One of the unique features of the Baha'i Faith is that the organizational structure of Baha'i communities, and a future Baha'i world society and civilization, has been explicitly established by the founder of the Faith, Baha'u'llah. There is a spiritual significance when one person in a town becomes Baha'i. Such a significance is most probably not visible by outward considerations, since after all this is only one person, and given the realities of life he or she may not be able to do very much. By the same token when first a Local Spiritual Assembly is formed in a town, this is of great significance in a spiritual sense, but again sociologically this may not be regarded important, since they are after all only nine people, and given the realities of life they may not be able to impact their society very much. However if we see both of these occurrences as milestones along a path, then a new vision will emerge.
We consider that all people are traveling on a path that takes them closer to their true destination. Man's destiny is to fulfill his purpose in life. Our purpose in life individually is to know our Creator and to worship him. Our collective purpose in life is to build an ever advancing civilization. Both of these purposes are better fulfilled when we recognize the Manifestation of God and cling to His vision. In this sense then we can say that all people are walking towards Baha'u'llah. This is true whether people are conscious of this or not. It is for this reason that both the declaration of the first believer and the formation of the first institution has a mystical significance.
But beyond such a spiritual significance, the societal task of nurturing both the individual and the institution to full maturity is a long road. Many Assemblies were formed, without functioning very much. As the friends in all clusters grow in their understanding of the fundamental verities, their appreciation for the importance of the Assembly will grow. Paragraph 19 of the letter of the 28 December 2010 of the Universal House of Justice then calls to attention the necessity that in this Five Year Plan these nascent institutions take clear and decided steps towards building greater capacity.
Because the vast majority of the clusters that have experienced large scale growth are among the rural parts of the world, attention is first paid to this category of local institutions. With the advent of institute process, the task of raising the capacity of these institutions has taken a clear goal and direction, and that is the extent to which these Assemblies can contribute to the dynamics of growth.
In studying this paragraph the following questions are suggested:
1 - The work of the Counselors is primarily concerned with raising the capacity of the National Spiritual Assemblies and Regional Baha'i Councils. How can Local Spiritual Assemblies benefit from this vision?
2 - Which type of clusters are experiencing large scale expansion and consloidation?
3 - What has been the story of Local Spiritual Assemblies in your region so far? What has been their strengths and weaknesses?
4 - How can the members of Local Spiritual Assemblies best learn about the dynamics of growth?
5 - Given the interaction between learning and action, if you have been elected to serve on a Local Spiritual Assembly, would this fact increase or reduce your responsibility to personally be involved in serving the core activities in your cluster?
Baha'u'llah wrote: "The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established wherein shall gather counsellors to the number of Bahá... They should consider themselves as entering the Court of the presence of God, the Exalted, the Most High, and as beholding Him Who is the Unseen. It behoveth them to be the trusted ones of the Merciful among men and to regard themselves as the guardians appointed of God for all that dwell on earth. It is incumbent upon them to take counsel together and to have regard for the interests of the servants of God, for His sake, even as they regard their own interests, and to choose that which is meet and seemly. Thus hath the Lord your God commanded you. Beware lest ye put away that which is clearly revealed in His Tablet. Fear God, O ye that perceive." [Bah'u'llah, Kitab-i-Aqdas, page 30]