Starting A “How It Works” Group

If you want to start a HIW Group, we believe and hope that the following will give you all that you need. What we share with you here is our experience having started many groups in several different cities and towns across two countries.

LOCATION: Most HIW Groups are held in a private facility where the space is rented and is used solely for the purpose of holding meetings. There are also HIW groups or “clubrooms” as our members like to call them that are held in churches, whereas the space is shared with the church. Venues will very depending upon what is available in your area and what you can afford. This is a matter for each founding member to discover for him or herself.

GROUP CONSCIENCE: If your meeting is held in a facility that is your own, that is to say that it will be conducted in a room that you will need to furnish and maintain, then you will need to hold a Group Conscience to vote in the HIW format, the purchase of chairs, tables, coffee maker, powder or liquid cream for the coffee, and every other detail of everything that is done there. If your meeting is held in a church, you may already have furniture available to you, a cleaning service that comes, and food and beverage may not be permitted by the church. In this case, you will only need to hold a Group Conscience meeting that votes in the HIW works format for conducting the meeting. In any event, a Group Conscience meeting should be held to vote in the HIW format and whatever it is that you need too conduct the meeting.

HIW FORMAT: The HIW format is the outline of how a meeting is to be conducted. It is the result of many years of Group Conscience meetings that decided how best to run a meeting. When possible, the format calls for the meetings to be held twice a day, every day of the year. There is a morning and an afternoon meeting. Depending upon the hours that are available to you, it is desirable to have morning meetings at or about 7:00am on the weekdays (a little later is desired for Saturday, Sunday and holidays) and an afternoon meeting at 5:30pm all seven days of the week. Please note that if your meetings are held in a church, you may have to start out having fewer meetings and eventually working your way up to two meetings a day once you have earned their trust. Meetings open with the 3rd step prater and close with the 7th step prayer. The leader sits in the same chair at every meeting and is responsible for opening and closing the meeting on-time. The leader also reads the meeting format. The Preamble, a portion of Chapter 5 “ How It Works” and the 12 steps are read by 3 participants in the meeting that are designated by the leader prior to the meeting’s start. After finishing reading the format, the leader then begins the sharing by identifying and sharing him/herself before passing for a round robin turn of shares as sharing goes around the room. Please see the section on meeting discussion and sharing found in the back of the HIW’s book.

SERVICE POSITIONS: You will want to have a literature person, a treasurer, a secretary, and other positions of service depending upon the needs of maintaining your clubroom in the location that you choose. These positions are usually voted in at Group Conscience meetings. The literature person is responsible for keeping a stocked inventory of big books, daily reading books, chips for various lengths of sobriety, meeting directories, and a phone list. The secretary is responsible for communicating with the landlord and making sure that a schedule of meeting leaders is maintained. Other services positions will vary depending upon your needs and may include positions such as a maintenance person who oversees stocking coffee, cups, cream, paper towels, bathroom items, and anything that needs to be fixed.

MEETING LISTING: As you start your journey, understand that some days in the beginning you may be alone. You need not be concerned. You have made the room and thereby help available. In time, people will show up and your attendance will grow. Be sure to list your meeting schedule with A.A.’s central office in your area, and on any online listings that show meeting times where you are located. Stay the course! We are with you.