Monday, July 20, 2009

Emergence of "the big picture"

With each cycle of an IPG, the friends gain more and more insights from their experiences: This approach works well, that approach doesn’t work so well. A is good and so is B and C, but when you put A + B + C together, things get really sustainable. And so on. This recent report from Phoenix, AZ (A) contains a lot of these types of insights (the one on children’s classes is particularly interesting). But what is really exciting is how the insights are collectively over time crystallizing into a “big picture”. And that big picture is how all the elements of the Plan are resulting in the emergence of a new community life and the empowerment of a growing number of new believers.

When the teaching teams understand coherence and have a unity of vision for building a spiritual community and are accompanied, they will begin to have systematic action in the neighborhoods and cluster at large. For instance, one team began devotionals with the purpose of inviting seekers to a Book 1 study circle. This has resulted in 8 seekers and 2 Bahá’ís in a regular study circle! Another team started with children’s classes, and then eventually organized devotional gatherings with the parents of the students. . . .

Forming neighborhood or “Book 2 teaching teams” (who visit new believers and share the deepening themes from Ruhi Book 2) is an effective way to help those friends who haven't yet found a particular path of service to arise.

We have tried very hard to hold regular neighborhood Feasts. This has allowed for consistent and improved quality of the Feast, and has been a success.

One new approach to children’s classes: Instead of offering to families to start a children’s class (and then looking for a teacher), we did the converse. We looked for an individual in the neighborhood who wanted to teach the class (with accompaniment from the friends). So she is helping organize the class and is studying Ruhi Book 3. In this way we are empowering the neighborhood from the beginning by raising up people of capacity. While we are of course also serving the neighborhood by offering the classes, our greatest service is the empowerment of new believers. We plan to do the same in other neighborhoods.

When holding Holy Day observances in the neighborhoods, this helps strengthen the community as a whole.

We have decided to build on existing strengths in the various neighborhoods. For example, if one neighborhood has a strong devotional gathering, we will work to strengthen other core activities around it.

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