Some simple ways to evangelise that anyone--and because of their simplicity and ease, everyone--should consider doing:
- Invite people to Church. Even if you don't think they'll come, invite them. If they say no, then let God deal with them, but it's our duty to at least try to get them there. If they aren't Orthodox but are regular church-goers, invite them to Vespers.
- Don't pound them over the head with Orthodox rhetoric or talk about how great Orthodoxy is in a way that makes it sound like a sales pitch. Let them explore for themselves, and if they show interest, follow up. Otherwise, don't pressure them. Make sure they know that you're there, but don't insist on telling them 101 things that you
think are great about Orthodoxy.
- When you arrive at Church, park your car far away. I'm serious. Some people--usually first time visitors--will look for any excuse to not attend Church; if they can tell themselves that they "can't find a parking spot" then they will leave. I know this sounds dum, and that they weren't serious to begin with, but it's not dum, and who cares if they are serious! Do we say the same things about someone who has a life-threatening illness but won't go to the hospital? We can't allow Satan to dissuade them from going into the hospital. If they don't attend, let it be because of them, not because of us (ie. not because we took up all the parking spaces and they'll have to walk a distance). This one applies especially to the youth, and obviously doesn't apply as much to the elderly.
- Greet new people if
they look like they want to be greeted. There's two mistakes commonly made here: people fall all over a new person who actually just wants to be an "unnoticed observer," or people don't say anything to someone who's looking for the love and warmth of Christ. We need to think about what this person appears to want before we avoid them or start talking their ear off. If they aren't interested, don't both them (except maybe to say hello or nod)! If they are very interested, invite them to dinner or something similar.
- One thing we learned in "seeker sensitive" classes that I think is applicable in Orthodoxy as well is related to the last point. It is said that new comers will not usually stay in a Church where they do not know at least 2 people or two families. It just makes them feel isolated and like they are outsiders. I'm not saying that we should become charismatics and start hugging everyone and stop in the middle of the service to have a "meet and greet" time. We should, however, each take notice of a new comer, and consider getting to know them, or at least making contact.
- I find it hard to believe that Churches still do not have web sites on the internet. Goodness, you can get them for free, and you don't even need programming knowledge. You can make a church website on geocities in one night's sitting, and you can update it in a very short time each week. In an age when so many people are online, I don't understand how some Churches still don't have websites. There's also the fact that the websites (even if not updated regularly) will at least have service times, directions, etc. on it. I learnt something sad early on as I was exploring Orthodoxy: Priests, generally, don't answer phones, and they don't return your calls either (even when they have an answering machine). One Greek Orthodox Church I called had Holy Week Services discussed on the answering machine... I called in NOVEMBER. There was no mention of normal service times for the rest of the year. This is exactly what will keep people from becoming Orthodox. I know, it sounds dum and like they aren't very serious. Again, we can't let Satan win by planting seeds in a fickle person. If they are going to not become Orthodox, let it not be because of the shortcomings of we Orthodox (though they be many).
- Give new comers something. When I was at Nicholas' church a few weeks ago, I was amazed. Even though they knew we were Orthodox, they gave us a brochure and a cassette tape. Who gives out cassette tapes? That's an expensive thing to do, but they did it. I'm not saying that we need to give out such things to every new comer, but giving them something will help them remember the church and Orthodoxy throughout the week, and might make them come back the next week.
Ok, I'm probably sounding like Warren's Purpose Driven Church,
I'll stop now.
PS. Just to clarify regarding the cassette, it wasn't like a short sermon cassette tape, which costs a buck.. it was a tape of a Liturgy, it was the same tape they were selling in their bookstore for something like $8.