No, I don’t think it will be bad or terribly confusing for your children to visit other jurisdictions. In the summers, I frequently took my children to visit friends/family in other jurisdictions. We saw and heard interesting Orthodox things that we would not have experienced otherwise. Because my son has been an alter boy from the time he was 4 or 5, this gave him a chance to participate in the “other side” of the DL. Enroll your kids in Orthodox church camps, Orthodox basketball youth leagues, or take them to Orthodox youth functions if there are any in your area. They will find other kids that they recognize quickly from different jurisdictions. I am hoping my adult children will recognize (and talk to because they are very shy) other Orthodox adults they previously met in their youthful, Orthodox travels and of course, date them.
I understand your sadness with declining church membership. I wish there was a “play book” (like football, basketball, and etc.... Am I joking here?) where we would know how to appropriately encourage people to come in and visit us in Orthodoxy. Some of our churches have been very ethnic since they are over 100 years old. It might take decades for anyone to even consider looking at these churches, even if these churches now consist only of new members. The reputation of “ethnic and I won’t fit in” remains for years. At the church I attend, I have jokingly thought about suggesting a large, outside sign which says:
We are not-so-ethnic anymore! All of us speak English in here! Free English literature about the Orthodox faith!
I know, I know....there are potentially dangerous things that can happen if you “push” people into Orthodoxy. Sadly, for many of our tiny and dwindling churches, it sometimes appears that there is just not much time left. Besides trying to live the Orthodox faith, which hopefully encourages others to want to visit and learn about Orthodoxy, I only have a few suggestions. Look on the list of parishioners that may still be living in the community and start calling them AND their children. Tell them that they are missed at your church. Have a picnic and personally invite them to come visit....like a family reunion. My church puts a tiny advertisement in the newspaper inviting others to visit. A few families visited us after reading this ad. A couple of Orthodox families from “the motherland” have found our church through this small advertisement and now attend. The priest’s answering machine and our church’s web site also explain exactly when services are held. I have tried to find info. about DL times from Orthodox churches when vacationing or at a conference and their web page is empty or outdated by years. This is really not conducive to increasing participants at DL.
I wish that someone with knowledge about the Antiochian Oklahoma City program to “promote Orthodoxy” would tell me about this program. I don’t want to criticize. I just want to learn. Is there a site where the statistics/$$ spent/program details/etc... are discussed so that the other jurisdictions could learn details about this program, not just see the program flyers?