Friday, August 21, 2009

Learning from successes and challenges in Kitsap County

We’ve just received a report from Kitsap County, WA (A), which just launched its intensive program of growth a few months ago. The friends there formed themselves into teaching teams and tried a number of different approaches (such as “door-to-door” teaching, direct teaching in a park, and making appointments with one’s contacts), and learned a lot from their experiences, both the successes and the challenges. The friends used the skills they developed in the institute courses (20 points to the first person who can identify where something from Ruhi Book 4 was incorporated into the teaching). It was very hard to select which stories to share here; we finally narrowed it down to 5:

1. We met a man who was not available to talk then, but he was invited to a devotional gathering, which he indicated he would like to attend. A team member will follow up with him to provide him with the time and date of the devotional.

2. Another man who was met by a teaching team was also busy. He asked for information and a way to contact the Bahá’ís. He said he lived in a different community, and asked for a telephone number. He was given an introductory booklet and information on how to contact one of the believers in the area, as well as the 1-800-22-UNITE number. . . .

3. A team met a woman who was very interested. She listened closely to almost the entire presentation about the Faith, asking a few questions, and when asked, read the prayers of the Báb silently to herself. Her young child was interested in the brief story of the martyrdom of the Báb, looking closely at the photo in the teaching booklet of the courtyard where the Báb was martyred. A member of the team plans to go back next Saturday to finish the presentation and invite her to a devotional that will be held in the neighborhood.

4. W and B talked to a man who was in the park with his little girl. He was very interested and heard the entire presentation and took 2 registration cards and an introductory booklet. He was invited to declare; he said he wanted to talk to his wife first. He was given a local contact number, and he assured us he would be contacting us. W offered to come by and share a presentation on the Faith with his wife if he wanted.

5. Anna's presentation was used as a study circle: We arrived at the home of a seeker, but he was not there yet, only his son and daughter. So we began studying Anna’s presentation together. We were on the second page when he came home. He was so happy, pleased, and surprised that his son and daughter were willing to participate.

We completed all of the presentation together. We elaborated on the story of Bahá’u’lláh, and shared about the Maiden of Heaven, the conditions of the Black Pit prison, and the feeble and fanatical woman who wanted to throw a stone at Bahá’u’lláh and His response. The son said he likes the presentation and finds it interesting. They to attend a devotional gathering that will be held soon.

Three registration cards were offered to the group, and were all graciously accepted.

The next afternoon the seeker brought his card, already filled out, to our study circle. He said that studying Anna's presentation a second time gave him a better perspective, and that seeing his son and daughter in a study circle motivated him to declare.

The insights gained are just as interesting as the teaching stories that led to them:

The teams need to have information about when and where the core activities and firesides will be held. In this way, if after hearing about the Bahá’í Faith, a person expresses interest in learning more, the teachers are able to invite them to a local community activity during that initial encounter.

The teams were experimenting with opening statements, and are still learning which types of introductions work best when they first meet someone at the door.

3 people on a teaching team, unless one of the members is a child, can sometimes be awkward.

The more we practice sharing Anna’s presentation with the flipbook, the easier it becomes to talk about the Faith in a more natural conversation with a person and have more eye contact, an ebb and flow of discussion, and be able to respond to on-the-spot questions. When we can offer the presentation or conversation from the heart and memory, it can be very powerful and highly effective.

Prayers can unfold and take on further meanings and levels of understanding when offered in a teaching situation. The theme of teaching is essentially in all the Writings of the Cause.

We should have further discussion of what we do after we offer the presentation in terms of quotations we can start keeping with us to help us answer other questions that have come up during presentations, in addition to deepening themes from Ruhi Book 2 what other writings would be appropriate to the seeker that you can study with them or have them read, etc.

Using data sheets and organized packets for those that go door-to-door teaching can help to organize the follow-ups as well as keep accurate records for the teachers

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