Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Missional Church 7 -- AA: Organized Around Practices Not Programs

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fascinating reality (that is an understatement). I think AA is a great example of how a missional church ought to be organized. AA is organized around practices rather than programs. What are the practices? The 12 steps. If you are an alcoholic and you want to be free of liquor, all you need to do to "join" AA is embrace the 12 steps and show up. There are of course "programs" in the sense that there are meetings both large and small. But note this -- anyone can lead the meetings, in fact they are leaderless. What drives AA is an idealogy -- the 12 steps.

The 12 steps are practices.

This is how missional church ought to be organized. A group of people who are possessed by a common, simple, transferable idealogy that transfers into a set of common practices.

This kind of structure is movemental and virtually unstoppable.

According to the book The Starfish and the Spider, in a decentralized organization such as AA, the values ARE the organization. And the values are translated into a set of simple, transferable practices.


Bob said...

I think the aspect that AA has that cannot be readily replicated in the church is that the folks who go to AA have already come face-to-face with the reality of their own total depravity/addiction to alcohol (losing jobs, spouses, homes, family, self-respect, etc.) and are desperately in search of redemption, reconciliation, and healing.

The people who walk in to churches just want to feel like they're "doing the right thing".

Peter said...

You're right Bob.

My point wasn't about what motivates folks to join AA, my point was about how it is organized.

Other examples of this kind of organization are:

Al Qaeda
Apache Indians
William Wallace of Scotland

Kyle said...

It also seems that, to do it this way, they have to trust people rather than techniques.

Chris Duckworth said...

Years after this blogpost I, too, am looking at AA as an organizational model for the church, and I also just purchased Starfish and Spider. Also, yesterday I heard Jono Bacon speak, and I purchased his book, Art of Community.