It’s very exciting that our popular new Thursday night Portsmouth meeting is helping a lot of members. On the flip side, we are also saddened by this week’s closure of the Saturday morning Rochester meeting.
When we see our meeting struggle, is there anything we can do to turn it around?
Find out the truth
First off, we need to recognize declining attendance before it dwindles to two to four people. Next, we need information. Without information we’re just guessing why the meeting is struggling. While there’s still a committed group, we can take helpful, informative actions such as:
- ask former regulars to honestly say why they left—and listen closely with an open mind
- review the Twelve Traditions to see whether our meeting is keeping to them
- attend a thriving group and ask what their members find helpful about it
- assess our meeting through OA’s Strong Meeting Checklist
- take an honest and thorough OA Group Inventory.
These actions will tell us much about how and why our meeting struggles. As we perform each, we might pray beforehand so that our higher powers can show us the truth. We might not like the answers we get, but by being entirely honest with ourselves and our fellow members and by trusting and relying on our higher powers, we might discover that this process strengthens our personal recoveries too.
Once we know the why of it, what do we do about it? We look back at our group inventory and at the information we’ve gathered. What are the main themes in it? What are the specifics people didn’t get from our meeting or objected to? If we’ve been honest and thorough, the information we’ve gathered will show us the way. We should also ask members at other meetings what experience they’ve had in righting a struggling meeting. Most important, we should ask our higher powers for guidance. We may need to change the day, time, location, room, format, focus, or our attitudes.
As we change our meeting for the better, we can find opportunities to invite back former regulars, conduct a public information campaign in our meeting’s area, and trust the process will bring about the right situation.
We are willing to go to any length to recover from our disease, so we need to ask ourselves what lengths we are willing to go in helping our favorite meeting flourish. If the answer is “not very far,” it’s OK to let a meeting close. But if the meeting is truly important for us, then we need to take action.