A Question and Answer Communication from One New Group Appraising and Planning a “Stick to the Winners” Old School Recovery Approach
[Name removed to preserve anonymity]
Dear S.: You called it like it is; and yours is a good, experience-driven observation and stance.
I intend to publish anonymously your comments because they are frank, truthful, participatory, and helpful.
As to leadership, our task is training – not leading; and we are getting a good start with a small group of Christian AAs right here in Kihei. We have met three times now. The first time was an organizing group, and they like old school and enchancing literature. The second meeting was one in which we filmed our first guide and did it with Bob’s help at our Salvation Army office, and a new=comer new group Christian was there to observe and comment. Yesterday, we met with a very strong personality who will be important in the organizing and is supportive; and here are some ideas he’d like to have tossed around by the Steering Committee before the group is started:
A meeting that doesn’t push conference-approved literature alone but which presents it as an enhancement of the history, reliance on God, and recovery work. Something our Guide does.
Speaking for myself, the aims are: (1) To learn and provide content, not to lead and command. (2) To grow with each meeting and workshop in order to get a flavor for what is needed by a particular person, fellowship, meeting, or group and the suggestions for that particular group. (3) To avoid a one-size-fits-all approach, but to continue listening, helping, researching, reporting, and helping shape each group’s interest and objective. (4) To encourage an autonomous attitude of each group, meeting, or fellowship by having that group seek God’s guidance first, make decisions based on that, keep the decisions in writing and use them to guide the leaders, the listeners, and the meetings, and to learn by doing.
A prayerful group conscience which adopts written minutes, which picks the date, time, place, format, and first secretary. One which adopts a group conscience that conference=approved literature will be on the front table and approved and other literature such as the Bible, devotionals, our materials will also be selected and approved and located on a separate table. The group will have a name which stresses old school 12 Step study meeting. A major point was that the leader must be trained. We will help with their first few meetings because they asked us to. We will have some twenty short films that will be on the web and available for training, display, or individual viewing. We will have the How to Guidebook which will be renamed “Stick with the Winners.” All varieties of victims—alcoholics, addicts, prescription pill junkies—may participate, the thought being that both Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob suffered from drugs and alcohol as do most newcomers today and hence are often told to describe themselves as alcoholic/addicts. Also that it is not the common bond that binds suffering souls, but rather their desperation and the growing confidence that God’s love, power, forgiveness, and healing provide the answer.
A typical meeting may have a speaker address (after preparation) a topic such as How the First Three Got Sober, call on participants for questions or comments, insure that they are ruled out of order if they stray into psychobabble, religious disputing, or girl friend problems. Prevent domination by elder statesmen who have never advanced in their learning but have expertise in stating over and over what little they may know or have heard without study .
Each meeting will have an available study library, primarily on hand and available for those attending a meeting: For example, 20 plus Bibles. 12 have already been donated. 50 plus P-53 pamphlets—we hope will be obtained and donated, several DR. BOB books (three of which have been donated), as many Big Books and NA books as we can get through donations and friends. A group of our historical books for use if desired. Our hope is to have one or more benefactors buy many of the reference books so that they are available at no charge and during a meeting as a resource library for leaders, speakers, and “students.” This simply means a start-up resource without expecting members to fund it.
There are many suggested meeting topics, which we are starting to film now, and which are much covered in the How to Guide, but will be specific and brief and cover such varied topics as to (using the Bible, Conference-approved literature, and other literature geared to old school A.A. and telling how to approach a newcomer, what sponsorship should do, how to take the 12 Steps, the Bible roots, the Oxford Group backdrop, the original 7 point program, and the sixteen practices – to mention just a few. There is far more already available than most have ever heard or will hear in meetings.
These would not be lecture or teaching meetings per se or typical A.,A. beginners, speaker, Step Study, Big Book, or speaker discussion meetings to the extent that the members are wandering instead of learning. A basic idea is the Joe and Charlie Big Book Seminars – except this will be many meetings instead of three fact=filled days. Many leaders instead of one. Guides and films to help. And member participation if appropriate and relevant.
Because of the time you took, I do believe you and your pastor and the other lady can, in due course, help us in shaping each type of approach by International Christian Recovery Coalition participant leaders to the taste and mission of each group, and yet help us build as we have on what we hear and learn and record from personal meetings like the one in Oahu
Author, 43 titles & over 800 articles on A.A. History and the Christian Recovery Movement
Exec. Dir., International Christian Recovery Coalition
PO Box 837, Kihei, HI 96753-0837
Sent: Sunday, March 11, 2012 4:18 PM
To: ‘Dick B.’
Cc: . . . .
Subject: RE: Brainstorming and Hearing Your Needs and Approaches To those hosting, speaking, leading our workshops, or meeting with us
I am not the expert here. Here is my input. Go and make disciples. Quite a tall order, Jews and Samarians, Christian addicts, to agnostic alcoholics, emotional disconnected people , Bi polar, brain chemical unbalance, toxic element exposure, and the ones that don’t want to get well , and PTSD. And on and on.
There is no one definition of addiction. Unlike cancer, or polio. Dr Bob said in one of his speeches that there was a limited amount of information about alcoholism. We still deal with that in 2012. Even your book God and Alcoholism made it clear there are many camps with Phd(s) that still disagree.
So with this walking thru the door every day I can only pass on what I have observed.
1) Education on addiction( addicts and alcoholics are wired differently) than “ normees”
2) By Gods design we were never designed to function, emotionally or intellectually with mind altering mood changing substances 24/7, or sober to function in dysfunctional relationships.
Recovery = Relationships
Safe people, people who are mature enough in the knowledge, and emotions of Christ, WHO are able to come along side to mentor and disciple , to submit Gods resources to every one desiring to change.
AA conference approved material meetings and study groups, that’s an area by area mine field. Some sections of the US and the world for that matter have more or less Christian backgrounds and by people groups are open to an introduction of The Christian background and History of AA. AA may be more open. Have you ever , read the 11th step from the How and Why of NA I’ll quote some of it ( pg 108) “ one of the basic principles of recovery in Narcotics Anonymous our absolute and unconditional freedom to believe in any Higher Power we choose and, of course, our right to communicate with that Higher Power in whatever conforms to our individual beliefs.”
If you don’t have a facilitator to let your group know that is the glass front door to Macy’s for Satans kingdom. Your group is in for some trials. For along time I tried to avoid reading that section of the 11th step. My growth in Jesus and the introduction of some Christian materials helped most of our group to figure out that NA and the ones that wrote the literature were confused, unbelievers. AKA still lost .
Acts 1-6 is a backbone for our Four Square denomination. House churches and minichurches are a fundamental tool for members. Out of an addicts and alcoholics circle I found we all have issues sober, bankers, pastors, wives, teenagers, were all the same ( and should be treated as a work in progress, by all). therefore introduction of our study groups to the body of believes is very important to eliminate the thinking that were different in our thinking our problems and solving them are any different from others who are growing in the Lord and reality.
My particular church is focusing specifically on relationships and getting away from numbers. Being rather than doing.
I believe that the 12 step movement is going to be ( happening already) passed over , given up on because of the legal / religious 1st amendment court actions. With treatment facilities unable to enforce clients to AA and NA meetings, I think we will see a huge drop in attendance. We are already seeing the atheists changing the 12 steps totally writing God out of the steps.
Because they need members to keep “corporate AA” or NA alive the newcomers will actually be the death of the fellowships. I don’t know if you have noticed that the younger generation coming into treatment , they don’t represent a different cross section of our country’s direction, they are a mirror of it. The old timers in meetings will dwindle by attrition.
I believe that God has allowed our will to show that without Him our recovery numbers are dismal. I believe our strength now lies in the hands of the church. A reformation of the church to actually begin to understand Christ and His role in relationships. The community has not produced results, and the church has not either. If Christ and the Body of Christ becomes the primary solution for the addict and alcoholic we will have run the race well.
Again bottom line Recovery = relationships.