22 Baha’i Blog Posts Related to the Institute Process

Study circle participants in Biharsharif, India (Image courtesy Baha'i World Centre)

Study circle participants in Biharsharif, India (Image courtesy Baha’i World Centre)

Several weeks ago we conducted a Baha’i Blog survey, and many of the survey participants said that they liked the posts relating to the Institute Process and wanted more.

Of the eight articles we publish every month, we always try to have at least one of them relate to the Institute Process in some way, and so here’s a roundup of 22 Baha’i Blog articles we’ve published over the last few years which relate in various ways to the Institute Process.

Frontiers of Learning 200x2001. Frontiers of Learning: New Film from the Baha’i World Centre
This uplifting film captures the insights and experiences of four different communities on four different continents. In these communities, children, junior youth, youth, and adults are all taking part in a process of community building based on concepts enshrined in the Baha’i Teachings.

Filmed in Canada, Colombia, India, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Frontiers of Learning is divided into four main parts and it is approximately 90 minutes in length. The film also has subtitles in 5 different languages, and you can either stream or download the film for free. Continue Reading…


6 Ways Study Circles have Helped the Baha'i Community 200x2002. 6 Ways Study Circles have Helped the Baha’i Community
Over the last 15 years I’ve had the opportunity to participate, tutor, and be involved to varying degrees in numerous Baha’i study circles in different parts of the world. I’ve experienced very good ones, and ones that could use a little work. Ones that completed the Ruhi book we were working on, and ones that fizzled out before completion. Ones that were run at an extremely intensive and accelerated pace, and ones that took over a year to complete. Ones that brought people into the Faith, and ones that weren’t very well received by some of the participants.

The fact is that no matter what you think about study circles or what your involvement has been with them over the years, study circles have and continue to revolutionize many Baha’i communities worldwide, helping to change the overall culture of the Baha’i community – and I think for the better. Continue reading…


prayer 200x2003. 8 Creative Ideas for Your Next Devotional Gathering
Getting together to share prayers and writings from the Baha’i faith, other scriptures and enlightened souls, is a staple of Baha’i life. These devotional gatherings are one of our core activities and all Baha’is are encouraged to not only attend, but to host them.

There is no set format or formula for running a devotional, and they run the gamut from organized public events through to informal sharing of prayers and readings around a coffee table. And since there is no particular way that a devotional should be held, it’s open for creativity and inventiveness!

So in this post I thought I would explore some ideas for devotional gatherings. If you have more ideas, please do share them in the comments! Continue reading…


youth conference4. Reflections from the 114 Youth Conferences
Although the 114 World-wide Baha’i Youth Conferences drew to a close towards the end of October, the energy generated from these conferences continues to be felt throughout the Baha’i world. I was recently at a reflection gathering in Los Angeles and the energy which the youth brought to the gathering after having attended the youth conference was absolutely inspiring and contagious!

For those of you who haven’t had a chance to see any of the videos from the 114 conferences yet, I highly recommend them! The Baha’i World Centre has posted all of the videos from the individual conferences online, and they’ve also produced a series of five videos called Reflections from the 114 Youth Conferences based on some of the main conference themes, and they’re AWESOME! Continue reading…


ruhi 200x2005. New Songs Available for Ruhi Book 3, Grade 1 & 2
The Ruhi Institute has made available for download, recordings of the songs contained in the new lesson plans for Grades 1 and 2 of the Teaching Children’s Class book.

These songs can be downloaded for free, and you can also download a page which contains both the lyrics and the chords for each song – so that’s pretty cool!

These materials can be used in both children’s classes and other educational activities, and The Ruhi Institute also permits the songs to be translated and recorded into various languages, provided that no recording be sold or used for commercial purposes in any way. Continue reading…


Teaching-in-Colombia 200x2006. 3 Ways to Engage with Changemakers in Our Community
For many of us, determining our role in the current Five Year Plan can be a major struggle. The Baha’i community is progressing and learning at such a rapid rate that it can seem difficult to keep up. There may also be certain community initiatives that are new to us and make us feel uncomfortable, so we watch others conduct the teaching work as we try and find our place.

In its most recent Ridvan message, the Universal House of Justice praised and encouraged our global teaching efforts and indicated that there is no formula to how we serve the current plan. During each cycle of activity, several methods of teaching can be employed depending on the characteristics of each population. Continue reading…


Service Project Ideas for You and Your Community 200x2007. 9 Service Project Ideas for You and Your Community
While on holiday to Hawaii, I was driving down a highway on the island of Oahu and passed a sign for the “Adopt a Highway” program. The program is for local organizations and communities to keep their roads and areas clean and free of litter. I was really pleasantly surprised to see that this particular highway stretch had been adopted by the Baha’is of Wahiawa!

Rendering service to humanity is an important part of being not just a Baha’i, but a member of any religion and in fact pretty much any good moral code. But sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. Well here are nine simple ideas to get you thinking. Continue reading…


View of pretty woman listening to headphones with eyes closed8. 10 Instrumental Tracks for Your Next Devotional Gathering
In the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baha’u’llah has said “We have made music a ladder by which souls may ascend to the realm on high” and I’m sure you have all experienced this to be true at times while listening to certain music. The emotions and thoughts that music can engender in heart, mind and soul can at times be truly sublime. Now combine this with the blessed words of the Holy Messengers in a reflective atmosphere and its effects can become soul-stirring.

Over the last 8 years that we’ve been holding a monthly public devotional event called Soul Food, we have learnt how the accompaniment of music to the Holy Writings can truly uplift the atmosphere. Continue reading…


youth conference9. 114 Youth Conferences Still Rockin’ the World!
The 114 Youth Conferences currently taking place around the world has Baha’i communities buzzing with excitement and activity!

Brisbane, Australia just had theirs over the weekend, and so far 86 of the 114 youth conferences have already taken place leaving 28 still to go!

These conferences were first announced by the Universal House of Justice in February this year, and the aim of these conferences is to promote an understanding of how youth can help contribute to society in a positive and meaningful way through the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program. Continue reading…


MANA-200x20010. The MANA Story …and why I think it’s important.
For the past decade I’ve had the pleasure of working with the music group MANA, who’ve recently finished recording their fifth album. Many of my friends and the Bahá’ís I’ve met while travelling have asked about MANA and why this project in particular is so important to me.

Well, before I answer that and start going on and on about MANA (which, trust me, I can do for hours), for those of you who haven’t heard of them, here’s a quick introduction.

MANA, which means “inner power” or “strength of spirit” in many of the Polynesian languages, is a musical and cultural performance group made up of young Pacific Island Bahá’ís who are mainly based in Sydney, Australia. MANA’s albums are all based on the passages from the Writings which are studied in the sequence of Ruhi books. Continue reading…


Junior-Youth-200x20011. 6 Ways You Can Support the Junior Youth Program – Even if You’re Not an Animator
Most Baha’is, both young and old, can accept that the future of our community and the driving force behind its growth will be the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program – or JYSEP.

What fewer Baha’is can reconcile with is their role within this movement. There are children who become junior youth, and junior youth who become participants, and “older” youth who become the animators that accompany them.

And then there’s the rest of us. Continue reading…


Meaningfulconversations 200x20012. Meaningful and Distinctive Conversations
Over the past few decades, The Universal House of Justice (the elected international body which guides the work of the global Bahá’í community) has outlined a vision of action for Bahá’ís that includes a number of separate but interrelated “core” activities: the gathering together of friends for the purpose of sharing prayers and reading writings of various religious traditions, the intentional study of the sacred writings of the Bahá’í Faith, programs for the spiritual education of children, and groups designed to allow pre-youth to explore themes of spiritual import and engage in service activities together.

Given the importance of these core activities to the overall efforts of the Bahá’í community, it seems prudent to discuss a concept that The Universal House of Justice describes as one of the primary impetuses behind all of these activities: engaging in “meaningful and distinctive conversations” with our friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and co-workers. Continue reading…


Junior Youth the UN Chimes In 200x20013. Junior Youth: The UN Chimes In
Every year, UNICEF publishes it’s flagship report “State of the World’s Children”. This report – read by thousands of people in governments, the United Nations, the media and the general public – typically examines a key issue affecting the welfare of children and strongly influences policy-makers and practitioners working in the field of children’s rights around the world.

So, it is exciting to see how policy-making at both the national and international levels will respond to the bold statement underlying the entire report: Young people, truly, can change the world. Continue reading…


RUHI BOOKS 200x20014. 5 Great Resources for your Ruhi Book
As most of you already know, Baha’is and their friends around the world participate in what is known as study circles, and these study circles use a sequence of books which are mainly based on the Baha’i Writings, and they were developed by the Ruhi Institute in Colombia, so the books are often referred to as Ruhi books.

I often get asked by a lot of friends about different ideas or resources they can use for their study circle, and there’s no doubt that there are a bunch of great initiatives and resources out there for us all to use. Using different ideas and accompanying resources is encouraged, and it’s a great way to enhance the study circle experience and really bring the Ruhi books to life, so I thought it would be a good idea to share five of them with you so you can benefit from them too. Continue reading…


soulfood 200x20015. Soul Food: Food for the Soul
It’s Sunday morning in the city of Melbourne, Australia, and a crowd of about 100 people gathers at the State Library of Victoria. Everyone’s eager to enter the auditorium, and they start lining up next to a sign labelled “Soul Food”. Everyone’s here because they’re hungry – but not for physical food, they’ve come to receive food for the soul.

Rated as one of the Top Ten things to do in Melbourne, Soul Food is a monthly event which has been running consistently for six years now. The program runs for about 40 minutes, and it features live readings from various faiths and philosophers woven together with beautiful imagery and live music. Continue reading…


5 Easy Ways to Involve Children in the Community 200x20016. 5 Easy Ways to Involve Children in Community Activities
In the 2000 Ridvan Message, the House of Justice said the following of children:

“Children are the most precious treasure a community can possess, for in them are the promise and the guarantee of the future.”

While reflecting on this quote recently, I was inspired to think of ways we could engage the children of our community more in our activities. These are some of the thoughts that came to mind. Some are from past experiences; others are from stories I’ve heard. Continue reading…


Junior Youth Matter 200x20017. Junior Youth Matter: 4 Principles for Social Transformation
Junior youth can change the world. There is an ever-increasing recognition of this in today’s world.

Internationally, there is more attention being paid to the education and well-being of children and adolescents. Slowly, but surely, governments have started to realise that an investment in the youngest members of their countries is the best investment that they can make.

The other day, I was talking to a friend (we both work in fields related to children and community development) about a program for junior youth that we are both working on together. We sat together, sharing our ideas for the program, but as time passed, the conversation became more philosophical in nature, and we began talking about the nature of children and youth, the kind of educational and developmental experiences that they need, and the role of programs for children and youth in the broader efforts for social transformation. Continue reading…


Memorizing-for-Bahai-Blog 200x20018. 5 Tips to Help You Memorize the Writings
Ever since I was a kid, it seemed implied in Baha’i culture that we should memorize the Writings and prayers not only because they became more readily accessible during the teaching of the Faith but also because it had a deep spiritual impact within.

“From the texts of the wondrous, heavenly Scriptures they should memorize phrases and passages” Baha’u’llah enjoins in one of His Tablets, and Hand of the Cause Collis Featherstone used to say that we should memorize prayers because when we die we can’t take our prayer books with us, but we can take our memory!

The importance of memorization has also been stressed in recent times through the Institute Process. Both as participants and as tutors we have seen ourselves and many others struggling when memorizing quotes, complaining how they are not young anymore or how the quotes are too long. But memory is like any other muscle or skill, it may be unused but it’s right there waiting for us to make the most out of it, and the more we use it, the stronger it gets. Continue reading…


Towards a Better Society 200x20019. ‘Towards a Better Society’ – A New Video about Junior Youth
Towards a Better Society is a new 53 minute documentary from the Baha’i Community of the United Kingdom which follows the movement of youth; before, during and after the London Youth Conference in 2013.

The London Youth Conference was one of 114 Youth Conferences announced by the Universal House of Justice across the globe, and the documentary captures the personal stories of young people from Camberwell (London), Sheffield and Ennis (Republic of Ireland) as they strive to work towards building a better society.

Hopefully this film will serve as an inspiring resource and tool for furthering the community building efforts at the grassroots. Continue reading…


Blog About Childrens Class 200x20020. Blogging about Children’s Classes: An Interview with Leyla Neilsen
At Baha’i Blog, we like our blogs. You’ve heard us wax lyrical about the importance of encouraging Baha’i blogging. A few months ago, we featured Blog The Faith, a fantastic resource for Baha’is who want to use blogs as a form of social discourse. In addition to its very helpful Baha’i Blogging 101, with tips for those new to blogging, the website also features examples of 8 great Baha’i Blogs to inspire you and get you started on your own.

Recently, I came across a fantastic blog by Leyla Neilsen from New Zealand devoted entirely to one of the core activities: children’s classes! It’s a fantastic resource – not just for lots of creative ideas for really great children’s classes, but also as a source of inspiration and motivation for everyone out there who currently runs, or is looking to start, their very own children’s class! Continue reading…


To-Serve-Humanity-200x20021. ‘To Serve Humanity’: A New Series of Short Videos from the Baha’i World Centre
The Baha’i World Centre has just released a series of 11 short videos commissioned by the Universal House of Justice which are collectively called To Serve Humanity. The Baha’i World News Service (BWNS) explained that “To Serve Humanity explores, through the diverse voices of a few of the 80,000 young people who participated in the 114 gatherings, the ways in which young people can contribute to the spiritual and material well-being of their communities. As the young participants articulate insights on themes covered at each conference, what it means for their generation to be dedicated to the service of humanity is brought to life. Continue reading…


Paul-Lample 200x20022. A Talk by Mr. Paul Lample on the Current Plan and the Community-building Process
Here at Baha’i Blog we’re always looking for good resources for the Baha’i world community to use, so we’re happy to share with you a recent talk by Mr. Paul Lample called ‘The Current Plan and the Community-building Process’.

Mr. Lample gave the talk in August last year at the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, USA, and he covers a number of topics including his personal thoughts on the current Plan and the activities propelling the community-building process forward. Continue reading…


Well that’s it for now. Thanks for supporting Baha’i Blog and we hope you’ve enjoyed and found this selection of 22 artcles relating to the institute process both informative and useful!

About the Author

Naysan is the editor of Baha'i Blog and he has worked in various avenues of media for two decades. He’s passionate about using the arts and media to support and explore the teachings of the Baha’i Faith and he has produced and collaborated on popular music projects like the "DawnBreaker Collective" and the successful Ruhi-inspired sequence of "MANA" albums. His experience as a producer for CNN was invaluable while working on a number of special projects for the Baha’i World Centre, including the "Building Momentum" and "Pilgrimage: A Sacred Experience" videos. If there’s a media-related Baha’i project out there, chances are that Naysan was involved with it somehow!

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Discussion 1 Comment

  1. What a labour of love dear Naysan!

    You and your devoted team are in our prayers.

    What follows?

    What follows from the pen of this amateur is an observation cum suggestion which prima facie appears critical but when viewed through the prism of the Guardian’s instructions vis-a-vis consultation is worthy of airing if only to rebut my suggestion; it is offered on my part as an attempt to reverse a thirty year stasis in enrollments and for no other reason.

    Whether one understands Direct Teaching as undignified door-knocking, proselytizing or more accurately as community building achieved by home-visiting (with or without an invitation from the residents and hopefully not occurring while other religious organizations are active in the same area) aimed at attracting participants to a range of services at a nearby Bahá’í location, this generation of believers and this world-wide and elaborate campaign of teaching inaugurated in 1996 have yet, a decade and a half into the third millennium, to successfully communicate the Message to the wider community if success is judged on the number of enrolments over the last thirty years. From my vantage point an essential ingredient is in short supply: guidance should concentrate on systematic and extensive promotion and application of the principles – all of them – and be seen by our thirsting neighbours as offering something better than what they already have. When we, high profile with rank and file believer alike, actuate private initiative linked with collective endeavour and vastly live the principles at a grassroots level thorough consolidation occurs person to person in a natural and timely manner. Our generation is called upon to take up the task. Let it be! Time is pressing! Consult please!

    Not all cultures and not all westerners willingly accept overt methods of broaching one’s religious beliefs. Many Bahá’ís, including myself, are uncomfortable and ergo unsuccessful at employing more assertive methods of introduction and-or recruitment. Traditional non-indigenous Australian culture of not long ago required religious activists to await an invitation or overtures before neighbours discussed religion. Those who are not spiritually asleep do ask when they see our fundamental principles in action. The soundness of letting them know, without our declaring the fact, that we are indeed Bahá’ís is perhaps best illustrated by recounting in brief Teaching Campaigns (TCs) that various Christian denominations recently conducted in our street. On several occasions on one memorable week end several representatives of several religions separately door knocked our home and invited my wife and our children and me to avail ourselves of their Bible based services. Inviting the public, neighbourhood contacts and local friends to attend group sessions designed to inform them of the free services and core activities provided by Bahá’ís might be described as a different matter of a similarly laudable ilk not necessarily connected to proselytising whether considered noble or invasive. (My meagre pen is unable to coin a less convoluted summation of our present approach.) What differs little however, it might well be argued – especially but not exclusively on those occasions when Bahá’í neighbourhood initiatives coincide timing wise with brave and sincere street activists representing Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and others – is the public’s perceptions of those who present at the front door in the name of religion or of the pursuant ambience in which religions are appraised as competing or selling. My view that some Western societies largely resist and eventually label pejoratively any religion presenting at the front door whether to build the local community or to recruit is perhaps entirely erroneous. No doubt exists however that uninvited evangelizing deployed by some of our Christian friends, despite no lack of effort over many years, seldom wins over the public and perhaps partly explains their own declining congregations even as populations swell in many countries. The pros and cons of the present Bahá’í approach to the community building labelled by some pundits as door-knocking might best be ascertained by conducting surveys in suburbs recently targeted and by addressing the specific question vis-à-vis the Bahá’í Faith and other confessions unintentionally conducting Teaching Campaigns in the same area(s) – concurrently. In other words, consultation that responds to constructive criticism in addition to frank surveys seeking the public’s impressions in the aftermath of our global TCs established two decades ago! Future TCs needn’t necessarily precisely mirror survey outcomes or what’s popular and easy for the average Bahá’í but those who advise decision makers and those who formulate policy can only benefit. What harm is there in this given the importance of what is at stake and the meagre successes as yet for this generation if success is gauged, at least in part, on enrolment growth? Given as an administrative fait accompli all over the world Cluster Reflection meetings as forums for extensive feedback from Bahá’ís consider candid surveying of non-Bahá’ís as to their impressions of our Teaching Campaigns and of our unsolicited and unannounced teaching initiatives. To propose a shift in emphasis towards promoting the fundamental principles, all of them, is not an an affront to institutional aurthority nor a call to abandon the current Plan.

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