Sponsoring a Secular Member

Overeaters Anonymous (OA) brochures encourage sponsors to, “Let everyone follow their own path.” When working with a secular sponsee who is atheist or agnostic, or has a non-Christian spiritual practice, it often supports their recovery to be willing to work outside of the OA box. Be open to sponsees reading secular or spiritual 12-Step literature in addition to OA literature; this will help sponsees translate the core messages of the Steps in terms they can understand and accept.

Let sponsees know about secular OA meetings  and secular websites (like this one), which feature OA Lifeline secular stories and podcasts that can help inspire them.

So many suffering food addicts leave OA or never even attend that first meeting because they are turned off by the “God-talk” and moralism in the program. But when secular fellows know they are not alone and that there are resources and support, it helps them stay in the program and find recovery. 

Secular Sponsor Panel (recording, 75 min)
This recording (October 3, 2021) includes four secular sponsors sharing how they work with their secular sponsees as well as a Q&A with workshop attendees.

Secular Sponsoring Resources (pdf)
Free resources for secular sponsors.

Secular Sponsor Kit (mailing)
Get a free copy of OA’s “A Guide for Sponsors” and a print copy of Secular Sponsoring Resources.

OA Brochures
These brochures are available for purchase at the OA online bookstore (https://bookstore.oa.org/):
“A Guide for Sponsors”
“Sponsorship Kit”
Temporary Sponsors: Newcomers’ First Twelve Days (pdf): The is a free publication available from OA with a helpful outline and questions for introducing a newcomer to OA. Although it says the “first 12 days,” these days do not have to be consecutive!

The Freethinker Alternative 12 Steps for Overeaters (pdf)

Popular secular and spiritual 12-Step books 

“I’m not here to judge or teach—I’m here to be with you in this [the pain of our disease].”

“I want my abstinence back so I can sponsor—I love giving back.”

“I was working with a sponsee the other day, and I had to say: I have no idea, I’ll ask MY sponsor.”

“My job is to be a loving witness.”

“I am not your higher power.”

“Don’t let being a sponsor be about control or perfectionism. Just relax and breathe into it.”

(Carol G)