It is important to hear from the congregational field preachers, the people who are actually serving as congregational preachers as their primary service to Lord Krishna. When we read their realizations, it’s enlightening for all of us. What do they feel? What do they experience? What are the challenges that they face? What are the goals that they have? We hope that some of these questions will be answered in the following pages.
Sometimes Srila Prabhupada criticized inactive Hindus who just believe, but don’t practice defending, propagating, or protecting their own religion. We want to avoid a static congregation. Static congregations don’t help spread the Krishna consciousness movement, don’t help support the temples, nor help in saving the conditioned souls—this is what we don’t want. There’s a need for engaging everyone in congregational preaching. We want dynamic congregations in every temple. We want congregations that are actively preaching and are empowered, enlivened, and enthusiastically bringing in new devotees. We want congregations that are supporting Krishna conscious programs to their capacity. Everyone has their different capacity. Many devotees have household duties, and it is understood that there will be a limit to the amount of time they can give. But there’s a need for everyone to identify themselves as congregational preachers to make a bigger community. We need everyone to give some time and some energy to make it all progress.
In 1972 or 1973, Srila Prabhupada urged the English devotees to reproduce the wonderful book distribution results of their American godbrothers. The boxes of Krishna books and The Teachings of Lord Caitanya filled the book room at the Bhaktivedanta Manor and devotees were wondering how they could distribute so many books. Tribhuvanatha Dasa, who was very enthusiastic about Hare Krishna festivals and who had been very much encouraged by Srila Prabhupada, became concerned that perhaps he should stop the festivals and simply distribute books instead. When he expressed this to him on a morning walk, Srila Prabhupada quickly turned around, struck the end of his cane on the ground, and said very firmly: “No. Everything should go on simultaneously – side by side.”
Temple devotees should be trained in congregational preaching so that they can make new devotees from people who don’t fit into the temple devotee profile and make them part of the congregation. We have options to offer. Everyone should know what those options are and the methods by which we identify whether a person is suitable to be a temple devotee or is better situated as a congregational devotee. Then we can preach accordingly.