Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Receptive Populations? Just Look Next Door

This is the account of one Auxiliary Board member from the Springfield, IL B cluster who went door-to-door with his son, inviting neighbors to a devotional meeting at their house. Particularly interesting is his observation that the receptivity of a population might depend on the Baha’i who is approaching them - the idea that our neighbors might be receptive to hearing about the Faith from us, because they know us personally (or at least share a common neighborhood with us), whereas these same people might not be as open to Faith if they were introduced to it by Baha’is from another area. It gives you a feeling of responsibility, doesn’t it!

After leaving Evanston [IL B-stage cluster] one Sunday, I was reflecting on the experience of direct door to door teaching in Evanston and Aurora [IL A-stage cluster] while driving back to Springfield. . . I thought about the circumstances of these projects and wondered what we can do to increase the rate of successful teaching encounters.

When I got back home, my son and I prepared an invitation card for a neighborhood devotions at our home for Wednesday evening and went out the same afternoon, going door to door in our neighborhood to invite the neighbors. We have lived in this neighborhood for 17 years and sad to say, other than two or three of the neighbors immediately next to us, we have not met anyone else. It is an almost homogeneous, white, middle class, conservative, suburban kind of neighborhood, mostly middle aged couples with grown children.

We knocked on 26 doors. 24 of them were home and opened the door. 22 of them were very happy to talk with us and warmly accepted our invitation. Most of them made comments such as “What a wonderful thing you are doing, of course we will come”. One of them said that they had their own church activity on Wednesday evening. Another one we woke up from an afternoon nap and was not in a happy mood.

Wednesday night was our devotional. 7 households came at 7:30 and stayed till 10:30, 45 minutes for devotions and the rest of the time listening to a direct presentation of the Faith and questions and answers. Two other neighbors telephoned and said how much they wanted to come but one had caught the flu and another had to attend an award ceremony for their son. They wanted to make sure we let them know when the next one will be so they could attend it. All of those who came said that they would like to attend it every time and will spread the word to other neighbors that could not come last night and let them know what a “spiritually enriching” experience it was for them.

Seeing the success of this project which took very little time and effort to plan and implement, we have decided to hold this devotional once a month starting January and use the other three Wednesdays of the month to have a book 1 to invite the neighbors to. Children are almost none existent in the neighborhood, so, children’s classes would not be needed and my son is friends with the few youth in the neighborhood and is working with them directly.

Lesson Learned:

  • Direct teaching in your own neighborhood is very easy and rewarding,
  • Neighbors would never slam the door on a neighbor’s face,
  • It is more likely for a neighbor to accept the invitation of another neighbor than a stranger.
  • Follow up is easy and effective. You are right there.
  • Statistics are: Size of teaching team: 2, Time spent planning and executing door to door campaign: 2 hours, Of the 26 doors that were knocked on, 85% were happy that you stopped by and accepted the invitation, 27% attended the function and were presented with a bold assertion of the fundamental verities of the Faith, 100% of those who attended said they will come back.
  • If it can be done in such a conservative middle class neighborhood, it can be done anywhere.
  • Definition of receptive populations begin to take on a different character when it comes to our own neighborhoods.
Assuming we have 20 Baha’i households in a cluster, if 10 of them would do this in their own neighborhood, they can potentially add 70 households to their community of interest and depending on the makeup of the neighborhood, they can provide children and Jr. youth activities, study circles and devotionals and lead to large number of enrollments in a short time.


Unknown said...

wow. i really appreciate this blog. indeed we are responsible for teaching our neighbors. God does put us where we are for a reason!

I wish you all the best in your endeavors!

Barmak Kusha said...

hi friends, what happened to the way this site was previously organized? the way it is now, it does not have the most recent topics or posts on top anymore...?