04 December 2010

Statistics and Spirit

Earlier in the Five Year Plan, I was obsessed with statistics.  Cluster Growth Reports?  I devoured them like candy.  They fed my desire to know exactly what was happening so that I could determine next steps.

Then something shifted.  My teaching team's efforts started to bear fruit.  We grew in numbers, but more than that, we grew in spirit.  And ironically enough, now that our statistics show the beginnings of real growth in this neighborhood, I find I need them less.  I'm happier to know how one junior youth is feeling safe enough to express interest in new subjects, or that a parent attended children's classes for the first time.  I'm focused on the confidence our new teachers have begun to show, and the spiritually-based friendships now developing between former strangers.

We're expanding the number of our classes, home visits, and study circles, but what we're witnessing is a steady process of transformation.  I'm still recording the numbers, but it's the stories that have captured my heart.


  1. Over the years I have found statistics to be misleading most of the time. They can definitely be misused to create a false appearance of progress or failure. I wonder if there is a way to systematically document the real successes in spirit that you are experiencing-or maybe that's the wrong question.

  2. We really have begun to think about numbers in new ways. The numbers mean something - they represent something. They're a quantitative manifestation of a spiritual process.

    In Massachusetts, we've started to see each number in the cluster growth profile as representative of souls. So a number like 1 or 2 new believers actually represents many hours of nurturing and accompaniment, many loving conversations, many individual actions and choices. That 1 new devotional gathering listed in a box on a page really stands in place of the decision by a handful of people to commit to gathering together on a regular basis, developing new understandings of their identities as spiritual beings, raising the devotional character of their neighborhood.

  3. The National Assembly of the United States offered some statistics a while back, reporting that something like 50 percent of the declared Baha'is during that last 40-50 years left the Baha'i Faith and /or effectively became inactive. Grow stagnated.
    Those stats are vital to understand as much as numbers showing growth.

  4. But really, even those statistics have to be studied more deeply. There was a period in which proclamation was considered teaching, many were attracted superficially with the evident results. We are learning!!