By Aaron S.

Ever wonder why the General Service Agenda Topics are such a big deal or what they mean? This post explains how they fit into A.A.’s Primary Purpose—and why your participation is important.

“For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.”  — Tradition Two

Here we are in March, and it’s spring in Alcoholics Anonymous. The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, and the General Service people have started making announcements. We’re going to be having sharing sessions about agenda topics, but while our groups’ representatives seem to think these things are very important, none of them sound like they have anything to do with what we do at meetings. While it might not seem like it, all of this agenda topic stuff is just like a business meetingwe’re taking part in God showing us how to best carry the message to the sick and suffering alcoholic.

A group generally deals with the immediate and tangible decisions about carrying the message. We change the format, collect and spend the 7th Tradition funds, and elect trusted servants so that we can best welcome newcomers to Alcoholics Anonymous. We help them work the steps and find a way of living that really works. Although almost no one enjoys business meetings, everyone can agree that this stuff needs to get figured out and that the process needs to be guided by a power greater than ourselves. Generally gracefully, with the Principles and Traditions as guides, we practice the 2nd Tradition and let God speak through our group conscience.

Agenda topics are simply the same process practiced over all of Canada and the U.S. They include discussions about A.A. literature, how money is collected and spent, and how the trustees can best serve the fellowship. It may not seem like these things are always related to carrying the message, but each topic is chosen and discussed specifically because they relate to our Primary Purpose. And just like every member has a voice in the group, each group has a voice in A.A.  Agenda topics are each of us participating in the 2nd Tradition on a continent-wide scale.

Each one of us can make a difference in the discussion, both at our home groups and nationwide.  Have you heard the quiet person at the back of the room at a business meeting say something that changed how you felt about a discussion, or watched the minority opinion completely flip a vote? Without each voice, however quiet, hesitant, or unpopular, the group could not best welcome the newcomer. Without each group’s voice, even if it doesn’t seem important, all of us in A.A. can’t do the best job of reaching out when someone needs help.

Some of the General Service terms like agenda topics, area assembly, delegate, and conference make things seem esoteric and annoying. The truth is, though, that what we do in March is really just us coming together, across North America, to practice the 2nd Tradition.  Without your voice, your group cannot have a clear and strong conscience.  Without your group’s conscience, A.A.s everywhere can’t hear so clearly, and with such strength, the voice of a loving God as expressed through all of us together.

Participate in your groups’ Agenda Topic meetings, so that your voice may be heard.