Almost everyone has heard of the 12 steps. A little lesser known are the 12 traditions. These were designed to preserve the integrity of the meetings and the purpose that they uphold. While the 12 steps focus merely on the content the 12 traditions focus on the structure. I recently read them and asked this question: What would it look like if the church applied the 12 traditions to their model?
Here are a few examples. I replaced CHURCH for A.A. (alcoholics anonymous).
- Our common welfare should come first; personal growth depends upon CHURCH unity.
- For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
- A CHURCH ought never endorse, finance or lend the CHURCH name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
- CHURCH should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
- CHURCH, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
- Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
Even after writing this, a part of me cringes at the first reactions of myself and possible others. “Remain nonprofessional”! “Never be organized?” That sounds like chaos. EDIT: The most fascinating thing to me about these principles is that A.A. does not think that any of these structures are evil. The biggest danger is that they are distracting (from their mission.) In fact it would seem that distractions are far more dangerous than overt conflict based upon the protections they have put in place.
I have asked myself these two questions:
- What is the purpose for each of these traditions within A.A.?
- EDIT: If A.A. Considers these things distractions, how is that the Church is not distracted? Or is it?
Would these things destroy the church, explode the church? What do you think?