A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Outreach

A question often asked by the friends is how they will know when their cluster is ready for an intensive program of growth. One indicator that cannot be overlooked is growth itself— an increase in the number of Bahá’ís in the cluster. A vigorous institute process, the multiplication of core activities and their integration, a successful outreach to local inhabitants, an ever-growing number of individual and collective teaching initiatives, a vibrant community life, and a commitment to an ongoing learning process will result in growth.
(Universal House of Justice, Building Momentum: A Coherent Approach to Growth, p. 12)


As teaching efforts and core activities have multiplied, Local Assemblies have been thrilled to see the opportunities created for serving the wider population. For example, an Assembly in whose area children’s classes have multiplied in various neighbourhoods is delighted to know that the community in its charge is able to administer to a greater number of the children of the locality than it was ever possible before. Yet beyond the increased capacity for outreach, the positive effect on the quality of Bahá’í community life has also been reported and is reflected in the enhanced quality of its internal processes.
(International Teaching Centre, Reflections on Growth, Number 10, December 2005)


At the end of the Four Year Plan the Universal House of Justice wrote that “the culture of the Bahá’í community [had] experienced a change.” The “new patterns of thought and action” introduced by the training institutes were having a profound impact on individuals, institutions, and communities. Fundamental to this new orientation was an attitude of learning, along with an appreciation of systematization and focus, a commitment to enlisting a greater number of believers in the work of the Cause, and a conscious outreach to society at large.
(Universal House of Justice, Building Momentum: A Coherent Approach to Growth, p. 17)


Clearly those who do not feel comfortable employing any specific direct teaching method should not be obliged to do so. Yet it is equally important that the inhibitions of individualbelievers, though rooted in the prevalent culture, and undoubtedly the result of a sincere desire to safeguard the interests of the Faith, do not prevent others from learning how to approach people directly and offer them the message for which their hearts so desperately yearn. So strong should be the bonds which unite the friends that the diversity of their temperaments and backgrounds serves to open before them new vistas for the growth of the Faith, while at the same time protecting it from extremes.
(Universal House of Justice, to a National Spiritual Assembly, 28 December 2008)


Efforts to multiply the number of children’s classes in a strong cluster are predicated on training a sizable cadre of children’s class teachers, and usually require a concerted outreach to the community at large, as the Bahá’í children may be few in number.
(Universal House of Justice, Building Momentum: A Coherent Approach to Growth, p. 9)


Experience in advancing the movement of clusters from one stage to the next is now so widespread that the methods and instruments are well understood. The institute process must be strengthened so that a sizeable number of friends proceed through the main sequence of courses. Intensive institute campaigns that pay adequate attention to the practice component will be essential in this respect. The number of core activities should be steadily multiplied, and outreach to the wider community systematically extended. Meetings of reflection will have to be held periodically in order to monitor progress, maintain unity of thought and mobilize the energies of the friends. And schemes for administering the growth process should gradually be put in place, as circumstances demand.
(Universal House of Justice, to the Continental Board of Counsellors, 27 December 2005)


Not infrequently, outreach to the wider community takes the form of a visit to a home, sometimes after prior arrangements have been made with the residents, although not always. What should be understood in this respect is that such visits are not isolated acts. A visit to a home should be seen as one element of a coherent pattern of action that seeks to enable specific populations to contribute to the construction of the society envisioned by Bahá’u’lláh. At the heart of the matter, then, is how a campaign of teaching the Faith by visiting homes relates to the other activities being undertaken in a neighbourhood—how it relates to the efforts to hold meetings that strengthen the devotional character of the wider community, to offer classes that foster the spiritual development of children, to form groups that channel the energies of junior youth, to establish circles of study, open to all, that enable people of varied backgrounds to advance on equal footing and explore the application of teachings to their individual and collective lives.
(Universal House of Justice, to a National Spiritual Assembly, 28 December 2008)


The significance of this development should not be underestimated. In every cluster, once a consistent pattern of action is in place, attention needs to be given to extending it more broadly through a network of co-workers and acquaintances, while energies are, at the same time, focused on smaller pockets of the population, each of which should become a centre of intense activity. In an urban cluster, such a centre of activity might best be defined by the boundaries of a neighbourhood; in a cluster that is primarily rural in character, a small village would offer a suitable social space for this purpose. Those who serve in these settings, both local inhabitants and visiting teachers, would rightly view their work in terms of community building. To assign to their teaching efforts such labels as “door-to-door", even though the first contact may involve calling upon the residents of a home without prior notice, would not do justice to a process that seeks to raise capacity within a population to take charge of its own spiritual, social and intellectual development. The activities that drive this process, and in which newly found friends are invited to engage—meetings that strengthen the devotional character of the community; classes that nurture the tender hearts and minds of children; groups that channel the surging energies of junior youth; circles of study, open to all, that enable people of varied backgrounds to advance on equal footing and explore the application of the teachings to their individual and collective lives—may well need to be maintained with assistance from outside the local population for a time. It is to be expected, however, that the multiplication of these core activities would soon be sustained by human resources indigenous to the neighbourhood or village itself—by men and women eager to improve material and spiritual conditions in their surroundings. A rhythm of community life should gradually emerge, then, commensurate with the capacity of an expanding nucleus of individuals committed to Bahá’u’lláh’s vision of a new World Order.
(Universal House of Justice, Ridvan Message 2010)


Within the above context, it would be quite appropriate, as the House of Justice has noted on earlier occasions, for Bahá’ís to visit the homes of people in a neighbourhood or village to explain the nature of the core activities of the Five Year Plan and invite them or their children to take part. In many cases, a visit to the home of someone to see whether he or she is interested in learning about the Faith would also be highly fruitful.
(Universal House of Justice, to a National Spiritual Assembly, 28 December 2008)