Starting Your Own Meeting

Becoming a Convenor

When you have made a solid start on your recovery from drinking/drugging, you will probably find that you can see more clearly where you have come from and where you are going. You may see that the support you have received from your LifeRing meetings has profoundly changed your life for the better. The key to more meetings is you. Meetings don’t grow on trees. Someone has to start them. Someone who sees the need for recovering people to have choices. Someone who can say “LifeRing works for me.” Someone who has found a new energy and purpose. Someone who knows that helping others is a great way to help yourself. Someone who wants to give something back. You.

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The word ‘convenor’ means “people who bring people together.” When you start, facilitate, or support a LifeRing meeting,the essence of your effort is to bring people together in recovery. LifeRing convenors are the vital connectors at the centers of the LifeRing support network. LifeRing convenors are ordinary people in recovery, but they are also very special. Read this page to find out whether you can be a convenor, and, if so, how you can get started.

Seven reasons to become a convenor (from Convenor's Blog and 'How Was Your Week')

1. It Helps My Recovery

Being a convenor can be helpful to one's personal sobriety in several obvious ways. For example, the convenor is expected to appear at the meeting on a regular basis, and any kind of regular sobriety practice is usually an effective recovery tool. The convenor has a higher profile as a person in recovery than the average participant, and is therefore likely to have a larger and more active support network. Acting as convenor involves a deeper emotional commitment to recovery than the average person. Relapsing while in the convenor role would be a serious setback not only for the convenor (it would end their current usefulness as convenor) but also for others in the meeting who may have come to look to the convenor as a role model. For these and similar reasons, many persons who already have their personal recovery programs well launched choose to take up the convenor role for its ongoing supportive benefits.


2. To Give Something Back

A second reason to become a convenor is gratitude. When I decided I had to do something about my drinking, I found a support group already functioning and available to me. A handful of convenors had arranged for the room, put out literature, and got the meeting up and running. I derived an enormous lifetime personal benefit from their effort. Most newcomers are in a similar situation. After one accumulates some sobriety time one begins to feel grateful to the group. The dollar or two that the average member puts into the basket falls far short of compensation either for the benefit one has received or for the effort that others expend to keep the group running. Donating one's time as convenor is one way to show gratitude and give something back.

3. Because of the Golden Rule

A third reason to become a convenor is similar to gratitude, but on a different level. It is based on the golden rule of ethics: what goes around, comes around. When I sowed addiction, I reaped addiction and fed on despair. Becoming a convenor is an ethical affirmation of one's individual responsibility for the messages circulating in the social network. The convenor sows a message of sobriety and prepares a harvest of hope and positive transformation.

4. For More Meaning in Life

A fourth reason to become a convenor is to reach a higher sense of meaningfulness in one's life. Meaning in life arises from connectedness with others. Drugs and alcohol led many people into social isolation, or into a set of phantom relationships with drinking/­drugging partners or codependents. Participating in a self-help recovery group over time means re-connecting with people (or connecting for the first time) and establishing authentic relationships. This is a great improvement, and it is enough for many people. However, some people seek a meaning in life beyond self-repair and self-transformation. Becoming a convenor is a way of dedicating oneself to a mission of service to others, and this can yield a deeper sense of purpose and direction in one's life.

5. Because Someone Has To Do It

A fifth reason why people become Life­Ring convenors is because they feel that something has to be done. Despite more than 50 years of nearly everyone being funneled into recovery on the twelve-step pattern, the drug and alcohol problem shows no signs of abatement. There is a great deal of room for improvement in the way we as a society approach the issue. Someone has to step in and help build another road. The Life­Ring convenor is the agent of an unspoken social consensus that it is time to give people a meaningful choice of recovery paths.

6. Because It Feels Good

A sixth reason why people become Life­Ring convenors is for the emotional rewards. The convenor's efforts frequently result in profound changes for the better in others' lives. To be a witness to so much transformation is already a privilege. To be a catalyst in such a process can stir one's feelings with indescribable force, bringing up tears of gladness. When I leave a meeting at which things have gone well, I feel a sense of warmth in my gut, unlike any other satisfaction I have experienced. Being a convenor not only does good, it feels good.

7. Because Convening is Love

A seventh and final reason why people become convenors is love. When people have been clean and sober for some time, they sometimes feel an upwelling of love pent up inside during the long winter of their addiction. Now it surges out of them and seeks an object. No flesh-and-blood person has sufficient magnitude to absorb this force. It requires a transcendent object. The role of convenor affords such overflowing love a worthy channel. Love the good in bad people. Nurture the health in people who are ill. Take people whose instinct is to hide and isolate, and bring them together. Connect them, protect them as they recover their self-respect and exercise their sober legs. Bringing people together in recovery is a transcendent embrace. To convene is to love.

So, who can be a LifeRing convenor?

Anyone with a personal history of recovery from addictive substances who has at least six months continuous clean and sober time can be a LifeRing convenor. In some situations, people become convenors earlier. Occasionally, treatment professionals with no personal recovery history start LifeRing meetings, but the aim is to turn the meeting over to a person in recovery as soon as possible.

Do I have to take a test to be a convenor?

No. It is useful for convenors to be familiar with LifeRing literature — particularly How Was Your Week?, the convenor’s handbook — but no exam is required. Convenors are peers in recovery. They are not treatment professionals and do not need a license or certificate. However, being a convenor can be very educational. Some veteran LifeRing convenors could probably teach classes in addiction recovery, based on their personal experience and readings. High among the qualities that make a good convenor is being a good listener, being modest, and having a positive outlook.

What kinds of things do convenors do?

Convenors make connections among people in recovery, between recovering people and relevant publics, and with other convenors. Here are some examples:

Convenors facilitate meetings. They set up the room and the literature, organize the box of meeting supplies, welcome people as they come in, invite someone to read the opening statement, get the conversation started, keep people on topic if necessary, move things along, take care of signup sheets, pass the basket, and lead the applause at the closing. Convenors start meetings. They find suitable meeting rooms, order LifeRing literature, get the word out, and make a commitment to be there for as long as it takes the meeting to get off the ground. Convenors of online meetings act as moderators of the social network, the chat rooms, forums, or email lists. They contribute content to the LifeRing web sites. Convenors get the word out. Convenors make contact with treatment professionals and other referral sources. They make sure that flyers and schedules are posted and available wherever people might need them. They may speak to recovery audiences, classrooms, and the general public about the LifeRing approach. Convenors sometimes talk to the press and appear on radio and TV if invited.  Convenors connect with other convenors. They stay in contact with the LifeRing Service Center. They attend convenor workshops where available. They participate in convenor email lists and chats, and read and discuss convenor literature. Convenors help prepare for the annual LifeRing Congress and may be Congress Delegates. Convenors may become members of the LifeRing Board of Directors and/or officers of LifeRing Inc. Convenors may act as writers, editors, publicists, accountants, fundraisers, administrators, or do other useful work not directly connected with a particular meeting. Any role that brings people together in recovery the LifeRing way, directly or indirectly, is a LifeRing convenor role.

What resources exist for convenors?

The mission of the LifeRing Service Center in Oakland CA is to “Serve the Meetings.” The Service Center is a primary resource for LifeRing convenors. From a friendly ear to a range of material supplies, the volunteers at the Service Center can help you get a new meeting off the ground or grow one that exists. You contact the Service center here. Among other resources, the Service Center can:

Send you a customized Meeting Starter Kit with all the literature and supplies you need to get going.

Send you a LifeRing meeting charter.

Point you to the LifeRing convenor email list and the Convenor Blog.

Post your meeting on this website and keep your listing updated as you provide new information.

Provide you with contact information for your area.

Do mailings to treatment professionals and programs in your area to let them know about your meeting.

Keep you posted about events and publications of interest to LifeRing convenors.

Refer people who call or email the Service Center from your area to your meeting.

What are the rewards of being a convenor?

The LifeRing convenor’s main reward is the satisfaction of being useful in other people’s recovery. For many, the convenor role also solidifies their own recovery and gives them a much deeper insight into life. For a person whose past life may have been isolated and centered on drugs or alcohol, the experience of being a LifeRing convenor is like living in a whole new world. Convenors are connected. Convenors matter. Convenors are midwives to seeming miracles of healing and recovery. Convenors can hold up their heads and look people in the eye. Convenors become walking storehouses of collected wisdom. Convenors earn appreciation and respect. Convenors are important. Convenors make no money; in fact, they may dig in their pockets to meet incidental expenses. But the warm feeling that comes from helping others —priceless.