Entry by troops (time to be announced)

It has been my experience that Bahais often become discouraged as a result of having unrealistic expectations of what is called entry by troops (EBT) and large scale conversion. I would like to look again at what the Bahai scriptures say about this, and at how Shoghi Effendi conceived the historical process of growth. The little that the scriptures say suggests to me that its importance has been over-rated, and that the time-frame of entry by troops, its nature, and how the Bahais can bring it about have all been misunderstood. From my reading of the world and of the scriptures, I suggest that we should not now be greatly preoccupied with entry by troops or large scale conversion: a concern with the needs of the age we live in, and the needs of our Bahai communities today, will indicate healthier, locally-specific priorities which – ironically – will be more conducive to actual ‘growth’ in every sense. We will start by briefly looking back over the last two generations.

High hopes

Almost since its inception, the Universal House of Justice has put a high priority on achieving entry by troops, and has had high hopes that it is imminent. In its Ridvan message for 1964, the Universal House of Justice says:

We begin this Plan with a tremendous momentum, exemplified… by the beginning, in several countries, of that entry by troops into the Cause of God prophesied by ‘Abdu’l-Baha and so eagerly anticipated by Him.

and in the Ridvan message for 1965:

Almost universally there is a sense of an impending breakthrough in large-scale conversion. … entry into the Cause by troops has been a fact in some areas for a number of years. But greater things are ahead. … Destiny is carrying us to this climax

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Uber-"teaching" in the congregation or changing the world?

My community is bigger than yours, or birthing the new community?

{josquote}The task that faces Baha’is today is the building a wide-ranging network of comprehensive units of civilisation that, patterned on sublime heroism and working to a common purpose, promote the welfare of those within and outside their borders, achieving unity in a collective pursuit of spiritualisation and social progress.{/josquote}

In the wake of 41 Baha'i Regional Conferences, gathering tens of thousands of Baha'is from every corner of the world to reflect on the present moment and stimulate the multiplication of "intensive growth programmes", the wider question, (whatever for?), rings on my mind. Are we yet another congregation, buzzing ourselves up to proselytise more keenly, or is there something distinctive about the enterprise of growing the Baha'i community? Is this an inward-looking, bums on seats (we have no pews), my congregation is bigger than yours mindset we are cultivating? Or has this vision of growth anything deeper to offer to a world fast slipping from our fingers? We want, like most religious groups, to grow our community. Does our concept of community change the nature of the enterprise?

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Prayer pledge leads to teaching

{josquote}This is also an example of how the spirit of the conferences is leading to clusters more systematically supporting each other’s efforts.{/josquote}

One type of pledge that thousands of friends made at the recent Regional Bahá’í Conferences was to pray daily for success in teaching at the individual and cluster levels. One believer from the South Central region shares her experience with fulfilling her prayer pledge. This is also an example of how the spirit of the conferences is leading to clusters more systematically support[ing?] each other’s efforts.

The Universal House of Justice has given us a system for growth. And guess what . . . It works!

At the Regional Conference in Dallas, I pledged to pray daily for my neighboring cluster. I thought about the souls in that cluster that I have already been teaching about the Faith. Three souls in particular came to mind. . . .

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Pyramids - not just places to store dead bodies

It makes no difference what numbers you put into a pre-drawn pyramid, it's still going to look perfect. This is no good for analysis, but it's great for PR!

Baha'is have been talking about "pyramids" for a few years now.  Probably the best known use of the term is in the phrase “What does the pyramid look like in our cluster?”. My limited understanding is that pyramids are a snapshot of a community's "pyramid of human resources" In other words the numbers of people who have done each of the Ruhi books.

For example, each asterisk represents a person (sorry, a human resource), and each level represents a book:

Book 7 *
Book 6
Book 5 ***
Book 4 *******
Book 3 *****
Book 2 ************
Book 1     **************************

If you look real hard, you have a pyramid. You can quickly see that too few human resources have taken Book 3, and that, sadly, Book 6 is a human-resource-free zone. And somehow this matters.

I understand that it's important for Baha'is to...

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Bahai to concentrate on youth spirituality

The venue: TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre

Three members of the Marlborough Bahai community will travel to Auckland this week to take part in a conference which is part of a series being held across the globe.

Gillian Edwards, Birgite Bofelt and Alitisa Siale will attend the Auckland conference this weekend.

It is the 34th of 41 conferences planned around the world to "transform a generation".

Discussion would focus on "the lack of a spiritual focus for young people," Ms Edwards said.

"We want to give the youth of today and tomorrow a spiritual focus and to concentrate on the virtues that are seen as being absent in the current social fabric of the day."

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