Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The power of integrated action

Service can be spontaneous, arising from the deepest yearnings of the heart to reach out to others in our community and share the teachings of the Faith with them. When these yearnings are coordinated and focused, however, the effects of such service are multiplied and intensified. In this report from an A-stage cluster in the Central region, the friends have developed some intriguing measures to coordinate their efforts. What is particularly noteworthy is how they are approaching everything as one integrated, seamless process: training and preparation, teaching, and follow-up are being planned and carried out as interconnected parts rather than in isolation.

In order to organize and assist the teaching efforts and to better meet the needs of seekers, the community of interest and other contacts, the friends have organized the various neighborhoods in the cluster into zones. These have been formed to help coordinate teaching activities and follow-up efforts. . . .

Each member of the core team has followed up with individual friends in each zone to keep track of and encourage the follow-up work. Accompaniment was not consistent for every single zone, but data was compiled for all of them. The core team learned a lot since each zone had its own unique situation.

Based on experience so far, it was decided to organize a “preparation period” prior to the next intensive teaching effort in order to better prepare for direct teaching. In some cases, this involved starting a children’s class, developing friendships with the parents of the students, and inviting the parents to learn about the Faith. In another case, it involved helping a new Bahá’í youth to become an animator, and seeking out junior youth and their parents who would be interested in junior youth groups and/or learning about the Faith. It also included unity gatherings with seekers, allowing for informal teaching and invitations to new core activities.

After the conclusion of the intensive teaching effort, the friends in each zone were informed of seekers and members of the community of interest who required follow-up. The friends made an effort to involve the seekers in core activities as interest and circumstances allowed. About 30 friends continued teaching directly through home visits. The teams also followed up with new believers as scheduled permitted.

There were adequate resources to respond to all these needs, but for the next cycle it will be important to encourage more of the friends to arise to serve as tutors of study circles, children’s class teachers, animators of junior youth groups, and home visitors.

As part of the preparation period, we conducted training sessions in Anna’s presentation. We realized that it can be difficult to hold a single training for the whole cluster, and that holding “mini-trainings” in different neighborhoods resulted in increased participation. Ruhi Book 2 refresher courses were also held in different parts of the cluster to prepare the friends to carry out home visits.

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