14. Bahá'í Missions
A "Bahá'í Mission" is simply an office that directs the promulgation of the Faith for a Cluster. It should include a Mission Committee: one Believer from every LSA and Group in the Cluster. The Committee would elect a Chair, etc.
The Mission should direct "the teaching work" in a Cluster:
A "missionary" means "one assigned to a mission". A missionary is usually one who makes contact with Prospects. A Prospect is not a Seeker, but a person who is contacted about the Faith; such as a person who responds to an advertisement or has read something about the Faith on the Internet or has asked questions at a information booth. Once a Prospect comes to a Public Meeting (such as a Devotional), they became a Seeker.
Those on their Year of Mission should spend, in my view, at least a fouth of their time in a Mission away from their home, friends, and family. The Mormons have perfected this.
The Mormon Church used to mail people free copies of "The Book of Mormon" or free literature (as the Faith does now). Result: very, very few people who come out to the Mormon Church. It didn't work, at least it didn't work well. The Church found that "if" they send out missionaries to these "contacts" then the missionaries will "bond" with the contact, and then the contact will be brought to a local Mormon Church by the missionaries. They found this system to be much, much more effective. A thousand times more effective then simply mailing out free books or free literature.
My suggestion is to use those on their Year of Service as "missionaries".
Bahá'ís are forbidden to "canvass". to canvass means to knock on door, or to go "door-to-door" as Mormon missionaries do (who call it "tracting"). Mormon missionaries find "tracting" almost useless, but they do it because they have nothing else to do during the day when people are at work. About 1 in 1000 people they "tract out" join the Church. Mormon missionaries find it much more effective when they deliver Free Book Offers to contacts; such as The Book of Mormon, or the Bible, or especially some free video or DVD. The Church produced a number of free DVDs about the life of Christ, or about "eternal families" and advertised these free items in newspapers, in TV Guide, in TV and radio commercials. Tens of thousands of response-calls were made, and the missionaries were sent to deliver such materials.
The "key" is the "bond" between the respondants and the missionaries. Without that "bond" very, very few (maybe 1%) of the respondants will come to a Baha'i public meeting. The "bond" is vitally important, the most important thing. The missionaries must offer to drive the respondant to a Public Meeting; with the offer of showing the DVD (on a big screen TV) and a free vegitarian dinner.
Simply mailing out free literature will do very little, unless there is "follow up"; where the missionaries "bond" with the respondant, invite them to a showing of "The Servant of Glory" along with a free meal, offering to drive them to the location of the showing (which may be a Baha'i center or simply a home used for showing the DVD).
The Church discovered the following via trial-and-error:
1) If they simply mailed the free items, this was very ineffectual, and few contacts ever requested further information.
2) If missionaries were sent to deliver the items, and to arrange "Discussions" (meetings) in the homes of these contacts, then this was much more effective.
1) Produce the film "Servant of Glory" and release it to the indie film festivals, then to limited major cities (where the Faith also have large centers); advertising it heavily in those cities.
2) Produce tens of thousands of copies of the film on DVDs.
3) Establish one "Mission" for every Cluster. The Mission would provide food and housing for the "Missionaries" as well as a car or van plus a "Viewing Room" (a place with a large screen TV where the DVD can be shown to Seekers); which can be in a Center or in a home of a Baha'i who volunteers are large room for this purpose.
4) Do a National Media Campaign offering "Servant of Glory" as a free DVD; with a dedicated toll-free number.
5) Assign missionaries to deliver the DVD to the homes of prospects (do NOT simply mail the DVDs out---you'll never hear again from 99% of the contacts!)
6) Teach the missionaries how to "bond" with the Prospects, and how to invite them to a Public Meeting at a Bahá'í Center or Bahá'í Meeting Home (if there is no Center). The Missionaries must offer to drive the Prospect to the Public Meeting. This is very, very important!
7) The Missionaries must be trained in how to respond to questions: from Christians, from Catholics, from Agnostics, from Atheists, from Mormons, etc. They must be trained in "Prospect Dialogues". Without these Dialogues, the missionaries will often become confused and not know how to respond.
8) The Missionaries must be spiritually disciplined. They must be supervised. They must practice the Zikr. They must be denied the past-times of dating, secular studies, watching TV (other than Bahá'í programs), and listening to music other than Bahá'í related music, during their 3 month "mission" so that they are spiritually-attuned to their divine commission and they will attract sincere souls to the Faith.
9) The Missionaries should also be provided with a car or van, plus gas-allowance, plus free Bahá'í literature to give to Prospects. Once a Prospect comes to a Public Meeting they are a "Seeker" and should be assigned to a Teacher of Seekers.