The Death of a 12 Step Group…An Obituary on What Went Wrong?

The Death of a 12 Step Group…An Obituary on What Went Wrong? from Big Book Sponsorship

GNN Note – Fellowship is a key element that helps people remain close to Jesus Christ, which in turns keeps the addictive compulsive behaviors in check. The “death” of a group is a big deal, I know as the group that helped to save my life is no more and when you reach out to something that no longer exist it is a scary situation. / END

“There is only one thing more contagious than enthusiasm and that is a lack of it!”

Recently I heard of a 12 Step Group closing its doors due to lack of support and attendance. Those few remaining members expressed a sincere saddness that the group was no longer. Other members in the fellowship commented that it was sad for them too, because it was the first group they attended when they came into the fellowship.

Factors that cause a 12 Step Group to close its doors

Twelve Step Groups are dynamic entities–members come and go as the please, they relapse, move away, join other groups, pass away, or just stop coming to meetings altogether. There are other reasons for a Group to close it doors, perhaps it holds its meeting at a inconvenient time or day of the week or is located “off-the-beaten path”. These reasons should be considered when a Group notices its membership dwindling–prudent action is for a Group to take regular Group inventory.

Many groups periodically take a “group inventory,” for an honest and fearless discussion of the group’s weaknesses-and strengths. Questions may include:

  • What is the basic purpose of the group?
  • What more can the group do to carry the message?
  • Considering the number of alcoholics or addicts in our community, are we reaching enough people?
  • What has the group done lately to bring the 12 Step message to the attention of physicians, judges, members of the clergy, and others who can be helpful in reaching those who need help?
  • Is the group attracting only a certain kind of alcoholic, or addict or are we getting a good cross section of our community?
  • Do new members stick with us, or does turnover seem excessive?
  • How effective is our sponsorship? How can it be improved?
  • Has everything practical been done to provide an attractive meeting place?
  • Has enough effort been made to explain to all members the need and value of kitchen and housekeeping work and other services to the group?
  • Is adequate opportunity given to all members to speak and participate in other group activities?
  • Are group officers picked with care and consideration on the basis that officership is a great responsibility and opportunity for Twelfth Step work?
  • Does the group carry its fair share of the job of helping out at the Intergroup/Area?
  • Do we give all members their fair chance of keeping informed about the whole of 12 Step Recovery, Unity, and Service?

Carry the message NOT the addict

Another reason many Groups close their doors is because they have lost focus on Tradition Five: Each group has but one primary purpose — to carry its message to the alcoholic (addict) who still suffers. Furthermore, Tradition Five (Long): Each Alcoholics Anonymous group ought to be a spiritual entity having but one primary purpose–that of carrying its message to the alcoholic (addict) who still suffers.

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