Let's talk honestly about teaching

In case you hadn’t guessed, I love teaching. I live to teach, and I have dedicated my life and my career to helping Bahá’ís teach. And every now and then, I like to take a look around and ask myself “how am I doing?” “Am I helping the Faith grow?” But unfortunately, in spite of how everyone talks about how we are growing, when I look around, I don’t see any growth. Am I crazy? Blind? Living in Indiana? Well, yes for the third one, but I hope no for the first two. So I started looking at some numbers. The American Bahá’í publishes enrollment figures every month, and they average between eighty and one hundred per Gregorian month. That’s about 1,100, or about one per LSA per year. But then last summer, an Auxiliary Board member told our summer school class that historically, we only have a 20% retention rate. That means that of those 80-100 new believers, only 16-20 of them will stay Bahá’ís. (The NSA published a 50% retention figure, which I assume means that 30% become inactive without officially withdrawing.) Then I looked in the back of the American Bahá’í and saw that more than 20 Bahá’ís are dying each month. If this keeps up, we will start shrinking! Clearly, I am not being successful in helping the Faith grow. What can I do differently?

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