The following are general guidelines for starting and maintaining a new meeting. Intergroup is here to help you with the resources necessary to get started, keep it going, address issues that arise, and help ensure the meeting survives. You are not alone. While starting a meeting can be challenging, the rewards of knowing you were instrumental in founding it, is truly amazing.
A. MEETINGS ARE AUTONOMOUS (TRADITION #4)
Each meeting makes its own decisions on policy in keeping with the 12 Traditions. The Traditions provide guidelines for group conduct just as the Steps provide guidelines for individual recovery.
B. LOCATE A FACILITY
A group needs a safe place to meet. Groups have found space in recovery centers, Intergroup centers, churches, parks, schools, hospitals, recovery book stores, or public service organizations at reasonable rents. Some meetings have started in someone’s home, but usually found the need to move into a larger, “neutral space” within a few months. A good place to start is by finding facilities that already host other 12 step groups. An easy way to find those facilities is by going to the websites of the other programs. This process will tell you who is already 12-step friendly. It’s not unusual for a facility to quote you a high price for space rental. Don’t be afraid to remind them that this is a community service, and 12 step participants generally pay $1 each to attend a meeting. Let them know that it would be helpful if you could pay a lesser amount for the first 6 months while the meeting is getting started. Many facilities will work with you.
C. GETTING STARTED
If possible, you may want to get a commitment from two or three other program people to show up for a few meetings to insure the new group’s early survival. Meetings registered with the ACA WSO (registration form included in this packet) will be published in our online Meeting Directory which will help people find the meeting. Your local Intergroup may also have local meeting directories or call centers that can help new members find your meeting.
D. MEETING OFFICERS
Each meeting provides opportunities for service which keeps the meeting operational. In a healthy meeting, several people do a little of the work and the jobs get done.
E. MEETING FORMATS
This packet contains a Sample Meeting Format. You may also refer to the ACA Fellowship Textbook for other samples.
Crosstalk is interrupting, giving advice, or making comments about another person’s sharing. It is also talking to someone or making distracting noise during sharing time. In ACA, we don’t crosstalk. When others listen to us, just listen, our reality, our truth, our ideas, our feelings, our self-image, our beings are affirmed. When we focus only on our own recovery (keeping out of other people’s), we are taking responsibility for our own lives. We do this by presenting all statements in the “I”, first-person, form.
Anonymity allows us to share our feelings and to experience an “Identity” apart from a “label”. “Who you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here,” is a good rule to follow in creating a safe place to share our feelings and recovery without fear of gossip, retaliation, or of our anonymity being broken.
Each meeting determines the books, tapes, flyers, or pamphlets appropriate to its literature table as each meeting is autonomous. In keeping with Tradition 6, “An ACA group never endorses, finances or lends our name to any facility or outside enterprise lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.” Always keep the Newcomer in mind and select appropriate literature to provide ACA information to any new member.
Ours is a program of attraction, not promotion. If ACA meetings already exist in the area, you may want to distribute a flyer announcing your new meeting at them. If they don’t, you may want to distribute flyers with permission at other 12-Step meetings and invite a few close friends.
J. STARTING A NEW MEETING
The program grows because someone has a need to begin a new meeting and tries to meet that need.
The love and respect we offer to Newcomers is a reflection of the love and respect we are learning to offer ourselves.
L. SAFETY POLICIES
At a regular business meeting draw up your meeting plan for what to do with disruptions at meetings according to group consensus. Some ideas you may consider:
1. Keep Tradition 1: Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on ACA unity.
2. Ask those who disrupt to leave.
3. Ask those who disrupt to take one week (2 weeks, 4 weeks…) away from this meeting.
4. Offer those who disrupt an opportunity to earn their way back into the meeting by making amends to the group and by performing a designated service.
5. Ban individuals who continue to disrupt the meeting.
6. Escort a person who is disruptive from the meeting. Escorting is done by a group of meeting members designated to do this as determined in a Business Meeting.
7. Shut down the meeting immediately and have all members depart for the common welfare.
8. Call the police if there is clear and present danger to lives, health, or property.
M. OTHER PROBLEMS
When problems occur for which this packet has no answers, check the Twelve Traditions and present the problem in a Business Meeting for a group conscience. The ACA Fellowship Textbook may offer some insight as well. If your group is still unclear on what to do, you may contact your local Intergroup or ACA WSO for suggestions. No matter the source of where you obtain your suggestions, it is ultimately your meeting that will decide what is best to do for its
MEETING OFFICERS (SERVICE POSITIONS) GENERAL INFORMATION
We suggest that service positions terms be at least six (6) months in duration. These guidelines are provided for your easy reference. Each meeting is autonomous and can modify, change or delete guidelines as the group majority sees fit.