They don't do it. They live it.
It's not about getting people to "join" them. It's about living it. It's not about the Wat or The Temple. It's about your home and your family.
Every home and business - shops, restaurants, dental or medical clinics - have a small "Spirit House" just outside or near the entrance. Sometimes it has a statue of Buddha in it. Often times it does not.
Freshly strung flowers are hung from it and, at the start of each new day, a bowl of rice, something to drink (I've noticed the Buddha apparently likes strawberry or cherry Fanta), and some incense is lit and put out in front of the Spirit House.
I watch someone - sometimes male, sometimes female - from the family come out, place the "offering tray" in front of the Spirit House, bow reverently and, for just a few moments, pray.
They pray, I've learned, mostly for the two pathways to Nirvana or Enlightenment - prajna (wisdom) and karuna (compassion).
Wisdom comes from the awareness and understanding - and, ultimately, acceptance - that everything is dynamic. The world and all creatures are both in flux and interrelated. Compassion comes from Synyata or emptiness, understanding that the self is "no self" without others.
One can not have wisdom without compassion. Neither can there be compassion without wisdom. The two are deeply, profoundly, interrelated. Well, one can have one without the other but one would be out of balance. Achieve a balance of them both, and you have a greater opportunity to achieve Enlightenment or Nirvana.
As Mary Oliver writes,
"You do not have to be good.And, God knows, you are not expected to tithe or pledge to your Wat. You are, however, expected to be generous and to bring food and water and clothing to the monks who are, essentially, teachers and spiritual guides. Oh, and flowers, candles and incense to Buddha which you purchase from the monks at a teeny-tiny profit to the Wat.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting."
Maybe that's because there's no guilt-tripping. No talk about "sin" or an external force of evil known as "the Devil" or how "Buddha saves" you from your sin if you only "repent and turn to the Lord". No "original sin" you were born with, only "cravings" which are a normal part of life which one learns to empty oneself of if one wants to end suffering in one's life and the world.
No promises of tomorrow or what happens after you die, only instruction on how to live a moral life.
At home. Where you are. With your family and friends and those who come into your life or home or school or business.
I suspect the Temple gets more this way than most churches reap from well-designed well executed Evangelism or Stewardship Program.
That's because Buddhism is not a religion. It's a way of life. One, I'm discovering, is highly compatible with the way of Jesus.
It really is the way Jesus lived his life, isn't it? Near as I can tell, he didn't have a Temple of his own. He didn't have an office or keep office hours. He went to were people were, teaching, healing and, on at least a few occasions, preaching.
I see the Buddhist monks doing the same thing. And, I see an entire nation of Buddhists who are working out and living their faith publicly.
What if, from the time a child drew her or his first breath, s/he breathed in prayer? What if the first sound to greet you as you ushered forth from the womb to enter the world was the chanting of prayers of joy and thanksgiving?
What if, no matter who you are or what you are or how much education or money or social status you have, people bowed to you when they met you? What if every day of your life, you saw your parents making offerings and praying at the Spirit House, and they taught you how to do that, too? What if the point of your whole life was to learn wisdom and show compassion?
And, what if, wherever you went - home or away - people greeted you with a sign of reverent prayer?
What would happen to Christianity if we practiced our faith less in church and more in our lives and homes and families?
Isn't that a better form of evangelism?
Call me a heretic if you wish, but ultimately, isn't that the best form of evangelism: to help yourself and others become a better member of the human race and a member of the family of God through the attainment of wisdom and compassion than to become a member of a Church?
Unless, of course, the church took more seriously the task of helping people attain wisdom and compassion and lead moral lives.
Then, I think, absolutely everyone would want to belong.
I know I would. Wouldn't you?