For the past three of four years, and particularly in 2003, scarcely a day goes by that someone does not phone, fax, email, or mail me a request on how to start a Big Book/Bible Study Group in AA, How to hold an old-time, early AA meeting, What to do with a recovery group started by a church, a para church, or a group of AAs who want to focus on the early AA Christian Fellowship, reliance on the Creator, Bible Study, and the “old fashioned prayer meetings” as they were frequently called.
Each communicant has a different agenda, a different point of origin, and a unique recovery group or church community background.
Hence, I have found it helpful to have each person supply me directly with the following:
1. Their name, mail address, phone number, email, and website, if any.
2. A brief statement of their alcoholism or addiction story.
3. The length of their continuous sobriety or freedom from addiction.
4. Their religion, church or group, and religious beliefs.
5. Whether they believe in the Creator, have accepted Christ, and are willing to lead.
6. Their familiarity with the Big Book, taking the Twelve Steps, and a fellowship
7. The name, address, religion, and faith beliefs of their pastor or priest, if any.
8. The number of people they plan to reach at the beginning.
9. The immediate financial resources they have for acquiring start-up literature.
10. Whether they have read my books, and, if any, the books they’ve read.
When the foregoing have been answered by phone, email, or other communication, I welcome personal calls by phone to discuss moving forward and initial guidance.
Suggested Format for Recovery Group Meetings
Open the Meeting as Follows:
This is the regular meeting of the (i.e.) God’s Way Recovery Group.
My name is "alias", and I am your secretary.
We will open the meeting with a moment of silence to do with as you wish.
Followed by a prayer; and the secretary or chosen person prays (i.e.)
“Heavenly Father. We ask in the name of Jesus Christ for your blessing on this meeting of those who are here to overcome their life-controlling problems such as alcoholism, addictions, and other dependencies. We ask that your wisdom and guidance show us your will for our lives, your way to victory, and how we may glorify you in all that we do here.”
This group patterns its work after that of the first Alcoholics Anonymous Group, which was formed in Akron, Ohio; stressed the Bible; was known as AA Number One, was a Christian Fellowship, and relied on the Creator to overcome the problems of the members. To the same end, we’ll review several verses from the Bible that guided them in their work:
God’s love: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)
God’s will: “Who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4)
God’s word of faith: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom 10:9)
His Word is truth: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17)
Faith in God: “But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him: (Heb 11:6)
Obeying God: “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promises” (Heb 10:35-3 6)
God’s Two Great Commandments: “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt 22:37-40)
Forget not all his benefits: “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies. Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:3-5)
The Gospel: “And he [Jesus] said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shalt they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; thy shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover: (Mark 16:15-18)
Early AAs believed that the solution to all their problems was in the Good Book—the Bible. The Book of James was their favorite. In fact, A.A. co-founder Dr. Bob declared that James, the sermon on the mount, and 1 Corinthians 13 were all considered “absolutely essential.” The Society considered it vital that they seek, find, know, and establish a relationship and fellowship with God. Also vital that they study the Book of Acts to see what Christians could and should do by reason of the teachings and accomplishments of Jesus Christ before he ascended to heaven to be at the right hand of his Father, Yahweh, the Creator.
Tonight’s session will be divided into three parts.
First, I will select someone to read (i.e.) the first two (or more) chapters of James. Second, I will select someone to read the guide prepared for us by A.A. historian Dick B. concerning these two chapters and the A.A. program. Third, I’ll open the meeting briefly for comments and discussion on these items.
We will then have a period where each of us in the group may pray to God and to seek His guidance in respect of our own lives.
Then, we ask that newcomers raise their hands so that we can get to know you. Please talk to someone after the meeting, give them your name and phone number, and get theirs so that you may call them for prayers, help, and support. During the period you are working at recovery God’s way, keep company with believers – whether in shopping, recreation, sports, church, meetings, schools, meals, and so on. See Acts chapters 1 – 4 for what they did in the First Century that sustained their believing and carried the message.
For those who have not yet been born again of God’s spirit, please either see your pastor and do so with that person if you wish, or see me after the meeting; and we will have a brief ceremony where individually you can confess Jesus as your Lord and confirm in your heart that God raised him from the dead. This was called a “surrender” in early AA.
Literature is available for purchase or order at the table in the rear. Be sure to read your Bibles and pray each day. Our next meeting will be on _____________.
We will close the meeting by joining hands in a circle and saying the Lord’s Prayer, which will be led by __________. Thank you all for coming. Please join us again.
Suggestions for Members of the Group
Suggestions for the individual to follow daily:
Abstain. Under no circumstances, indulge in your temptation problem – alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, lust, over-eating, etc.
Be sure to seek medical help for withdrawal, sweats, shaking, etc.
Thank God for all the blessings – name them – blessings that you already have.
Ask God in the name of Jesus Christ to heal you of your temptation, to forgive you for your mistakes, to guide you and instruct you to safe habits, friends, places, and activities.
Determine that you will change your life by following God’s commandments as they are set out in the Bible.
Renew your mind in your reading, thinking, speaking – filling it with simple ideas such as those in Philippians 4:8, 1 John 4:8, and Ephesians 1:19.
Call other believers for prayers, company, joint reading, activities.
Begin immediately finding someone you can help even if it is by phoning them, giving them rides, joining them for an activity, reading the Bible with them, or simply keeping fellowship with that person.
Don’t give up! Don’t give in. Read James 4:7: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you
Suggested reading for individuals or the group:
Read slowly, bit by bit, the Gospels, Acts, and go on with Romans, etc.
Read Dick B.’s Why Early AAs Succeeded (a Bible study guide)
Use it, beginning at Chapter 4, for individual Bible study or Group Bible study.
Read Psalms such as 23, 31, 56, 91; Proverbs 3:5-6.
Filling your hours:
A job, volunteer work, exercise, sports, wholesome recreation, school, reading.
Heed the old AA adage: Don’t get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.
A Sponsor: Ask someone who has a sound Christian life to be your contact and “sponsor.” Keep in touch. Share your problems as long as your contact provides you with prayers, Bible segments to read, and positive solutions – not just sympathetic listening, or some secular experience or solution.
Other Meetings Your Group Can Hold
First, consult the Creator for guidance as to content and leader.
1 meeting a week resembling the above original AA meeting
1 meeting a week on early AA History
1 meeting a week simply reading the Bible – using the Bible study primer
1 meeting a week teaching the Big Book chapter by chapter
1 meeting a week studying a step and its origins (using my Twelve Steps Book)
1 meeting a week on Steps 10, 11, 12, particularly explaining what is involved in
a real Quiet Time: (1) Born again of God’s spirit. (2) Reading from the Word. (3) Prayer to God with thanksgiving, praise, seeking guidance, seeking healing, seeking forgiveness, asking help for others. (4) Asking for revelation from God for any message He wishes to give. (5) Using devotionals like The Upper Room, The Runner’s Bible, My Utmost for His Highest.
Read the Big Book instructions on Steps 10 and 11
As to Step 12, (1) Note that the original “spiritual experience” was acceptance of Christ (Romans 10:9), being born again of the Spirit (John 3:1-8), and receiving t the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-8). (2) Note that the “message” that was to be passed on was: “God has done for me what I could not do for myself.” (3) Note that the primary “principles” to be practiced are those specified in 1 Corinthians 13, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), the two Great Commandments – love God and love your neighbor (Mark 12:28-31); serving (Mark 10:42-45); and witnessing (Matthew 28:18-20).
Dr. Bob cited all the foregoing verses. He emphasized that the steps could be simmered down to their essence – love and service. He concluded his personal Story by assuring AAs that “Your Heavenly Father will never let you down.” Twenty-five years later, Rev. Sam Shoemaker was addressing A.A. conventions and declaring that a “spiritual awakening” involves four things: (1) Conversion. (2) Prayer. (3) Fellowship, and (4) Witnessing.
Suggested Resources Your Group Should Acquire
1. As many copies of the Big Book (4th ed.) as there are members – Plus at least one reprint of the 1st Edition, and Poe’s Concordance to the Big Book.
2. As many Bibles (preferably King James Version) as there are members – Plus Young’s Concordance to the Bible.
3. A reference set of the Dick B. Titles (17) – discounted price.
4. As many of the following Dick B. titles for each as there are members (available at a 50% discount plus s & h)
The Good Book and The Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible.
Why Early A.A. Succeeded (Bible study primer)
When Early AAs Were Cured. And Why.
Good Morning: Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation
Twelve Steps for You