The beloved Guardian, in the early years of his ministry, set out criteria for Spiritual Assemblies and Bahá’í teachers regarding the enrollment of new believers. In a letter dated 24 October 1925 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’í s of the United States and Canada, Shoghi Effendi wrote:
I would only venture to state very briefly and as adequately as present circumstances permit the principal factors that must be taken into consideration before deciding whether a person may be regarded a true believer or not. 'Full recognition of the station of the Forerunner, the Author, and the True Exemplar of the Bahá’í Cause, as set forth in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá's testament; unreserved acceptance of, and submission to, whatsoever has been revealed by their Pen; loyal and steadfast adherence to every clause of our Beloved's sacred Will; and close association with the spirit as well as the form of the present day Bahá’í Administration throughout the world -- these I conceive to be the fundamental and primary considerations that must be fairly, discreetly and thoughtfully ascertained before reaching such a vital decision. (Shoghi Effendi: Bahá’í Administration, p.90)
Later in his ministry, however, after the administrative capacity to embrace larger numbers grew, the Guardian alerted the friends to the danger of being too rigid in the requirements for becoming a Bahá’í. For example, a letter dated 9 July 1957, written on his behalf to a National Spiritual Assembly, stated:
As he has written the Central and East Africa Assembly, he feels that the friends should be very careful not to place hindrances in the way of those who wish to accept the Faith. If we make the requirements too rigorous, we will cool off the initial enthusiasm, rebuff the hearts and cease to expand rapidly. The essential thing is that the candidate for enrolment should believe in his heart in the truth of Bahá’u’lláh. Whether he is literate or illiterate, informed of all the Teachings or not, is beside the point entirely. When the spark of faith exists the essential Message is there, and gradually everything else can be added unto it.
Today, we can generally be open and flexible in accepting individuals into the Bahá’í community. As the believers invite growing numbers of individuals to participate in a united effort to apply Bahá’u’lláh's Teachings to the construction of a divine civilization, it becomes clear that the process of becoming a Bahá’í is best viewed as a continuumbased on independent investigation, engagement in service, and increasing understandingrather than as dichotomous states of membership and non-membership.