Thursday, November 16, 2006

Team: "Swedish Auto"

Report from: Auto Teaching Team
Team: two men who work together, in Austin
Goal: To carry the message of Bahá’u’lláh to the community at large through direct and indirect means at the workplace and socially.

History of team: Outside the shop there is a 10x20 foot, two sided bill board mentioning the Faith. Inside the shop there is a poster of the Shrine of the Báb with the terraces. There is a photo of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá next to Shiidon’s computer and a prayer book placed on the desk just to the left of where the customers sit. On the walls are Bahá’í calendars. On the bulletin board there is a card with the Prayer for America and a post card with the location and times of Devotions at the Bahá’í Center. One works as the manager and main contact person with the public at the shop. The other is the owner. Being a Bahá’í owned business there are opportunities to aid in bringing up the Faith.

The teaching plan has been developed over the past six years or more. One of the men was often the first person to approach the customer about the Faith. Conversations follow with a clear understanding that the discussions are natural and sincere. When the Faith is being discussed the full weight of running the shop shifts to the other one, who ensures as much time as possible is available for the teaching work. This has been the method of teaching over the past seven years.

Changes in Patterns: Several events impacted the teaching work at the shop. The Institute process has been fully embraced and both men are fully involved in the process and practices. The development of “officially designated” Teaching Teams had an impact that altered the interactive dynamics at the shop.

Being identified as a Teaching Team, the understanding of the work being done altered as well. Now both have taken on a more active role in teaching at the shop and now both men flow between teaching and support as the occasion calls for. One Teaching Team member is an avid mountain biker, and has taken up the teaching challenge to his mountain biking community.

Through the course of the last year many copies of the Hidden Words, the Seven Valleys, Prayer Books etc. have been given to interested parties. “The Open Door”, a small booklet on life after death has been sent to customers who have shared the loss of loved ones with the shop.

One recent teaching experience will illustrate the extent of the teaching work being done. While one of the team members was taking a customer to their car in back he stopped in the middle of the shop and asked “as a Bahá’í, have you decided what prayer to say today?” The team member stated that there was one prayer that is said every day. After reciting the prayer the customer stated how beautiful the Prayer was. The Faith had not come up that day or the previous visit prior to this discussion.

The Faith comes up on a daily basis and there are plenty of opportunities to teach. Some are ready for a deep discussion and some are not. While writing this report a customer called and informed the writer that he wanted to bring his car in. He stated that he had purchased a book on the Bahá’í Faith and had read a lot of it. He mentioned that he appreciated our accommodating him getting a quick appointment. He said that he was still making a donation to charity in our name because of the service he experienced. He also stated that he looked forward to conversing about the Faith again when he came in.

Evolving Process: Referring to each other as a “Team” has altered the focus of the teaching to one of Team Teaching. A customer who is interested in the Faith had expressed interest in getting together socially with the team. The thought occurred to one team member to invite him and his wife to have “kabob” sometime. This was enthusiastically received. Several conversations came up with this in mind with little action being done. Finally, one day, one team member approached the other and informed him that the customer had called and asked about getting together. The customer informed him that he had already spoken to a another Bahá’í in the community (who was from the same country) and asked if he would be willing to come to a dinner. It was mentioned that this was more than one team member could do himself and asked him as a Teaching Team to help. The partner immediately responded with “I will do whatever I can to be of help.”

This was a challenge and alone or as co-workers this was not resolvable. By referring to each other as a team, an identity has been established and there is something beyond just two individuals but an effort of a team.

Results: Teaching has taken a more systematic and direct approach. Two enrollments have resulted through these teaching efforts coupled with interactions with other Bahá’ís in the community. People are being encouraged to investigate the Faith further and are being given material.


At 8:19 AM, Blogger shiidon said...

Things have been going well for our teaching team. However, we are feeling the need to be more systemized and to start planning more thoroughly our course of action while teaching.

Will keep you posted as things progress.


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