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Some reflections on the teaching method used in an Intensive Program of Growth by an experienced teacher

I have also learned, and I think this is one of the main lessons being learned in IPG/direct teaching campaigns worldwide, that when receptive souls are invited into the Cause based on just having experienced a “spark” of the conflagration which Baha’u’llah has ignited, they come in–and they come from all backgrounds and temperaments. They matriculate into the worldwide university of the Faith, and then begin the learning process once they are in.

The Centre for the Study of the TextsThe presentations we are using are carefully designed to enable us to be the channels of the Holy Spirit which produce this “spark”, and always includes an invitation to join our faith community (or, if they indicate they are not quite ready to declare, they are invited to join our core activities as a seeker). The core activities are designed to help fan this spark into a flame. In effect, we have been given permission to go out and invite most everyone into the Faith in this manner. (The only proviso being that the Core agencies will turn on and off the number of new enrollments based on the ability of the community to absorb them).

Through Richard Hoff’s and others’ training I have realized that we can all be trained to be better and more effective channels of the Holy Spirit, in this regard, and that one result of that increased effectiveness is the ability to ask the “question” [of whether a person is willing to join] in a simple and loving manner addressed to the heart, which rarely, if ever, offends anyone. In fact, I have found, that my sometimes inability to invite receptive souls into the Faith has everything to do with my own hang-ups and little to do with the seeker’s readiness or lack thereof. Even though I am fairly experienced at doing this direct teaching and inviting I still often get “stage fright” (which means my ego gets in the way and the Holy Spirit goes away–at least temporarily).

Just last week, door to door teaching in a small Texas town, three times I judged or rationalized that seekers whom I was teaching were “not ready”, and I was about to leave them with an invitation to a future visit or activity, until each one of the seekers (really the Holy Spirit working through their souls) clobbered me with signs that they were indeed ready and needed to be asked–so I did, and they did (declared). Part of it is in the presentation of the question, and this is where training comes in.

(used with the author’s kind permission)

* * * * * * * *

Baha’u’llah and the Master have both urged us repeatedly to disregard
our own handicaps and lay our whole reliance upon God. He will come to
our help if we only arise and become an active channel for God’s
grace. Do you think it is the teachers who make converts and change
human hearts? No, surely not. They are only pure souls who take the
first step, and then let the spirit of Baha’u’llah move them and make
use of them…

Shoghi Effendi will surely pray for your success if you should arise
and start to teach. In fact the mere act of arising will win for you
God’s help and blessings.

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

http://www.bahai-library.org/compilations/guidelines.teaching.html

(Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)

Learning from Palm Beach’s Intensive Program of Growth (US, FL, 28 April)

In the few months since its launch, there were 41 new enrolments following a collective door-to-door teaching project. Here are some of the insights that have been gained as the friends have reflected on their experiences so far:

Explore and analyze the receptivity of the neighborhood well in advance of the expansion phase.

Concentrate on one community with receptive populations and avoid diverting teaching teams to less receptive areas.

Include newly enrolled believers as part of a teaching team when they demonstrate enthusiasm for teaching.

Give attention to teaching junior youth.

Youth who become Bahá’ís are very eager to teach their friends.

On-going follow-up activities with seekers are extremely important.

(http://teaching.bahai.us/2008/04/it-has-been-few-months-since-palm-beach.html)

Olive trees in the gardens around the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh

The power of prayer (USA, Southern region, 28 April)

Here is a moving story from one of the friends in an A cluster in the southern region, during a collective teaching project. This account of a couple’s declaration is a testament to the power of prayer, patience and confidence:

As my teaching team partner and I were walking around the complex we kept running into a man who was very friendly. Then we saw him in his house and my heart guided me to say “Hi” since his door was wide open. So we then introduced ourselves and very enthusiastically, but respectfully, said to the man and his wife: “We are here to share a beautiful message with you on unity and love and I would be most happy to give you this wonderful presentation.”

They welcomed us into their home. The couple sat in their living room while I started the presentation. While I spoke, my teaching partner silently recited the Tablet of Ahmad. This is an important learning for me. Prayer is the essential component because it helps one find receptive souls and be in tune with them when teaching.

During the presentation, the husband said, “I love this because Bahá’u’lláh championed the cause of justice, helped the poor, and the goal is unity.” With the help of the Concourse on High and my teaching partner’s prayers, I gave the rest of the presentation. I then invited both of them into the Faith—and then invited them again. I showed them the enrolment card and explained that joining the Faith is a simple process. “If you feel that Bahá’u’lláh is the Manifestation of God, you are a Bahá’í.”

We welcomed them into the Faith as they both signed their enrolment cards. We presented them with a copy of a prayer and invited them to join a Ruhi 1 study circle. Before we left, at the couple’s suggestion, we shared a prayer together.

(http://teaching.bahai.us/2008/04/here-is-moving-story-from-one-of.html)

(Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)

I came accross this interesting report on an email teaching list (“pilgrim1”):

A brief introduction to Richard Hoff’s Effective Teaching Workshop (which helped three teams find 6 new believers and over a dozen contacts for core activities in one weekend of teaching in Wichita Falls, TX, “C” cluster):
.
Richard Hoff is one of the preeminent teachers of the Baha’i Faith in America, having been the instrument, together with his dear wife, Pauline, for the Holy Spirit to bring into the Faith in this country more new believers consistently over a long period of time–over 50 years—-earning him the station of “the Learned of Baha”, as indicated in the Kitab-i-Aqdas. Notwithstanding this fact he is constantly learning to be a more effective teacher by continually refining his teaching skills, methods and process. In his “Effective Teaching Workshop” participants learn from his wealth of experience to effectively:
.
  • Reach out and make new friends of former “strangers”, sometimes instantly in the first meeting.
  • Build instant rapport and trust with potential seekers, before presenting the Faith to them through Anna’s or other presentations.
  • Use the tool of “praise” in teaching and life.
  • Teach to the heart of the seeker, rather than just to the head,
  • Invite receptive souls into the Faith.
  • Follow-up new believers and receptive souls with a loving and personal approach, while inviting them to the core activities and other activities.
  • Use Anna’s presentation and other approaches to fulfill the needs of the individual seeker.

(Used with the author’s permission)

Olive trees in the gardens around the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh

The children of men are all brothers, and the prerequisites of brotherhood are manifold. Among them is that one should wish for one’s brother that which one wisheth for oneself. Therefore, it behoveth him who is the recipient of an inward or outward gift or who partaketh of the bread of heaven to inform and invite his friends with the utmost love and kindness. If they respond favourably, his object is attained; otherwise he should leave them to themselves without contending with them or uttering a word that would cause the least sadness. This is the undoubted truth, and aught else is unworthy and unbecoming.

Bahá’u’lláh, The Tabernacle of Unity, p. 24

(Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)

“Meet me at the pool” (USA, CA, 25 April)

…witness the power of the younger generation. Here are two inspiring stories from a teaching team consisting of a junior youth, a youth and an adult. Anyone can teach, and teaching can occur anywhere . . . so see you at the pool!

A 14-year old boy opened the door and showed interest in the presentation. He listened attentively. N and A were excited! A short while later, this wonderful boy declared! The new believer wanted to be visited again when his parents would be home to sign his enrollment card. This second visit will provide an opportunity for the team to introduce the Faith to the boy’s parents.

An American gentleman opened his door. Surprised to see the team, he asked what they wanted. Hearing the explanation, he said, “I am leaving now. Could you meet me in ten minutes at the pool?” The team happily accepted to do so. Before ten minutes had passed, the team met another wonderful gentleman who listened for 45 minutes to the entire presentation, given mostly by the youth and junior youth. He kept the declaration card and agreed to be visited again. His wife, who had apparently been watching the team from upstairs, kindly sent four glasses of juice to the team and her husband, a wonderful sign of receptivity and generosity. After they left the home, the team went to the pool to meet the first man, but they were worried they would not find him because of the delay. But he was still there; they apologized for the delay and explained the reason. He warmly received the team, listened to the introduction, and then personally read each page of Anna’s presentation. He asked questions, gave some favorable comments, read the final prayer and then signed his declaration card at that blessed pool site!

It is so delightful to see how our Baha’i junior youth and youth can touch the hearts of their listeners simply by their sincerity, audacity and, above all, by this marvelous Anna’s presentation.

(Report from Thousand Oaks) (http://teaching.bahai.us/2008/04/what-delight-in-thousand-oaks-ca-which.html)

The Power of Youth (from USA, WA, 25 April)

The guiding lights in our young people continued to shine as one…team [member] contacted a family that had previously been introduced to the Faith, to see if they would like to participate in a Book 1 study circle. They were eager to do so, inviting the team member to come over right away. The whole family, including the parents and two teenagers, are all set to start the book, with two young people as the tutors.

And further news: A team of two carried out a home visit, sharing what they felt was a very awkward Anna’s Presentation. Their friend, however, thought it was a wonderful message and declared her belief in Bahá’u’lláh on the spot! She went even further, calling the team later to ask for a Book 1 study circle to start next week. She also arranged for her husband and two friends to join her.

(Report from the intensive program of growth occurring in Whatcom-Skagit Counties, WA.) http://teaching.bahai.us/2008/04/more-stories-from-intensive-program-of.html

 The entrance door to the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh

(News from Massachusetts – Dorchester and Cambridge, 22 April:)

Dear Friends,

After two days of intensive teaching, we had 4 people verbally declare their belief in Baha’u’llah, 1 adult declaration and 3 youth/junior youth who accepted Baha’u’llah but wanted to consult with their parents.

Here are the statistics from the 2 days!

Dorchester

  • 247 doors were knocked on
  • 74 people wanted return visits
  • 4 declarations

Cambridge

  • 329 doors were knocked on
  • 35 people wanted return visits

Learning 

  • Receptive souls will be willing to hear Anna’s presentation and declare as a result
  • Prayer partner works: some people felt they couldn’t give Anna’s presentation as effectively without having a prayer partner there.
  • Short intro works, “Hi, we’re Baha’is, we’d like to share with you a presentation about the Baha’i Faith. Have you heard of the Baha’i Faith?” And then start the presentation.
  • Conversation tangents may occur but always bring things back to the Faith
  • Instead of “Do you want to join the Baha’i community”, the intention is to ask “Do you believe Baha’u’llah is the Messenger of God for today?”
  • If follow-up is needed, exchange contact information and schedule a specific time

See you all next week!

With much love
the Area Teaching Committee

 (Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)

…the couple looked to relocate…

Appropriately, they sought guidance from the Regional Bahá’í Council…

The Council’s homefront pioneering office sent them a list of priority clusters, and armed with that they set about listening to clusters’ needs and trying to “decide who we could be the most help to,” recalls Margie.

When the dust settled, Margie and Fariborz and two children still in high school found themselves in New Berlin in the B-stage Waukesha County cluster.

As for their own service, Margie and Fariborz, after much prayer, decided to start a musical fireside.

“The idea was the local Bahá’ís could show off their musical talent and invite their friends,” explained Margie. “Musical talent, however, is not a requirement, as many come just to enjoy the music.”

Each fireside begins with a potluck dinner and social hour. Then the musical portion starts with a prayer and the reading of Bahá’í writings on music.

“At the last fireside, there were three members of the community of interest who were very inspired, and at their follow-ups requested more information about the Bahá’í Faith and promised to be back,” reports Margie.

(“Homefront pioneers help ignite two clusters“, The American Bahá’í – Published: 4/4/2008 http://www.usbnc.org/tab/news/templates/layout1.aspx?articleid=2947&zoneid=3)

(From US, Virginia:)

Saturday afternoon – our most successful results to date!

We went out into an interested neighborhood with three teams of teachers (7 Bahai friends) and Baha’u’llah guided us to several souls who invited us into their home to hear the presentation. We invited the friends [probably those approached – A.] to share a prayer with us when they did not have time to hear the presentation, and this was very positive.

Monday – A new Bahá’í!

We welcomed our newest member into the Bahai Faith this evening following dinner and Anna’s presentation. She is 21 years old and an undergraduate student. Hip Hip Hooray!

We’ve learned that inviting our friends to come to our home to have dinner and hear a presentation about the Faith is well received! We follow up the presentation with a clear and direct invitation to become of member of this beloved community.

http://teaching.bahai.us/2008/04/south-hampton-roads-menh-b-cluster.html

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