Below find two comments from an active teacher of the Faith - Gil - that summarizes in simple language many of the learnings that have been gathered about effective teaching methods. The first was posted to the Yahoo! group "gnats into Eagles" while the second was shared personally. They are being reproduced with his kind permission.
November 30, 2009
My beloved Baha'i Friends,
I am not sure, either, about what the Universal House of Justice want us to do, but I do have an idea of what, IMHO, would be the kind of Teaching that Baha'u'llah, 'Abdu'l-Baha, and the Guardian wanted.
Now this is the message that I get from all of them: Become a very virtuous person that could win the trust of his neighbors and acquaintances both on and off the job. After getting to be their friend, or even maybe as you become their friend, you would gently tell them about the Baha'i Faith. You invite them to your house for dinner or just an evening of conversation or cards or maybe chess. This is the type of fireside that I suspect 'Abdu'l-Baha was talking about.
Now because you, the Baha'i is well versed in religion, you might mention something about it. When this happens, the person might ask you what religion you belong to. Now When you say the Baha'i Faith, he or she will ask what is that...
I was talking to a crowd about a month or so ago and when I told all people there that I was a Baha'i, a young lady said that she knew about that religion and would I give a talk to the Unitarian Church she belongs to about the Baha'i Faith. Now you know, after she pulled the gun on me, I gave in and volunteered to do the talk (that a joke). Now let's talk about making more and more friends. Well if you gently gave them the Story and they were not interested you don't persist unless you know that's what they are wanting you to do.
About thirty years ago I asked one of the Hands of the Cause what should I do in then (in the case that someone isn't interested). He said: "Make new friends." I know it will take time and sacrifices, but what can we give God but our lives teaching the Faith. Well, that is what he said. The point that I am trying to get across is that you make a lot of friends, and then make them Baha'is with your actions and your words. If this hasn't worked then I would say follow the Universal House of Justice's lead and study the Ruhi (courses), but I think that you will be able to do both. I am also in favor of anyone teaching in any way they want as long as they can get new members and make the Faith stronger. I know that all of you have these same thoughts but I just thought that I would try to put them all together.
With the Love of Baha'u'llah ...
My friend, when I first became a Baha'i, nobody I ever talked to knew about the Baha'i Faith, but now when I talk to people I am not surprised to know there are several who know about it, has some relative who is a Baha'i, or maybe even read about it.
Let me tell you a little episode that I went through when I was teaching on the street. After a long day of going up and down streets and telling everyone we could about the Faith, we went to bed that night tired. The next morning I went to an area that I had be chosen to teach in. The very first person said: "I know about that; yesterday a man told me about it just two blocks over." Another time I went into an ice-cream shop and was asking if anyone knew about the Faith. A black man in the back said he did. He learned about this white middle class religion from one of the students at college in Edinburgh, Texas. More and more are hearing about it and even though they don't become Baha'i right away, they store the information and who knows what may make them declare? Some of this is in the Hand of God, but we have our responsibility too. And that is to show the Faith in words and actions. Also to show them our love.
Used with the author's kind permission.