Ninebranches | Hack Your Home Visits
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23 Jul Hack Your Home Visits


I’ve got a dirty secret. My Baha’i community doesn’t do home visits.

There’s a story to it, I’m sure. As far as I can tell, there’s an unspoken agreement not to even say the term “home visit” out loud for fear of making someone upset. Not surprisingly, there’s been some pain somewhere in the past — pain that predates my arriving here about three years ago. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but I know that it’s bigger than I am and that I should steer clear. My instinct is that both the visitors and the visitees felt uncomfortable and forced.

Of course, it shouldn’t be this way.

All of this did get me thinking, however, that home visits do seem pretty foreign in our Western culture. “What do you mean, I just invite myself over to someone’s house?” is a pretty hard sentiment for most Americans to internalize, no matter how many times we go through Ruhi Book 2. I know that I can get pretty annoyed when people, even great friends, drop by unannounced or without regard to my schedule. Heck, I get upset when people call me unannounced.


Life is busy, you know?

Don’t get me wrong — priorities are important (and what could be more important than serving or teaching the Faith?), but you have to respect other people’s space and time, especially in our culture where we believe that everyone should be running around like a chicken with their head cut off.

What can we do?

Well, let’s look at what a home visit should be like. First, it needs to be spiritual in focus:

“If a home visit… is defined in the courses as an opportunity to enter into a deep conversation on spiritual matters, then it should not be reduced to a mere social call in which the Faith may not even be mentioned.” — Turning Point 42.34, Messages from the Universal House of Justice

Second (and this is just my opinion), a home visit needs to be real. When you leave someone else’s home, there should be no doubt that you care about them as people, and not just as someone to be deepened. You need to share in their joys and in their triumphs, and you can’t disappear when the campaign you’re conducting is over.

Home visits between the Friends should end up making friends.

Wait, but our culture frowns on home visits, so how do we work around this?

Simple. What do you do if you want to make friends with someone? Do you wait around until they invite you over? Maybe, if you’re really shy. Do you invite yourself over? No, not in Western culture. It’s obvious, isn’t it? You invite them over to you. Make dinner. Turn on the game. Study a prayer.

Put another way: If you need permission (which you do in our society), sometimes it helps to give it to the other person first.

The great thing about inviting someone over to your place is that it gives you enough time to prepare, and it takes the stress off of them. It just feels awkward to ask someone else to host the first social encounter, right? By doing it this way instead, they don’t have to clean, they don’t have to cook; they’re taken care of. Who doesn’t like that?

Soon, perhaps they’ll be inviting you over for a home visit. Now the pressure’s off of you to fulfill some aspect of a growth cycle with a reluctant participant — instead you can build a spiritual relationship with a friend.

Permission granted, problem solved, awkwardness greatly reduced.

Why not invite a new believer or someone you haven’t seen in awhile over this weekend?

  • M
    Posted at 06:18h, 23 July

    This was great. We are trying this now where we live and it’s been 2 years since we moved in. 🙂 I think this is a great idea. We’ve only done one so far but hopefully it will grow :$

    • caleb
      Posted at 13:36h, 23 July

      That’s great to hear! I wish you a lot of success in your endeavor. 🙂

  • Candac
    Posted at 14:28h, 23 July

    Nicely said, a good conversation starter.

    • caleb
      Posted at 16:38h, 23 July

      Thanks, Candac!

  • John Irving
    Posted at 17:44h, 24 July

    Any suggestions for where the poorer people will not accept invitations to the wealthier people’s homes because they feel they cannot return the invitation to the wealthier people?

  • Susan
    Posted at 17:50h, 29 July

    My illustrious brainiac Baha’i friend, young father family of two exceedingly precocious children, globe trotting medical Doctor, husband to brainiac wife who is writing a master’s thesis in design, made a presentation on Ethiopian culture in my former community.

    He described how hwe grew up in a place where people simply stand outside and wait for guest to appear.
    Sort of – Tag! YOUR ARE MY GUEST!

    Or people are taught to enter your house when they they smell you making coffee because…. it is well understood that if anyone making coffee (from beans you or neighbor picked green and are now roasting), NEEDS … A GUEST!!

    This is actually what “advanced society” really looks like. Friendly, open, caring. Not nervous, scared of sharing , frightened of intimacy.

    We need guests. We need to be guests.

    This is what the Universal House of Justice is saying to me. I need a guest, so I can practice kindness, hospitality, courtesy, and selflessness, which are best learned by doing and this kind of doing is best experienced as “HOSPITALITY.”

    We who live amongst so many gifts and advantages nevertheless, shrivel under the weight of our poor, stunted, materialistic culture.

  • Anna
    Posted at 09:09h, 02 August

    Nicely written. I will share it. I usually spend time at their door not wanting them to feel pressured to invite me in. One family I stay in the car and visit from there or invite them into my air conditioned car because they have so many dogs. We’ve been doing this for three years. They do come to our place for parties. I love having folks over but if I haven’t straightened up I am embarrassed by the dirty dishes in the sink and newspapers piled disorderly on the floor. There are certain folks I have gotten to know who we have developed a friendship so we are fine visiting each other unannounced. I still feel better to call or text first. I too like texting first, now that I know how.

  • Kitty Lutness
    Posted at 16:51h, 02 August

    Alternatives that avoid focusing on economic differences – or awkwardness about cleaning the house: invite someone for a walk in a park, a hike, a bike ride, a day at the beach, or sitting watching children play at a playground, or a trip to town, to a thrift shop, a farmers’ market, to a program at the public library, or a service project like picking up trash or raking leaves. Any activity that meets the interests and physical abilities of both, and doesn’t embarrass either, can promote friendship and elevated conversation.

  • Jeannine Jaramillo
    Posted at 22:45h, 02 August

    We often meet on neutral ground for lunch or coffee. This eliminates the need for anyone to clean, and the economic difference as well 🙂

  • Lana87
    Posted at 06:48h, 03 February

    Verify out our write-up on Activities for kids (and parents) in Brussels for approaches to meet other Moms and Dads.

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