about the Twelve Steps is that they are too Christian, the most common complaint in the Christian community is that they are not Christian enough."

Spiritual Kindergarten

Many Christians with alcohol or drug abuse problems are turned off when they first encounter the 12 steps. But as Ryan explains, "The Steps were never intended to be "everything you ever needed to know about God." They are not designed to be a complete introduction to the Christian faith."

"Please don't dismiss the Twelve Steps just because they don't contain some theological affirmation that has been historically important in your faith community. As this issue of STEPS hopes to demonstrate, you do not need to abandon your faith in order to work the Twelve Steps, but you may need to get back to its foundations," Ryan says.

In a section of his website called, "Spiritual Kindergarten -- An introduction to the Twelve Steps" Ryan offers a detailed study of the 12 steps from a Biblical and Christian perspective. He gives the Scriptural references for each of the spiritual principles found within each step.

His study is a great resource for Christians and non-Christians alike and is the reason the website has been selected for the "Best of the Net" award by the Alcoholism Guide.

12 Steps for Christians
Dale Ryan's detailed study of the 12 steps of recovery from a Christian and Biblical perspective, he calls "Spiritual Kindergarten."