New style SA meeting

One of our meetings has trialled some big changes. The problems were:

  • old timers arriving late
  • meeting not opening on time
  • too few members at the start of the meeting - trouble starting meeting with strength
  • difficulty filling service roles
  • fluctuating attendance and numbers
  • losing old-timers
  • not keeping newcomers
  • meetings always the same - focussed on members just telling their stories with slippers and sober members getting equal sharing time and not enough focus recovery
  • step meetings once a month, discussing the next step in order, regardless of newcomers' needs
  • too many slippers sharing in newcomer meetings
  • numerous members only doing this meeting each week - having a very narrow view of recovery and little knowledge of the breadth of literature

Our solutions were:

  • shortened meeting from 90 to 75 minutes
  • abolished repetitive meeting style
  • 2 sober members only share in shortened newcomer part of meeting - then revert to a scheduled topic
  • room set up 30 mins before meeting
  • meeting room decuttered
  • various new formats tried
  • a larger range of SA/AA literature used
  • focussed on recovery
  • relevant to both newcomers and old-timers
  • bringing out the depth of recovery that is in the room
  • present recovery as a dynamic process
  • encourage members to talk about current stuff but with a recovery, solution focus
  • having suggested readings for most topics but allowing the chairman to choose others or conference recording
  • encouraging members to own their own meeting and not just be passive recipients

​After 8 weeks, the results are:

  • numbers are stabilising at the higher end
  • members are positive about the changes including those who were sceptical
  • members are turning up earlier
  • newcomers are responding
  • old timers are sharing stuff they have not shared before