Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Systematic focus on the community of interest

An amazing report from Jackson County, OR (A). The friends there have analyzed the results of their last expansion phase, and chosen to focus their efforts in line with the learning gained from their experiences so far. Thus, they are directing their energies to their community of interest. They are carefully and systematically planning the activities of their teaching teams, building on their available human resources.

Here is a short report regarding our cluster's teaching efforts. We have just started our second expansion phase.

One of our main insights from the first cycle was that our 6 adult enrollments and 2 children came from our community of interest. Although we had carried out some door to door teaching the most receptive population in this regard was the Hispanic community; these teaching efforts resulted in a neighborhood children's class populated by Hispanic children.

In this second cycle the explicit priority of the expansion phase is to expand the community of interest focusing on direct and collective teaching by forming teaching teams.

In preparation the three Local Spiritual Assemblies in the cluster were visited by the Area Teaching Committee sharing the vision of the next cycle. The Assemblies were asked to assist in the formation of teaching teams by sharing the vision with their communities and encouraging the friends to participate in teaching teams. Each Assembly member also has committed to join a teaching team with other members of the community. All members of the core team were also asked to form teaching teams with members of their communities.

This recent cluster reflection gathering consisted primarily of the teams reporting on their formation, goals and strategies.

One of our teaching teams is a prayer team where the members are called upon by the teaching teams to pray for them as they go on home visits, give firesides, and devotional gatherings.

The effect has been to include ever increasing numbers of the friends in the teaching work in the context of direct and collective teaching. The teaching teams are bonding and gaining confidence and enthusiasm in this process. The core team is convinced that this systematic approach of developing the capacity of the human resources will bring about sustainable growth in proportion to our ability to consolidate our gains. Furthermore, greater numbers of the believers are engaging in the training institute process and core activities. This approach is sustainable and widens the circle of the number of human resources by incorporating in a natural way the elements of the Bahá’í community.

Some of the basic assignments of the teaching teams are as follows:

· Pray together and beseech Divine assistance.

· Consult, act, and reflect together, maintaining an attitude of learning while focused on the priority of expanding our community of interest.

· Identify each team member’s friends, family, neighbors and coworkers who could become the pool of seekers and contacts.

· Devise plans to establish a relationship with as many of the seekers and contacts as possible through home visits and spiritual conversations in other settings conducive to sharing, such as over dinner.

· Build on the relationships thereby established by inviting the seekers and contacts to core activities.

· Seek opportunities to directly present the fundamental verities of the Faith to our community of interest by using the “Getting to Know the Bahá’í Faith” presentation (i.e., Anna’s presentation), and then invite them to become Bahá’ís.

· Plan how to intensify the team’s activities during the next cluster expansion phase.

· Assist each team member to refine their own personal teaching plan.

· Assist each team member to internalize the concepts and be able to share “Getting to Know the Bahá’í Faith”.

· Set measurable goals, such as number of devotional meetings, home visits and firesides.

· Designate a contact person to track and report learning and progress to the Area Teaching Committee through its secretary.

Warmest Bahá’í regards,


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