Fellowship Meeting Format
5- Fellowship Meeting Format
This page provides a sample fellowship meeting format and a step-by-step account on what occurs at a typical 12 Step anonymous Fellowship meeting. The fellowship meeting format may vary from one group to another, but this overview will give you a general idea of what to expect at one.
Meetings begin promptly and usually last one hour. The secretary opens the meeting with the following: “My name is ….. and I am an addict (or over-eater, or alcoholic, etc.) and would like to welcome you to (name of the group). We especially welcome newcomers and those in their first 90 days. If you wish do so, please introduce yourself by first name only”. At this point, those in their first 90 days can raise their hands and when called on by the secretary say their names and announce the number of days it has been since they have been clean.
2. Fellowship pamphlets are read
Secretary invites members of the meeting to read various Fellowship pamphlets to remind the group of their purpose and philosophy. These may include:
- Who is an addict
- We can recover
- 12 Steps and 12 Traditions
3. Secretary makes announcements to remind the group to:
- Keep their focus on the purpose of why we are gathered here – to recover from our addiction.
- Keep shares limited to 3-5 minutes in order that as many as possible may have the opportunity to share.
- Share using ‘I statements’ (rather than ‘you statements’).
- Avoid giving advice or trying to fix others when sharing (which is called cross-talk).
- Refrain from asking questions or engaging in discussions during the meeting.
- Identify rather than compare. That is, focus on how we are similar rather than on our differences.
- The secretary then reminds members that, “What you hear here let it stay here; gossip may lead to relapse and relapse may lead to death.” (It is a bedrock principle in 12 Step Fellowships that members respect the confidentiality of fellow members.)
4. Main speaker
At many meetings a member of the Fellowship with time in recovery speaks for about 15 to 20 minutes about their experience, strength and hope. They usually tell the story of what their addiction was like, how they entered recovery and where they are now. At other times speakers will talk on a specific topic related to recovery, or they might talk about one of the Steps.
5. General sharing
When the main speaker has finished, the meeting is open for anyone who wishes to share. Members usually share about the ways in which the speaker’s story relates to their own. But sharing can be about anything relating to our experiences with addiction and recovery, with our focus on the solution offered by the 12 Steps. People at meetings talk about almost everything: their jobs, their spouses, their families, their love lives, their hurts, their disappointments, their goals, their failures, their successes. Above all they talk about how they stay in recovery despite what happens – good or bad.
6. Ten minutes before the meeting closes:
- In keeping with Tradition 7, which states all Fellowship meetings are self-supporting, the group treasurer announces how much money the group is currently holding and then passes a basket around for donations. Members usually put in a small sum, , though you do not have to contribute if you cannot or wish not to. The money goes to pay for meeting expenses such as tea, snacks, literature, chips, etc. If the groups has met its prudent reserve and is holding extra money, a group conscious is held to donate the extra money to the Area.
- The literature person, reminds newcomers of free literature for those who want more information about the Fellowship or the 12 Steps.
- The secretary:
- Thanks group members who have been of service to the meeting.
- Asks for announcements in relation to Fellowship activities and events.
- Invites group members to go out afterward for coffee or something to eat. These gatherings are opportunities for people to get to know each other and for newcomers to ask questions.
In some meetings, and for certain anniversaries, chips, key tags, and medallions, which denote various amounts of clean time, are handed out. Members applaud those receiving these tokens, especially newcomers and those coming back from a relapse.
The meeting closes with group members holding hands and reciting the Serenity Prayer.
The Serenity Prayer
“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.