Celebrate Recovery

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Celebrate Recovery
FounderJohn Baker
Area served
10 countries
Key people
Johnny Baker
A sign advertising a Celebrate Recovery meeting in Anchorage, Alaska

Celebrate Recovery is an American Christian twelve-step program designed to facilitate recovery from a wide variety of troubling behavior patterns. The global headquarters is in Lake Forest, California, United States.


Driveway to Saddleback Church, Rancho Capistrano

The organization was founded in 1991 by John Baker, a former alcoholic staff member of Saddleback Church with the support of Pastor Rick Warren.[1] John Baker served as the primary author of The Celebrate Recovery curriculum and materials. In 2004, the program was approved by the California Department of Corrections and entered prisons.[2] In 2020, the organization was present in 10 countries around the world.[3]


Celebrate Recovery is a recovery program aimed at all "hurts, habits, and hang-ups", including but not exclusive to: high anxiety; co-dependency; compulsive behaviors; sex addiction; financial dysfunction; drug and alcohol addictions; and eating disorders.[4] Celebrate Recovery is one of the seven largest addiction recovery support group programs.[5] Promotional materials assert that over 5 million people have participated in a Celebrate Recovery step study in over 35,000 churches.[6][7] Leaders seek to normalize substance abuse as similar to other personal problems common to all people.[8]


Celebrate Recovery uses both the 12 steps developed by Alcoholics Anonymous and a very similar set of eight sequential principles that are understood as a lesson of Jesus' Beatitudes.[9][10][11][12] In addition to issue non-specific large group gatherings and individual mentoring, Celebrate Recovery encourages participants to form a small group of "accountability partners" who all have the same problem and support one another closely.[9] Celebrate Recovery groups are held under the management of local church organizations.[13] A study of Celebrate Recovery participants published in 2011 by the Journal of Religion and Health, found that levels of spirituality were associated with greater confidence to resist substance use.[14] Celebrate Recovery has not been significantly studied, so there is no empirical evidence regarding the impacts or efficacy of the Celebrate Recovery program.[15]

Program fidelity constraints[edit]

The name Celebrate Recovery is a registered trademark of John Baker,[16] and the national Celebrate Recovery organization requires that groups using this name hold closely to a standardized format.[9][10] They may not use resources outside of the Bible and authorized Celebrate Recovery curriculum materials.[17] Group facilitators must be trained and agree to a list of expectations,[9] including standardized guidelines[18][19] at each meeting.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kate Shellnutt, How Celebrate Recovery Helped Evangelicals Open Up About Addiction, christianitytoday.com, USA, August 12, 2016
  2. ^ John Leland, Offering Ministry, and Early Release, to Prisoners, nytimes.com, USA, June 10, 2004
  3. ^ CR, International Celebrate Recovery, celebraterecovery.com, USA, retrieved November 5, 2022
  4. ^ Lobdell 1999.
  5. ^ Kelly & White 2012, p. 2.
  6. ^ CR, About, celebraterecovery.com, USA, retrieved November 5, 2022
  7. ^ Lobdell 1999: Alcoholics and drug addicts make up only 30% of Celebrate Recovery's membership
  8. ^ Lobdell 1999: "We are all broken," program founder John Baker says. "We have all sinned. We have all missed the mark. We are all struggling with a hurt, habit or hang-up."
  9. ^ a b c d Kelly & White 2012, p. 9.
  10. ^ a b Headley, Olges & Sickinger 2010.
  11. ^ Brown et al. 2006.
  12. ^ Baker 2005.
  13. ^ Kelly & White 2012, p. 9: Celebrate Recovery... function[s] under the auspices of formal church organizations.
  14. ^ Brown et al. 2011.
  15. ^ Kelly & White 2012, p. 10: CR’s rapid growth and popularity presents some evidence of its potential benefit. However, little is known about its ability to engage, and retain members over time or whether it helps reduce relapse rates and enhances the odds of long-term recovery.
  16. ^ U.S. trademark record for "Celebrate Recovery"
  17. ^ a b "The Trademark Statement – DNA of CR". CelebrateRecovery.com. Archived from the original on 29 April 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  18. ^ "5 Guidelines for Celebrate Recovery Small Groups". Celebrate Recovery: New Orleans. 3 February 2014. Archived from the original on 23 April 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  19. ^ "Celebrate Recovery: Five Small Group Guidelines". Washington, DC: National Community Church. Archived from the original on 23 April 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2017.


  • Baker, John. Stepping out of Denial into God's Grace: Participant's Guide, 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998. Print.
  • Baker, John, and Richard Warren. Taking an Honest and Spiritual Inventory: Participant's Guide 2: A Recovery Program Based on Eight Principles from the Beatitudes. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1998. Print.
  • Baker, John, and Richard Warren. Celebrate Recovery: Getting Right with God, Yourself, and Others: Participant Guide, 3. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1998. Print.
  • Baker, John, and Richard Warren. Celebrate Recovery: Growing in Christ While Helping Others: Participant Guide 4. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1998. Print.
  • Baker, John (2005). Celebrate Recovery Leader's Guide: A Recovery Program Based on Eight Principles from the Beatitudes. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
  • Baker, John. Your First Step to Celebrate Recovery: How God Can Heal Your Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012. Print.
  • Brown, Anthony E.; Tonigan, J. Scott; Pavlik, Valory N.; Kosten, Thomas R.; Volk, Robert J. (19 January 2011). "Spirituality and Confidence to Resist Substance Use Among Celebrate Recovery Participants". Journal of Religion and Health. Springer Nature. 52 (1): 107–113. doi:10.1007/s10943-011-9456-x. ISSN 0022-4197. PMID 21246280. S2CID 23310335.
  • Brown, Anthony E.; Whitney, Simon N.; Schneider, Max A.; Vega, Charles P. (June 2006). "Alcohol Recovery and Spirituality: Strangers, Friends, or Partners?". Southern Medical Journal. 99 (6): 654–657. doi:10.1097/01.smj.0000198271.72795.ab. PMID 16800434. S2CID 7145495.
  • Headley, K.; Olges, D.; Sickinger, P. (6 November 2010), Twelve-step referrals: A group counselor's guide to utilizing Alcoholics Anonymous and celebrate recovery (PDF), Regent University, archived from the original (PDF) on 20 August 2017, retrieved 20 August 2017
  • Kelly, John F.; White, William L. (2012). "Broadening the base of addiction mutual-help organizations" (PDF). Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery. 7 (2–4): 82–101. doi:10.1080/1556035X.2012.705646. S2CID 144983076. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  • Lobdell, William (24 April 1999). "12 Steps, Christian Style". Los Angeles Times. p. B3. Retrieved 20 August 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • Spriggs, J. David, and Eric Sloter. "Counselor-Clergy Collaboration in a Church-based Counseling Ministry." Journal of Psychology & Christianity 22.4 (2003).

External links[edit]