Group Inventory in Action – Mark_Lifeline2016

The only thing an alcoholic may find more boring than a group business meeting is reading about a group business meeting.  With that in mind, I will try to make this as painless as possible and stick to my experience and the experiences of the groups I have belong to.

During my first years of sobriety, I could have cared less about how my group was functioning.  I just wanted to stay sober and I was glad that my sponsor and the group were there.  Then, after a couple of years I became more interested in what was going on in my group.  It was then that I realized that my group had its own shortcomings just like any alcoholic.

After switching groups around 4 years sober, I got involved with a group that was conducting regular business meetings and group inventories.  Once a quarter, they would hold a group inventory and ask the group inventory questions from the pamphlet “The AA Group … Where it All Begins”.  The pamphlet suggests holding group inventories and periodically asking questions such as “What is the basic purpose of our group?” and “Do new members stick with us or does the turnover seem excessive?”

I found these group inventories to be a little boring, yes but also comforting.  It was nice to know that there was a place for our group to explore our shortcomings together.  If I don’t continue to take a personal inventory, my defects are not going to do away.  And the same is for the group.

Of course, now I had found the “right way” to hold business meetings and how to conduct a group.  I moved to a couple of different states over the next few years and I learned that groups that had been around for 10 – 20 years were not so interested in learning about the “right way” to do Alcoholics Anonymous.  There were a few painful business meetings where I voiced my minority opinion with self righteous fervor.  Luckily, most of the other members just listed patiently.

As I learned I could not completely change a homegroup, I could positively influence by acting in a positive way and voicing my opinion when appropriate.  I also learned that I did not need to change every group I belonged to.  I also learned that if I did not really like the group, I could always change homegroups.

Today, I am part of a homegroup that also has regular business meetings.  We have business meetings once a month where we elect for coffee, greater, set-up, and take-down positions.  And then once a quarter, we meet at a members house to go over our group inventory.  We typically make it a fellowship event that last for about 2 hours.  The first hour is spent socializing and eating.  And then the second hour we have the meeting.

During the first half hour of the meeting, we go over minutes from the last group conscious meeting and any group business.  And then for about 20 minutes we will ask the questions from the AA Group pamphlet or from The Traditions Checklist from the AA Grapevine.  It is an open group format and everyone is encouraged to participate.  It is the chairperson’s responsibility to keep the meeting on topic.  We have recently transitioned to using the Traditions Checklist from the AA Grapevine and only going over one tradition at a time.

In this way, our group as a channel for members to voice their frustrations and hopes for the group.  It is also a great way for the group to reflect how we are doing on meeting the checklist.

That is the way my group does it today.  I did not invent this system.  I am just lucky enough to be a part of it. And I am also luck enough to remember most of the time that this is not the only right way to conduct a group business meeting and inventory


– Mark


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