Being in Service
The picture of "The Man on The Bed" has come to be known to represent the "beginning" of AA. What it also represents is people reaching out to others who are in need. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." - 2 Cor.1:3-4. We are asked to help others so that they may in turn help still others. This is what keeps us in recovery - service to others, so that we may receive His comfort and offer that comfort others. "..Love one another as I have loved you"- John 15:12. Service begins by reaching out to another, one on one. Groups that meet regularly afford the greatest opportunity for this. But someone has to ensure the group has a place to meet. Several service opportunities exist at the group level. New people need to feel "a part of" and this is a great start. When groups unite locally, they can form service Districts to support the groups, just as the group supports the individual. As we grow, districts come together to form Areas, meeting a few times a year to exchange ideas and grow in understanding and effectiveness. Service committees are formed at the different levels to increase efforts in outreach - Public Relations, Hospitals- Institutions- Missions, and activity/Event planning are the most common. By rotating leadership we allow everyone the blessing of serving others and end up coming full circle to serving the individual. See how you can help!
Service at Group level is an excellent opportunity to make newer people feel "a part of" the group. Many times, when the group is small, one person serves as leader, secretary, treasurer, etc. Unfortunately, many groups have closed because of the loss of this one individual. That is why it is suggested that leadership be rotated. Not only does this draw other members into service to the group, but it also ensures the continuance of the group in case the leader leaves the group. Frequency of rotation is entirely up to the group – annual, semiannual, monthly, or even weekly – but should be done. If a designated leader fails to show up, the facilitator or someone who has led before could fill in. As the group grows, it may become desirable to have a "business meeting" once a month, usually before or after the regular meeting. This meeting can provide an opportunity for all members to have their voice heard and participate in the group structure. This also preserves valuable sharing time at the regular meeting. Some suggested positions are:
- Secretary - conducts the business meeting, maintains supply of literature, chips (if any), reports to the group
- Treasurer - collects 7th Tradition, pays rent, keeps record of group finances.
- Coffee/Snacks - Sets up and makes coffee, ensure supply of cups, creamer, sugar, etc.
- Key person - setup/cleanup, opens the doors and makes sure the facility is left in proper order
- Group Service Representative (GSR) - represent the group at District meetings, report to group about District activities, coordinate activities with other groups in the area.
These positions should be rotated as well, although many times one person may hold multiple positions as best suits the group. The above positions and descriptions are offered only as suggestions, and are intended to promote unity within the group. Our recovery is enhanced by serving others. A group is normally funded by collections for the 7th Tradition.
7. Every Overcomers Outreach group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
Most meetings "pass the hat" to collect what is called "The 7th Tradition". This collection is how the meeting pays for coffee, rent, literature, and other expenses, and remains autonomous. Every group, District, Area, and Committee that observes our 7th Tradition will, hopefully, find themselves in a position where they have money left over after paying expenses. It may be the result of a fund raising event, speaker meeting, or generous donations at meetings from grateful members. It has been shown many times over that when money builds up over time at any level, problems arise with how to best put it to use, usually starting with "Let's save it". All 12 step fellowships have had to stumble through this dilemma and what seems to have been proven to be the best solution is to "pass it on". When a substantial amount of money accumulates it seems to have a direct negative effect on the unity and spirituality of the group involved. Also, contributions are intended to be put to use, not hoarded. We have to have faith - give it away, more will come. With a service structure in place, the funds are always put to best use, whether for free literature, event staging, or helping meet expenses incurred producing and distributing educational materials, for example. Following the "70/30" plan allows the major portion of contributions to be spent locally, while also ensuring funding of the service structure, but is by no means mandatory. Here's an example:
After paying rent, buying coffee, getting literature, and maintaining a "prudent reserve", a group finds they have $10 left over. They could send $7 to the District and $3 to the Central Service Office (70/30). The District uses $9 of the money received putting on a workshop, printing meeting schedules, and furnishing literature to PI and HIM panels. The District then sends 70 cents of the remaining dollar to Area and 30 cents to the Central Office. The area uses the money, along with money from other Districts, to hold a conference at which a new pamphlet on Meth Addiction is developed. The draft of the pamphlet is sent, along with 30% of the money left over (if any) to the Central Office, which then prints and distributes the pamphlet to the groups. This is just an example to show the principle at work.
The "prudent reserve" typically is money held for emergency payment of regular meeting expenses (rent, coffee, supplies, etc.) in case of theft or other calamity. Most frequently it is a sum equal to one month's normal operating expense and many times it is much less. Excess cash on hand only invites trouble, so groups are urged to arrive at a conservative standard and pass the rest on to be put to use helping others (which is why it was contributed to begin with!)
By application of these principles, money collected is put to use for the benefit of the person still suffering (Tradition 5) and also keeps the group autonomous (Tradition 4). The message of Christ's Healing Power is carried and He is glorified.
A district is a "group of groups" within a geographical area. Two or more groups may choose to form a district for many reasons. The advantages of groups uniting are many. Outreach and Activity committees do well at this level of service. Each group usually designates someone to represent that group at the District meeting and to report back to the group about the District meeting, but everyone is welcome. A district service committee usually consists of the following:
- Vice Chair
- Group Service Representatives (GSRs)
c) Chips & Literature
e) Ad-hoc or steering committees
These service committees allow networking on a much broader base to plan and put on events, share information, help with problems within groups, and promote outreach through public information and HIM ministries. Literature and other supplies can be readily available to groups and can be purchased in bulk at reduced cost. Districts are funded by the participating groups. The District exists to help the individuals by helping the groups.
Suggestions for Overcomers Outreach District Formation
The primary purpose of a District Service Committee is to promote unity among groups and individuals. Just as Overcomers serves
as a “bridge” between 12 step groups and churches of all denominations, so does the committee serve as a bridge between
groups to improve the communication among members and their respective communities, while also providing information to and support
of Group Coordinators. We then can better implement Tradition 5: “The primary purpose of each group is to serve as a
"bridge" between traditional 12 Step groups and the church. We carry the message of Christ's delivering power
to individuals and family members both within and without the church who still suffer.” We do this through outreach to
churches, institutions, 12 step meetings, and the community at large.
The most effective tools for outreach ministry are events, HIM, and PI. The district committee can provide reliable support for these committees. Events hosted by the district allow groups to come together for worship, socializing, and exchanging information on what works and what might be needed at meetings. Service at these events also gets members into action, which enhances personal recovery. HIM panels and or meetings afford the opportunity to share the message of Christ’s delivering power with newcomers and also taps new resources for meeting growth. PI panels or individuals explain our “method of recovery” to the community and concerned individuals such as employers, church staff, hospital staff, etc. and receive the benefits of being in service to our Lord.
A service committee starts with an elected leader (chairperson), a recorder (secretary), representatives from each participating group (GSR), and sub committee leaders for activities, PI, and HIM wherever possible. As the district grows, there will be a need for a treasurer and an alternate leader (vice-chair). After some time, the committee may want to develop guidelines (based on secretary’s minutes of past meetings) to express the decisions made and how they were made. This is done to ensure continuity and allow forward progress based on past results. Leadership should be rotated, and guidelines are very helpful to new leaders. Multiple positions may be held by one individual at first, but should be relinquished at the earliest opportunity to allow others the benefit of service as soon as practical. Example of guidelines for committees, districts, and areas are available under the “Guidelines” link, or by contacting the Central Office toll free at (800)310-3001, or via email.
Tradition4 states: “Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or Overcomers Outreach as a whole.” which means, of course, that participation in the district is voluntary only, and so participation should be attractive to groups. Working together will advance His Kingdom all the more. Paul wrote: “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” 1Cor1:11.
May God see fit to use us together to bless many for His mighty Glory.
When two or more Districts in a geographic area get together, they can form an Area to further unify the efforts of individuals. These meetings are usually quarterly or semi-annual and are made up of representatives of the Districts as well as the groups. Conference events usually occur at this level. All are welcome at area meetings. An area service committee usually consists of the following:
- Vice Chair
- District Service Representatives (DSRs)
- Sub-committee Chairpersons
c) Chips & Literature
e) Ad-hoc or steering committees
At this level the work is more administrative, but equally important. Development and revision of literature, guidelines for outreach
and public relations, website, help-lines, and general information for the groups usually originates from this level.
National conferences and events are planned and implemented at this level, with the help of the Central Office. The Area exists to help the individuals by helping the Districts, which help the groups. The Area is normally funded by the Districts.