Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Collective Effort to Launch Neighborhood Children’s Classes

­This story from the Cleveland, OH (B) cluster describes the approach one group of Bahá’ís made to ensure a successful event for neighborhood parents and the warm response that they received. It highlights many elements often mentioned as being particularly successful, such as taking collective action in teams, use of Anna’s presentation, and visiting homes to establish personal connections.

“The best story I’ve got for neighborhood children’s classes is from Cleveland where one family held a four day teaching campaign. In the mornings we studied Anna’s presentation and in the afternoon we went out looking for opportunities to give the presentation. The end goal was a devotional meeting directed towards establishing a children’s class.

I think two things we did were important. One was little cards we made with a prayer for children and the national website. The other was invitations for a back-to-school party at the couples’ house on a Sunday afternoon. The approach we took with people was, “Come have some food; we want to get to know our neighbors. We’re also concerned about our children, and we were wondering if you would come pray for the children of the neighborhood.” Twelve adults and fifteen children came to this from probably about 8 households and they were all very supportive. Almost all of the families are intending to send their kids to weekly neighborhood children’s classes that will be starting. We have just been scrambling to find teachers to teach three of four classes for kids aged 2-13. People who had no children were even taking invitations to offer to their friends.

We learned a lot from the invitation phase, too. One day we went to the bus stop and gave the prayer cards to mothers we saw. They always really appreciated the prayers. On very evangelical couples shared prayers with us right there standing in their driveway. So what we learned was that we don’t need to be afraid, and that if we extend invitations, people will come. It’s also important that the Yates had lived there a while and built up relationships with the neighbors. Knowing some of the families for years creates a lot of trust. I’ve seen that in several clusters.

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