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_Seraphim_
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« on: November 27, 2007, 01:06:07 AM »

Before coming Home to Orthodoxy, my wife and I were attending a small “non-denominational” protestant congregation.  We live in the Northwest U.S.  The congregation we attended was founded by 50+ “missionaries” who moved to the Northwest from Texas (Southwest U.S.). 

Soon after coming Home to Orthodoxy, we were approached by a group of “non-denominational” protestants who said their denomination/group was founded in the Northwest… and that they were sending many missionaries down to the southwest/Texan area of the U.S.

This caused me to have a particular realization
(which I had long known about subconsciously, but had never brought it to “the front of my mind”):

My entire life I have seen countless protestants move around the country/world to “missionize” places that have 50+ pages of protestant congregations in their local phonebook.  Considering the fact that virtually all 20/30+ thousand denominations of protestantism are NOT in communion with each other, this line of reasoning makes sense).

Once I encountered the above-mentioned protestant group (after converting to Orthodoxy), I ended up asking them about this exact topic:

“Why do you need to send ‘missionaries’ to places that already have hundreds of ‘Christian/protestant’ congregations?”

Their response was:
“Well…………………….. etc…………….. etc…………….. um……………….
well, all those other groups just aren’t doing it right.”

My response:
“Um… ok… so what exactly is the determining factor that affirms you are ‘right?’”

Their response:
“Well, we follow in the steps of the ‘church of Acts.’”


Rather than get farther into that particular topic (sola-scriptura vs. Tradition), I would rather just focus on the very common practice of
protestants traveling all over the world to “missionize/protestantize” places that have been protestantized for years/generations.   

Hopefully without initiating a polemical debate, I am interested in hearing both protestant and Orthodox responses to this topic:

How productive/reasonable/efficient is this protestant practice of cross-missionization?
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« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2007, 01:18:30 AM »

While I find the concept distasteful, I can off the top of my head see a possible positive outcome: the constant "stirring of the pot" that frequent missionary trips cause can lead to one (who lives in the missionized area) to either {amongst other things} (a) re-affirm their commitment to their own religion, or even (b) re-affirm their commitment to Jesus through their conversion.  Essentially, I can see this practice leading to a lower rate of nominalism in the affected population, because they are constantly being challenged to stay or inspired to change.
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« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2007, 01:56:06 AM »

On the contrary, there was the "Burned-Over District" in Upstate New York in the early 19th century. The huge influence of Evangelical Revivalists made very un-educated people make up their own Biblical interpretations and denominations.  The result was lots of schismatic groups from mainline Protestant Churches. Furthermore, churches like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Seventh Day Adventist Church, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Churches of Christ have their roots in the Burned-Over District. So, excessive missionizing can have very negative consequences indeed.
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« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2007, 05:55:13 PM »

This is an American phenomena not a Protestant One. In my neighborhood a "mission" Orthodox church has sprung up. Within five miles of this "mission" are four EO and one OO church all well established with fully functioning parishes having liturgies and programs. So before you bash the Protestants - - think again. I am curious, is this happening elsewhere among Orthodox in the USA
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« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2007, 06:00:55 PM »

On the contrary, there was the "Burned-Over District" in Upstate New York in the early 19th century. The huge influence of Evangelical Revivalists made very un-educated people make up their own Biblical interpretations and denominations.  The result was lots of schismatic groups from mainline Protestant Churches. Furthermore, churches like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Seventh Day Adventist Church, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Churches of Christ have their roots in the Burned-Over District. So, excessive missionizing can have very negative consequences indeed.

Very interesting!

This is an American phenomena not a Protestant One. 

While I agree, don't be surprised if we're "exporting" this mindset to Europe and South America...
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« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2007, 06:06:25 PM »

My former Protestant church does a lot of these mission trips within the US and they reference Christ's command to go to Jerusalem and then out into the world as their motivation.  Apparently the US is Jerusalem, no matter if one particular type of Protestant church is present in the target city or not.  Sometimes it's with the sentiment that the local church isn't doing something right, but for most of the trips sponsored by this church they do try to contact a local church and provide a service, like building projects or vacation bible school.  A more positive aspect of these mission trips (especially for youth groups) is that they get church members involved in serving others.  For those in the youth group, they tended to get more interested in the church since they felt more connected with it and not just "well, my parents make me go to church."  

Frankly, yeah, I don't like the proselytizing aspects of these mission trips but I'm all for the ones focusing on community service.
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« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2007, 06:16:51 PM »

Ваша МАТЬ учится в университете!  Cheesy

I’m selling boondoggle key chains to pay my way through college!  Cheesy
« Last Edit: November 27, 2007, 06:17:13 PM by _Seraphim_ » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2007, 06:22:54 PM »

Within five miles of this "mission" are four EO and one OO church all well established with fully functioning parishes having liturgies and programs.

But they are all Orthodox!  EO are in full communion with all other EO, OO are in full communion with all other OO...
and (God willing) it is only a matter of time before EO and OO are restored back to full communion.

There is both a Greek and Serbian parish where I live... but we both work together, we don't compete with each other or completely ignore the other parish's existence (both of which are so very common among protestant congregations).

All Orthodox missionaries are proclaiming the same message, the same Gospel, the same Church.
I don't believe protestant "cross-missionization" can be compared with cultural diversity in Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2007, 06:28:40 PM »

But they are all Orthodox!  EO are in full communion with all other EO, OO are in full communion with all other OO...
and (God willing) it is only a matter of time before EO and OO are restored back to full communion.

Not without schisms from hardliners, I fear.
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« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2007, 06:33:02 PM »

Frankly, yeah, I don't like the proselytizing aspects of these mission trips but I'm all for the ones focusing on community service.

I agree.  Service to our fellow man should never be looked down upon.

But it seems to me that protestant cross-missionization all too often leads to internal problems of congregations/denominations being overlooked or ignored because there is so much focus on reaching out externally to those outside their group.  There is plenty of needs to help satisfy, plenty of hungry mouths to feed, plenty of community service to be done everywhere.  If we neglect our own local problems and needs, how much help are we going to be to someone thousands of miles away?
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« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2007, 06:36:44 PM »

Not without schisms from hardliners, I fear.

With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.  Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2007, 06:45:51 PM »

But it seems to me that protestant cross-missionization all too often leads to internal problems of congregations/denominations being overlooked or ignored because there is so much focus on reaching out externally to those outside their group.  There is plenty of needs to help satisfy, plenty of hungry mouths to feed, plenty of community service to be done everywhere.  If we neglect our own local problems and needs, how much help are we going to be to someone thousands of miles away?

On the other hand, that can also turn into an excuse to pass the buck and not do anything elsewhere.  Remember, the Good Samaritan was away from his home, as well.  The key is to avoid focusing on our immediate neighbors to the exclusion of our far-away neighbors, while taking care not to help our far-away neighbors at the expense of our immediate neighbors.
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« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2007, 06:51:17 PM »

On the other hand, that can also turn into an excuse to pass the buck and not do anything elsewhere.  Remember, the Good Samaritan was away from his home, as well.  The key is to avoid focusing on our immediate neighbors to the exclusion of our far-away neighbors, while taking care not to help our far-away neighbors at the expense of our immediate neighbors.

Very good point.  Too many people use foreign missions as a way to escape their problems back home and appear to be the perfect Christian in anonymity.  (And I point to myself here ... it's an easy trap to fall into.) 
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« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2008, 01:42:33 AM »

My entire life I have seen countless protestants move around the country/world to “missionize” places that have 50+ pages of protestant congregations in their local phonebook. 

Sad Sad  When there are so many places that need to hear the message.

Do you think sometimes it may depend on the situation?  I know here in Kansas City, there is a EO mission right in the middle of the city.  Then there are 10 or so established EO churches in Kansas City.  But I think the mission is right.  They are reaching people the other churches aren't.  So to me it may seem redundant but to the target audience, I think it's right.

check em out.  I love this place:
http://www.stmaryofegypt.net/
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« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2008, 01:04:43 PM »

Throwing this out for you all to consider.

When a Christian group goes to a country/place where few Christians are or where the need for compassionate service is needed - - to me this is a mission.


What gets called a mission in the US is often a new church opening up so that they can do church "they're preferred way"  In Protestant circles it usually involves changing worship styles, new preacher, etc.  This happens in Orthodox circles as well. A new mission changes the litugical language, style of worship, church programs. Orthodox are no immune from this.
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« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2008, 01:18:38 PM »

Right, that seems to be the trend.  Fortunately, there are still missions that focus more on service than on evangelism.  I went on a mission trip to China a few years ago and the idea was to befriend a few Chinese people to evangelize them.  I preferred to just make friends with a few Chinese people and learn their culture.  A few were interested in things like Christian holidays and such, but I never pushed it.  Consequently, no one "converted" while I was there, but I do still email a few Chinese friends.  That's been 7 years ago now.  I would argue that that sort of contact is far more beneficial than a hit and run style mission trip where people go, do a week or two of work and are never seen again.
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« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2008, 10:18:43 PM »

My thoughts:

Protestant cross-missionization exists for competition.  Joe Blow reads the Bible, feels inspired, doesn't keep his zeal at the "humble" level and starts up yet another Protestant denomination.  Nine times out of eight, Joe will claim that all those that do not listen to what he has to say are either wrong or damned with no chance of salvation.  Joe spreads his ways to a community, studies them and then showers all with how the existing denomination of the area is wrong.
Long story short: another denomination that Christians everywhere may have to compete with at some time or another.

Orthodox cross-missionization exists for need.  In the early days of the 20th century, people from somewhere, let's say Greeks, would arrive, send letters back home for a priest, priest would arrive, church would be built and everyone is happy.  Different people arrive to the same place, let's say... Russians, and the same thing happens, but instead a Russian priest arrives instead of a Greek priest.
Long story short: people need to know what is being said.  Same stuff, different language.

These days, the situation can be a bit more complicating.  In Seattle, there is a ROCOR cathedral a block away from a Greek church.  The same thing can be said in many other places, but with different jurisdictions.  Maybe in the early 20th century parishes for different ethnicities were needed.  These days, not so much which means that more cooperation between jurisdictions is needed.

Hopefully, whenever new Orthodox parishes are needed, there is cooperation and not competition.  Cooperation would mean one parish where one parish is needed.  Competition would mean multiple parishes where only one is needed.

Just my thoughts.
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« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2008, 08:46:47 PM »

Long story short: people need to know what is being said.  Same stuff, different language...

Exactly... as opposed to Protestantism's "same bible, different theology."

Cooperation would mean one parish where one parish is needed.
Competition would mean multiple parishes where only one is needed.
Just my thoughts.

Insightful thoughts.  Thanks for sharing.
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« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2008, 11:55:08 PM »

Exactly... as opposed to Protestantism's "same bible, different theology."
That's only the tip of the iceberg.  With Protestantism, you're lucky if it is even the same Bible!  Well, it is the same Bible, but vastly differing translations.  Not to mention that if one uses the Deutorocannon one can sometime be called "heretic" or similar things.  Which of course spawns different theology, different life, different worship, different practices, different this, different that; next thing we know there is a whole new perversion of Christianity.

But I digress.

Quote
Insightful thoughts.  Thanks for sharing.
No problem.  Smiley
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« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2008, 05:11:20 PM »

But they are all Orthodox!  EO are in full communion with all other EO, OO are in full communion with all other OO...
and (God willing) it is only a matter of time before EO and OO are restored back to full communion.

There is both a Greek and Serbian parish where I live... but we both work together, we don't compete with each other or completely ignore the other parish's existence (both of which are so very common among protestant congregations).

All Orthodox missionaries are proclaiming the same message, the same Gospel, the same Church.
I don't believe protestant "cross-missionization" can be compared with cultural diversity in Orthodoxy.

Yes, there are five Orthodox parishes in my city (two Antiochian, a Russian, a Greek, and a Romanian OCA church) and we are all of the same Church. Sunday of Orthodoxy is celebrated at a different parish every year and all the priests and many members from each church attend. Same with other feast days where the churches will celebrate the feast together like last year during the Feast of the Annunciation, the clergy and members of my church celebrated with the Feast at the Romanian church (which is named for the Annunciation). That is not the case with Protestants because there are so many different divisions between them and they all think each other is wrong and the other right.
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« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2008, 12:25:30 PM »

Andrew.  ^ That is so cool. I wish con-celebration of feasts would occur in other cities as well.
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« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2008, 01:01:21 PM »

^^Concelebrations are always great, and are made for TV moments in local press coverage!!

(hint, hint if anyone is serving on their parish's Public Relations committee and thinking of writing a press release for Sunday of Orhtodoxy celebrations to local newspapers, radio and TV stations... ;  it'd be a great idea to do so!)
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