Our twelfth Step – carrying the message — is the basic service that the AA Fellowship gives. This is our principal aim and the main reason for our existence. Therefore, AA is more than a set of principles; it is a society of alcoholics in action. We must carry the message, else we ourselves can wither and those who haven’t been given the truth may die.
Service positions, whether performed by individuals, groups, areas, or AA as a whole, are utterly vital to our existence and growth. Nor can we make AA more simple by abolishing such services. We would only be asking for complication and confusion.
Tradition Four reminds us, “With respect to its own affairs, each AA group should be responsible to no other authority than its own conscience. But when its plans concern the welfare of neighboring groups also, those groups ought to be consulted. And no group, regional committee, or individual should ever take any action that might greatly affect AA as a whole without conferring with the trustees of the General Service Board.” On such issues our common welfare is “PARAMOUNT”.
As vital as Tradition Four is, remember we cannot make any member conform to what format we think works best for AA as a whole. However, districts and areas are responsible to encourage groups to participate and incorporate all thirty-six of AA principles as a whole.
Maybe we can start by suggesting to some of the meeting supporters that there is a District Meeting and they might want to check it out. Explain what a GSR (General Service Representative) is and does, explain anyone is capable of being a GSR. Maybe, a supporter of the meeting and the DCM (District Committee Member) can talk to the individual and encourage that person to have an informal group discussion after one of the meetings. My experience is most of the time resistance if subtle, and quite often no one stays. Here we get to practice patience and tolerance. And persistence. Please don’t get discouraged. Mention the benefits of being part of AA as a whole receiving mail such as Box 459 and other literature sent by Area and General Service Office.
Try to arrange a two or three hour district picnic or gathering, with food, a lead and an appropriate information segment with a speaker respected in your area stating the importance of the meeting growing into a group. If you’re so bold maybe a couple of members can talk to the person running the meeting and try to encourage that person and state that you’re willing to help transform the meeting to an AA group. We ought to make clear we are not there to take over the meeting. Remember you can inform and request; we cannot demand as that may cause more damage than usefulness. Stress the main difference between meetings and groups. A group tends to have more dedicated members and the spiritual benefits of having different rotating service positions. That AA groups generally continue to exist outside the prescribed meeting hours, ready to provide Twelfth Step help when needed. Leave literature and phone numbers. Offer your willingness and time to help any time in the future.
If the lead person of the meeting is interested, ask if you can give a short presentation encouraging volunteers to serve and if possible set a time and date to have a group conscience meeting. Don’t be disappointed if only a few people show up. A few is a good start; remember that any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an AA group provided that, as a group, they have no other purpose or affiliation.
Just as our personal growth is progress not profection, quite often meetings are slow to come around. No matter how minimal, try to appreciate any support that you may get. Practice patience, and understanding; sometime a group wants a trusted servant to stay on, for example a treasurer.
I have found I must organize, pray, try to humble myself, check my ego and motives, and put AA principles before personalities. As always, its attraction not promotion. We can be more effective in encouraging meeting to mature into groups, valuing rotation of service positions and the importance of AA as a whole.
Alternate Delegate Area 53 Panel 65
Presented at the Area 53 Assembly on June 5, 2016.