There Should Be A Synergy Between District and People Introducing Newcomers
If the district is working well any district member who is introducing newcomers should find that the support of the district and their work as a sponsor should form a synergy, each supporting the other.
The District Can Lay the Foundation
The district members can lay the foundation by chanting with determination to bring new people into the district.
When a member introduces someone new, he or she should then follow up with them by:
- Teaching the newcomer how to chant and set a goal.
- Giving them things to read.
- Being available to answer questions.
- Following up to make sure their newcomer knows about meetings they might be interested in attending.
- Teaching them gongyo
- The district can support these first steps by making sure introductory materials are available at every meeting. These materials could include:
- Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo cards
- liturgy books
- The Winning Life or Roadmap to Happiness, World Tribunes and Living Buddhism periodicals.
Some districts have a folder to be given to each newcomer that includes basic Buddhist concepts and a list of common terms and what they mean. One such folder included a brief history of Buddhism, the practice , what Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo means, a brief explanation of the Gohonzon, and what is on the altar. The new person can read about these things at their leisure.
District Can Support Early Steps
The district can also support by having a weekly or bi-weekly meeting with a Buddhist topic. Doing this on a regular basis can teach a new person some of the basics of Buddhist philosophy and give them experiences of chanting with other people. Experienced members can provide encouragement for the newcomer and model how to use the practice by sharing personal experiences.
Much more of the work hinges on the person introducing someone, if the district only has one meeting a month. The sponsor, then, will then have a greater responsibility for teaching the newcomer the basics of Buddhist philosophy and how to use the practice.
Leaders Monitor The Progress of the Newcomer
One district keeps a list of new people. The person who introduced them is the main contact point. The leaders chant regarding the progress of the new people. They also follow up with the sponsor if they haven’t heard anything recently about what is happening. In this way new people don’t get dropped through the cracks.
Experienced Members Guide the Newer Ones
If the member introducing new people is relatively new, more experienced members can help guide them in the steps of bringing a new person into the practice. They could also support by driving the newcomer to a meeting if needed and go on a visit with the sponsor if requested.
In this manner bringing in new people becomes the work of the whole district, members giving support as needed.
Eight Ways a District Can Support the Introduction of New People
- Chant for new people to join the district.
- Provide introductory materials and articles to be available at meetings.
- Hold a regular weekly or bi-weekly meeting with a Buddhist concept.
- Use personal stories to teach the new ones how to use the practice.
- Make sure new people don’t fall through the cracks, by chanting for them and following up with the sponsors concerning their progress.
- Guide less experienced members in the steps of bringing a new person into the practice.
- Give practical support, such as driving someone to a meeting.
- Accompany the sponsor on a visit if requested.
Remember it takes a community to raise a newcomer.
“It Takes A Community”,(C), Margaret Blaine, The Practical Buddhist