Core activities are activities that make up the core of Baha’i community life worldwide. There are four generally recognized core activities: devotional meetings, study circles, junior youth groups and children’s classes.
The term "core activities" gained widespread popularity during the series of Five Year Plans spearheaded by the Universal House of Justice in the early years of the 21st Century. Through these plans, the Universal House of Justice focused the Bahá’í community on community development, and systematization of best-practices, hoping to reduce the "boom and bust" cycles of community growth encountered in the previous century. With this renewed focus, the Bahá’í community began to incorporate more active service, socio-economic development efforts ballooned in number, and local and national communities became more focused on examining the needs of their wider non-Bahá’í communities, to see how the Faith could aid them. The earliest days of the 21st Century saw the Bahá’ís begin to pare down their administrative structures, appoint fewer committees, and focus on very specific goals outlined by the Universal House of Justice - namely the creation of small grass-roots study groups, the creation of more neighbourhood-centric children's classes, and the increase in the spiritual character of the community through small devotional gatherings. The Bahá’ís were encouraged not to see these "core activities" as simply Bahá’í activities. Rather, these were to be seen as activities which were open to the wider community, but would be characteristic of a Bahá’í's community life.
Groups that meet regularly to study something, generally a workbook. Study circles are a part of the Institute process, and combine study of the text at hand with acts of service and community development. The most commonly used material for study circles is the Ruhi curriculum, though other curricula exist.
Classes that provide spiritual and moral education to children - usually from ages 5 to 11. The third book in the Ruhi series is dedicated to the creation and running of such classes, and includes actual lesson plans. Further books - 3A, etc. are being developed in order to provide teacher-ready material up to the age of 11.
Meetings open to all, regardless of religion or faith, and dedicated to sharing prayers and readings from sacred scripture. Gatherings such as these can be as simple as two people meeting for the purpose of praying together. The term "devotional" refers to the concept that regular prayer is part of devotion to God.
Groups that are open to all junior youth (young adolescents between the ages of 11 to 14) regardless of faith, and are increasingly being held at the neighbourhood level. The groups help junior youth to develop their moral, ethical and spiritual framework in an enjoyable group setting, facilitated by an older youth or adult, known as an ‘animator’. In the scheme of Ruhi workbooks, there is now a book (Book 5) dedicated to training such animators. The Universal House of Justice describes junior youth as a “special group with special needs, as they are somewhat in between childhood and youth” (Ridván 2000 message).