Meeting format and fellowship

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Meeting format and fellowship

Postby Alex1 » Sun Sep 20, 2015 3:01 pm

We just had a very interesting group discussion in my homegroup about various issued people were having with the group. I'd like to ask your opinions on these.

First was fellowship. At the moment people come on time for our meeting and leave at the end, with no fellowship either before or after. I think people would like to have official time for fellowship so they know that others will be there. Which is better - fellowship before the meeting or after (our meeting is at night 8:30 - 9:30)?

Second was the meeting format. At the moment we read for about 20 minutes then open up to shares on the reading or general shares. One suggestion was to read 5 paragraphs only and have shares on the reading only, followed by general shares. I like this idea as well. Does anyone have a better format or any experience with this?

Does anyone have any other experience with ideas that help the group grow as a spiritual entity?

Thanks.
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Re: Meeting format and fellowship

Postby ezdzit247 » Sun Sep 20, 2015 4:37 pm

Hi Alex

I got sober in southern California where meetings are generally an hour and a half long, i.e 7 to 8:30 or 8 to 9:30, etc., with a 15 to 20 min break after the opening readings & announcements, & newcomers & visitors had identified themselves before chair reconvened the regular meeting. That worked really well to have that 15 or 20 min break to give members (who would otherwise be bolting out the door) an opportunity to connect with newcomers & visitors, exchange phone numbers, tell them about other meetings, invite them to the "meeting-after-the-meeting, etc.

Regarding meeting formats & selected readings from the BB, meetings in my area usually read the AA Preamble, portions of "How It Works", "More About Alcoholism", "12 Traditions" and then "A Vision For You" and the "AA Promises" at the end of the meeting with about 40 to 45 minutes of time allotted to a speaker or topic discussions. Hearing those readings at every meeting worked really well for me as a newcomer. It told me what the AA program was about and laid out the tools for sobriety for my inspection. I think following a format based on what the group conscience thinks works best for newcomers is what will help an AA group grow as a spiritual entity.

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Re: Meeting format and fellowship

Postby Brock » Sun Sep 20, 2015 5:27 pm

I don’t think the fellowshipping part should be given a set time that is kind of formal for something that should be more spontaneous. Like EZ we do that during the meeting, we also have meetings for an hour and a half, if it’s not too much hassle you could consider recommending that as well. We just have a 15 – 20 min break sometime around the middle of the meeting in-between shares, and while drinking the coffee and so forth folks chat to each other, some may go out to smoke and chat outside, nice and informal.

I have found with formats that include reading that it should be limited, like you say five paragraphs or so, anything longer people start to lose concentration. And the idea of first sharing on the reading then general shares is good, what I have found is it depends on what the reading is, interesting topic lots of shares, but some topics it’s difficult to get members to say anything, everyone then waits until the general sharing starts to open up.

Best of luck with your efforts, it’s good to care about the format.
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Re: Meeting format and fellowship

Postby chefchip » Mon Sep 21, 2015 6:10 am

I have no particular thoughts on meeting formats. In my area we have hundreds of groups and meetings and it seems each has its own unique way of running meetings. Once I gave up on my misguided notions of what a meeting "should be," I learned to find wisdom and strengh in most all of them. In my home group, we don't stick with any one format for very long. The group conscience changes them when the existing one doesn't seem to be working for the current group that we have. It is good to care, especially about one's home group, but otherwise I'm content as long as the message is being presented.

As for fellowship, that is one thing that my home group does VERY well. For thirty minutes before a meeting, there are 4-6 people whose "job" it is to greet everyone who walks in the door. More importantly there are all sorts of "pop up" meetings that happen before and after the main event. We are a big meeting (averaging 100), and we don't want new people to get lost in the crowd. Sometimes I worry that we overwhelm the newbies, because they usually get lots of attention. Then I remember that I've been in meetings where no one talked to me, the newcomer to that meeting. Better too much attention than not enough, I've learned.

In my experience, as long as a group is taking its responsibility to be the hand of AA seriously, that's what matters. And it sounds like yours is doing that.
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