I was recently reading yet another discussion regarding the difficulty of balancing institution and organism in the church. I went back in my thinking to a time when I worked at an addiction treatment center and began to see that AA — the original 12 step program — had a brilliant way of avoiding some of those problems. These are normally referred to as the 12 traditions. Here below I’ve quickly and without deep thought translated those to apply to the body of Christ. Recognize the wisdom!:
1. Our common welfare as the body should come first; personal growth depends on a healthy body.
2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority — a loving God that is depicted in the Bible and revealed in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
3. The only requirement for membership in the group is a desire for sanctification.
4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or the body as a whole.
5. Each group has but one primary purpose–to carry its message to those who still struggle.
6. One group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the name of the body to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
7. Every group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
8. The groups in the body should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
9. The body, as such, ought never be organized into an institution; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
10. The collective of groups has no opinion on outside issues; hence the reputation of the body ought never be drawn into public controversy.
11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity outside the group gathering and especially in media.
12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever remind us to place principles before personalities.