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program of growth


In a world in which powerful forces are tearing communal bonds asunder, the practice of visiting friends and neighbors in their homes to explore themes central to the life of society can, if it becomes a prominent feature of culture, remedy some of the ills engendered by increasing isolation. The ties of fellowship thus created ... serve to fortify the process of building vibrant and harmonious communities.

It is clear from the foregoing that much of the progress of a cluster depends on the ability of the friends to engage a population in diverse and weighty conversations on the Bahá’í teachings and then to draw its members into an educational process that multiplies their powers to contribute to the building of a new society. It is natural, then, that at any point in this process the friends would encounter certain particularly receptive segments of that population. As the House of Justice has stated, the youth represent “a most responsive element of every receptive population to which the friends have sought to reach out”. Initial endeavours to open a particular channel for the entry of youth into the sequence of courses in a cluster are necessarily modest. Effort is made—sometimes through specially organized gatherings—to reach out to a group of youth, engage them in discussions that open before their eyes “a compelling vision of how they can contribute to building a new world”, invite them to study the institute courses, and then assist them to move swiftly into the arena of service. Often this involves the intensive study of a set of courses such as Book 1, 3, and 5, since the acts of service to which they are first introduced are usually teaching children’s classes and helping groups of junior youth. As the process of growth advances, the manner in which the young people study institute courses gradually comes to conform for the most part to the sequence in which the courses are arranged. The institute might, however, from time to time offer some youth a selected number of courses in order to accelerate the multiplication of activities.
Helping more and more youth to serve as animators contributes both to an increase in the number of groups and to the stability and resilience of the programme. With more trained animators, those that leave can be more easily replaced, and if one animator is unable to facilitate the study of a particular text, an experienced colleague steps in. When the junior youth in the groups functioning in a village or neighbourhood, or even in a cluster, are seen as enrolled into one educational system and their animators as collaborators in supporting all of them, occasions for coming together to study some of the texts in camps or to implement service projects together become a more pronounced feature of the programme in a cluster.
Although the first teachers in a cluster may come from any segment of the population, young mothers and youth—both boys and girls—tend to be the first to respond. Mothers bring to the effort their experience of parenting and more readily engage other parents in related conversations. As for the youth, when they are involved in deep discussions on their responsibility to the community, they respond especially well when invited to work with children and junior youth. Building a team of a few mothers and youth who collaborate to teach the first few classes should be a possibility within the reach of every cluster.

1.2.2 Learning to nurture the participation of youth in institute courses
2.1 JYSEP / clusters where the friends are establishing a program of growth
3.1.1 raising the first contingent of teachers

In villages and neighborhoods throughout the world, groups of friends are intensely engaged in a set of interrelated activities that include regular devotional gatherings, classes for the spiritual education of children, meetings of junior youth, study circles, and youth camps and various kinds of campaigns. As this pattern of activity takes root in a locality and as increasing numbers dedicate themselves to acts of service, the nucleus of friends grows in size and strength. A systematic program of visits to more and more homes in the village or neighborhood is a vital component of the process of community building now gathering momentum. A diversity of themes are addressed during such visits. The teacher of a Bahá’í children’s class, for example, must frequently call on the parents of the youngsters to discuss themes relevant to education. Similar visits need to be made to the homes of junior youth and youth by those serving as animators and tutors to discuss subjects bearing on the challenges and opportunities associated with these promising years in the life of a human being. Conversations held with the members of a household on themes that deepen their knowledge of the Faith prove equally essential. All in all, the effect of such visits on the culture of fellowship emerging in the community cannot be overestimated.
A sustained program of visits to homes in a neighborhood or village calls for a degree of organization, involving a nucleus of dedicated friends supported by the requisite administrative institutions and agencies. In guiding a group through the book, the tutor should bear in mind that participants are being prepared to join such an ongoing effort. Visits arranged for them as a component of their study should lead to a commitment to take part in this effort year after year, an important aspect of a life of service.
the practice of visiting homes has taken on new dimensions in recent years, especially as smaller and smaller geographic units, all the way down to the level of the village and the urban neighborhood, have seen a rise in the number of individuals who can act as tutors, animators of junior youth groups, and children’s class teachers. Notably, the practice has shown itself to be essential not only for the purpose of propagating knowledge of the Faith; it is also imperative to the successful unfoldment of the programs for the spiritual empowerment of junior youth and for the spiritual education of children. In this, what has become clear is that regular visits need to be undertaken by animators and teachers to the parents of youngsters in the two programs to discuss the concepts and approaches which give them shape.


to significantly grow the number of people hosting core activities, both Bahá’ís and friends of the Faith, and to grow the number of participants in all of our existing activities.

establish a family or household devotional in every Bahá’í household in the cluster.

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