What is a convenor? A convenor is a LifeRing member who leads a regular meeting of other LifeRing members. If you want to start your own meeting, you are about to become 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. It is normal for people at this point to feel grateful and to look for a way to give something back.
You can, of course, give money. LifeRing operates on a shoestring and donations are always needed and welcome. But you can also give something more precious than money: your time and your abilities.
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.
How Was Your Week (HWYW)
Bringing people together in recovery the LifeRing Way
A Convenor’s Handbook
How was your week? is the starter topic for most LifeRing meetings — an invitation to report on the person’s recovery work since the last meeting, and look forward to the challenges of the coming week. This book describes the deeper healing processes that are at work beneath the surface of this simple format and empowers the meeting facilitator to set these forces in motion and keep them on track.
How Was Your Week? is a handbook for the core members of the LifeRing network: the people who start and lead LifeRing meetings, or perform other services that keep the organization humming. To “convene” means to bring people together. Bringing people together in recovery the LifeRing way is what LifeRing meeting facilitators do, which is why they are known in the organization as “convenors.”
The book covers the basic model of the LifeRing recovery process: the division of the addicted mind into an addict self (A) and a sober self (S). It outlines the fundamental process at work in LifeRing meetings: empowerment of the sober self. It explains the proper role of the convenor in facilitating this process. It looks at the dynamics at work in the meeting room. It discusses common issues and problems that may arise and suggests methods of handling them. The work also looks at the nuts and bolts of the meeting framework, such as door signs, signup sheets, passing the basket, and distributing literature. There is a chapter on the LifeRing process online in chat rooms and other web venues, and a chapter on the annual LifeRing Congress.
Discussion of the basic philosophy of LifeRing — the three S — is a major portion of the book. Chapters on Sobriety (Abstinence), Secularity, and Self-Help offer the deepest and most detailed analysis of these foundations in print. A separate chapter introduces the basics of building a personal recovery program. Although aimed primarily at the convenor, the book is accessible to anyone who wants a deeper understanding of what LifeRing is about.
A major chapter (Ch. 15) outlines the work involved in starting a new LifeRing meeting. Everything is covered here from the initial contacts to the final successful passing of the baton. This chapter is the indispensable guide for the pioneers who establish a LifeRing presence in new territory.
An excerpt from the book, consisting of the first two chapters plus Table of Contents and Index, is available for free download on this website at Selections from HWYW in pdf format. To purchase How Was Your Week? online, please go to the LifeRing Bookstore. Originally published in 2003, How Was Your Week? is now in its second edition (2015). This edition is updated, expanded, easier to read, and professionally printed and bound with a handsome full-color cover.
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 the general public, 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 websites.
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 when available. They participate in the convenor email lists, online chat, read and discuss convenor literature, etc... Convenors help prepare for the annual LifeRing Congress and can be Congressional Delegates. Convenors may also 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 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.
If becoming a convenor is your way to give something back, please look to the following resources: