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Victoria
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« on: May 13, 2011, 04:52:13 PM »

I'm rather bothered by complete lack of evangelization within OC. I always see Protestants trying to talk to other people about God/religion. Mind you, i'm not a supporter of standing on the street corner, handing out booklets and asking people if they have been "saved" or going door to door, a la Jehovah Witness. However, when it comes to OC, i don't see anyone reaching out to people outside their faith or church. I asked my priest about this and his answer was "all we should do is set an example to others and they will come". Ah, no, they won't because they have no idea what is OC, especially where i live. This is kind of like looking for that perfect man and instead of doing something about it, sitting home and expecting him to knock on your door. How is he going to find you if he has no idea who you are? Same with church. Noone i've met even had a clue what OC was, what their teachings were and where the local church was. Unless they are specifically looking up on internet a local OC church, noone will appear. I have been attending this church since last summer and now firmly convinced that OC is the right path for me. However, in all this time, there has been no new people that came in because they were intersted in Orchodox faith. In contrast, in my former Evangelical chuch(which i also attend here and there to keep peace in my marriage because my hubby is Evangelical), there has been at least 6 new members within the last 4-5 months. Why? Because they have seminars and events to attract the newcomers. Yes, it takes additional effort and money but it can be done. I feel like in my church people are not interested in attracting anyone else. Has anyone else felt the same way or had the same experience?
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« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2011, 04:59:41 PM »

Yes, I have wondered about this, and what can be done. We have had some discussions about how to better evangelize and grow parishes (such as this thread), and I know some parishes are more eager to reach out than others, and there are some groups in Orthodoxy devoted to missions and evangelism (e.g. the OCMC)... but it seems like Orthodoxy is content being "America's best kept secret". I don't know how it is in other countries...
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« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2011, 05:18:33 PM »

I guess we could always start doing travelling tent revivals.

Seriously though, the "sales tactics" (you create a need by telling them they're going to hell and then fill it by pressuring them into accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior) used by some "evangelists" here are not exactly designed to produce fruit over the course of one's life and really brong them to God. That alongside the fact that many people here are raised to outright reject what the Church teaches can make things difficult.

Another observation, most people know who Christ is, it's more a matter of getting people to follow Him and recognize the Church as a necessary part of doing that.
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« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2011, 05:55:03 PM »

I guess we could always start doing travelling tent revivals.

Seriously though, the "sales tactics" (you create a need by telling them they're going to hell and then fill it by pressuring them into accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior) used by some "evangelists" here are not exactly designed to produce fruit over the course of one's life and really brong them to God. That alongside the fact that many people here are raised to outright reject what the Church teaches can make things difficult.

Another observation, most people know who Christ is, it's more a matter of getting people to follow Him and recognize the Church as a necessary part of doing that.
that wasn't what i had in mind at all however, doing nothing is pretty bad in my opinion. I'm not really sure what is the best way to reach others though since i don't support Evangelical tactics in attracting new people
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« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2011, 06:14:51 PM »

i just thought of something else also-my church has a bible study every week however, its on Wednesday mornings at 10am. I believe our priest choose this time because its convinient for him but its unconvient for everyone else,  only 2-3 seniors can come because everyone works. I have attended when i was unemployed and i thought it was great way to attract newcomers if it was at a different time.
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« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2011, 06:25:24 PM »

I'm bothered by people who are not in the Church yet who try to tell the Church how she's got it all wrong. Things are much more than your perception of them. The Orthodox Church does do evangelism in many forms. It may not fit in with how you want it to be done, and there's always room to do more, but, seriously, come down from your mountain top and get a better view. Investigate the historical and present day missions. Oh yes, we have missionaries all over the world. There are many non-Orthodox who have seen a good example and have come to the Church. There is no one-size-fits-all evangelism in the Orthodox Church. There are some who do one thing, others who do another, depending both on their personal gifts and the blessing they have from spiritual authorities and the individual people they are trying to evangelize.
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« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2011, 06:43:07 PM »

I'm bothered by people who are not in the Church yet who try to tell the Church how she's got it all wrong. Things are much more than your perception of them. The Orthodox Church does do evangelism in many forms. It may not fit in with how you want it to be done, and there's always room to do more, but, seriously, come down from your mountain top and get a better view. Investigate the historical and present day missions. Oh yes, we have missionaries all over the world. There are many non-Orthodox who have seen a good example and have come to the Church. There is no one-size-fits-all evangelism in the Orthodox Church. There are some who do one thing, others who do another, depending both on their personal gifts and the blessing they have from spiritual authorities and the individual people they are trying to evangelize.
there are Orthodox missionaries in the world but comparing with Protestants its minute. My desire is not to tell people what's wrong with their church but to bring more people into the faith. What is wrong with that?(even though i'm not "officially" Orthodox yet). Perhaps you would care to tell me what "other forms of evangelization" you are talking about? Orchodox church does evangelization in many forms-um, which forms and where? I haven't seen any in my area and believe me when i tell you that i have been looking. I'm not talking about missions in some far off country but in America. And, I never said that evangelization has to be done “my way” so I don’t know what are you talking about
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« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2011, 06:56:05 PM »

But why are you, at this point, so terribly concerned with what others are/are not doing, when you have much to learn--and not what comes from books, but spiritually? Why do you want something proved to you? I'm sorry your expectations  are not being met, but perhaps your expectations not right? You want lots of people to come into the Church, but success is not determined in numbers, but in spiritual growth. Consider the environment, the available resources, how few the Orthodox are compared to everyone else, how we are not all of us ready to do evangelism in ways involving argument and preaching--not everyone should even be doing this. We have a lot to do before we can even get to your level of evangelism, whatever that is. So, before you criticize the Church, consider what that sounds like, and consider her position. The Protestants do a lot--they have lots of money, but they also have zeal that does not come from knowledge. Many lead people into worse states than they were previously through beliefs in heresies. The Orthodox will be judged severely for not doing what they can do, but you should not judge the Church for not doing more than what she can do. If you want to evangelize, do it. But one cannot give to others what one does not have himself. If I am not stable in my faith, if I do not have a soul that is "full," that has real, tested love for God, what use am I as an evangelist? If I do not keep the commandments of Christ, who would take me seriously if I tried to teach others? Orthodox evangelism is deeper than appearances and feelings. We're in it for the long haul, not to make momentary converts from spiritual highs. We already have a lot of converts who burn out and leave the Church because their conversion was in their head or their feelings, not their hearts. We focus on the heart. In a very real way, even Orthodox Christians themselves are still being evangelized.
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« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2011, 08:17:38 PM »

I'm rather bothered by complete lack of evangelization within OC. I always see Protestants trying to talk to other people about God/religion. Mind you, i'm not a supporter of standing on the street corner, handing out booklets and asking people if they have been "saved" or going door to door, a la Jehovah Witness. However, when it comes to OC, i don't see anyone reaching out to people outside their faith or church. I asked my priest about this and his answer was "all we should do is set an example to others and they will come". Ah, no, they won't because they have no idea what is OC, especially where i live. This is kind of like looking for that perfect man and instead of doing something about it, sitting home and expecting him to knock on your door. How is he going to find you if he has no idea who you are? Same with church. Noone i've met even had a clue what OC was, what their teachings were and where the local church was. Unless they are specifically looking up on internet a local OC church, noone will appear. I have been attending this church since last summer and now firmly convinced that OC is the right path for me. However, in all this time, there has been no new people that came in because they were intersted in Orchodox faith. In contrast, in my former Evangelical chuch(which i also attend here and there to keep peace in my marriage because my hubby is Evangelical), there has been at least 6 new members within the last 4-5 months. Why? Because they have seminars and events to attract the newcomers. Yes, it takes additional effort and money but it can be done. I feel like in my church people are not interested in attracting anyone else. Has anyone else felt the same way or had the same experience?
400 years of persecution under the Turks (1200 in Egypt and the Holy Land under the Arab Muslims and then the Turks), during which to convert someone essentially meant to sentence them to death, put the EO in "self defense mode". It was a fight for the Faith's survival, evangelism as we know it was difficult to impossible. EO evangelism is starting to pick up again, but the mentality of a heavily persecuted church beaten and battered over many centuries takes a while to recover its evangelistic zeal.

In a way, we can feel inspired, excited and blessed that we are able to be part of that recovery. But it ought to be done through mission churches and challenging conversations, out of a desire to make the Faith in the Church a home, and not just a rest stop as so many evangelical churches are.
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« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2011, 08:41:08 PM »

Anyone who wants to move to NC to help me with my mission work is more than welcome. Wink Here's one of my blogs about mission work:

http://easterncarolinaorthodox.wordpress.com
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« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2011, 08:45:42 PM »

Anyone who wants to move to NC to help me with my mission work is more than welcome. Wink Here's one of my blogs about mission work:

http://easterncarolinaorthodox.wordpress.com
If i wasn't married(because my h will never go for that)-i would love nothing more than to help you with this. Seriously.
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« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2011, 08:54:14 PM »

But why are you, at this point, so terribly concerned with what others are/are not doing, when you have much to learn--and not what comes from books, but spiritually? Why do you want something proved to you? I'm sorry your expectations  are not being met, but perhaps your expectations not right? You want lots of people to come into the Church, but success is not determined in numbers, but in spiritual growth. Consider the environment, the available resources, how few the Orthodox are compared to everyone else, how we are not all of us ready to do evangelism in ways involving argument and preaching--not everyone should even be doing this. We have a lot to do before we can even get to your level of evangelism, whatever that is. So, before you criticize the Church, consider what that sounds like, and consider her position. The Protestants do a lot--they have lots of money, but they also have zeal that does not come from knowledge. Many lead people into worse states than they were previously through beliefs in heresies. The Orthodox will be judged severely for not doing what they can do, but you should not judge the Church for not doing more than what she can do. If you want to evangelize, do it. But one cannot give to others what one does not have himself. If I am not stable in my faith, if I do not have a soul that is "full," that has real, tested love for God, what use am I as an evangelist? If I do not keep the commandments of Christ, who would take me seriously if I tried to teach others? Orthodox evangelism is deeper than appearances and feelings. We're in it for the long haul, not to make momentary converts from spiritual highs. We already have a lot of converts who burn out and leave the Church because their conversion was in their head or their feelings, not their hearts. We focus on the heart. In a very real way, even Orthodox Christians themselves are still being evangelized.
I think you are totally missing my point. No one has to “prove” anything to me and neither did I say that my “expectations” are not being met. I already knew great deal about OC before I even went to first liturgy since I born and raised in Ukraine. While I still have a great deal to learn, I have a great desire to help others to come to true church, and I assure you I never felt this way when I attended evangelical church. I’m firm in my faith and have no doubt that OC is the true Church of Christ. Why is this wrong of me to want to share that joy with others?
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« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2011, 08:55:05 PM »

I'm rather bothered by complete lack of evangelization within OC. I always see Protestants trying to talk to other people about God/religion. Mind you, i'm not a supporter of standing on the street corner, handing out booklets and asking people if they have been "saved" or going door to door, a la Jehovah Witness. However, when it comes to OC, i don't see anyone reaching out to people outside their faith or church. I asked my priest about this and his answer was "all we should do is set an example to others and they will come". Ah, no, they won't because they have no idea what is OC, especially where i live. This is kind of like looking for that perfect man and instead of doing something about it, sitting home and expecting him to knock on your door. How is he going to find you if he has no idea who you are? Same with church. Noone i've met even had a clue what OC was, what their teachings were and where the local church was. Unless they are specifically looking up on internet a local OC church, noone will appear. I have been attending this church since last summer and now firmly convinced that OC is the right path for me. However, in all this time, there has been no new people that came in because they were intersted in Orchodox faith. In contrast, in my former Evangelical chuch(which i also attend here and there to keep peace in my marriage because my hubby is Evangelical), there has been at least 6 new members within the last 4-5 months. Why? Because they have seminars and events to attract the newcomers. Yes, it takes additional effort and money but it can be done. I feel like in my church people are not interested in attracting anyone else. Has anyone else felt the same way or had the same experience?
400 years of persecution under the Turks (1200 in Egypt and the Holy Land under the Arab Muslims and then the Turks), during which to convert someone essentially meant to sentence them to death, put the EO in "self defense mode". It was a fight for the Faith's survival, evangelism as we know it was difficult to impossible. EO evangelism is starting to pick up again, but the mentality of a heavily persecuted church beaten and battered over many centuries takes a while to recover its evangelistic zeal.

In a way, we can feel inspired, excited and blessed that we are able to be part of that recovery. But it ought to be done through mission churches and challenging conversations, out of a desire to make the Faith in the Church a home, and not just a rest stop as so many evangelical churches are.
couldn't agree more
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« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2011, 09:03:39 PM »

Anyone who wants to move to NC to help me with my mission work is more than welcome. Wink Here's one of my blogs about mission work:

http://easterncarolinaorthodox.wordpress.com
If i wasn't married(because my h will never go for that)-i would love nothing more than to help you with this. Seriously.

Even though your churches are not in communion?  Undecided
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« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2011, 09:04:25 PM »

Anyone who wants to move to NC to help me with my mission work is more than welcome. Wink Here's one of my blogs about mission work:

http://easterncarolinaorthodox.wordpress.com
If i wasn't married(because my h will never go for that)-i would love nothing more than to help you with this. Seriously.

Smiley Thanks. In time, I know that God will send co-strugglers. We already have two people lined up to arrive here in 2 years or so, and I thank God for that.
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« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2011, 09:06:03 PM »

Truthfully, sometimes I look around the church and wonder how it'll be able to survive the next decade, when about 80% in attendance are over 60. But then I remember this website and all the videos on Youtube and the Orthodox student group on campus. The word is getting out, but Orthodoxy just doesn't operate on NYC time, and maybe it's for the best.

I think there is something to be said for the quest to find Christ's church. I spent about 15 years searching in vain. ...or so I thought. But once I found Orthodoxy, it was like, "Aha! I knew you existed!" And it was right under my nose that whole time. But those dark years were also part of the journey, and they make the reward that much sweeter.

I think it's important to be willing to talk about Orthodoxy with others. But one thing I love about this Church, and what makes it so different from all the others, is a profound trust in God. It seems to me that maybe part of the reason people aren't more concerned with evangelizing is because they aren't ruled by a fear that God will punish people in hell if we don't "save " them. We can show each other the way, but Orthodoxy is a lifestyle, and it's a really big commitment. Also, like Shanghaiski alluded to, evangelizing about Orthodoxy isn't just about explaining the technicalities of different doctrines. It's about living love every day. It's not easy, but sometimes the best way teach is by example.

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« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2011, 09:07:23 PM »

Anyone who wants to move to NC to help me with my mission work is more than welcome. Wink Here's one of my blogs about mission work:

http://easterncarolinaorthodox.wordpress.com
If i wasn't married(because my h will never go for that)-i would love nothing more than to help you with this. Seriously.

Even though your churches are not in communion?  Undecided

LOL. You're entitled to state your opinion, but sometimes it doesn't seem like you exercise propriety in judging when to do so.  It's not like she is signing up to come over here. She is expressing an appreciation for the fact that I am trying to convert people to Orthodoxy. Many people (including people in the Non-Chalcedonian Church that you identify with) say the same thing. That doesn't mean they would actually sign up and join, given that I am a Greek Old Calendarist and they are not. But I appreciate the sentiment and the theoretical support all the same.
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« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2011, 09:14:08 PM »

Anyone who wants to move to NC to help me with my mission work is more than welcome. Wink Here's one of my blogs about mission work:

http://easterncarolinaorthodox.wordpress.com
If i wasn't married(because my h will never go for that)-i would love nothing more than to help you with this. Seriously.

Even though your churches are not in communion?  Undecided

LOL. You're entitled to state your opinion, but sometimes it doesn't seem like you exercise propriety in judging when to do so.  It's not like she is signing up to come over here. She is expressing an appreciation for the fact that I am trying to convert people to Orthodoxy. Many people (including people in the Non-Chalcedonian Church that you identify with) say the same thing. That doesn't mean they would actually sign up and join, given that I am a Greek Old Calendarist and they are not. But I appreciate the sentiment and the theoretical support all the same.

I don't think that was the improper time to state that. It might have been taken the wrong way. There is nothing in what I said that suggested I was condemning her appreciation of this ministry. I was not doing that. And as a matter of fact, I myself am inclined to appreciate the evangelistic efforts of sound-minded (mostly Orthodox Christians) religious persons towards unbelievers. So if I knew some more about your ministry I bet I would have the same appreciation.

That is not the issue at hand, however. Victoria said that she would seriously love to join your ministry. I don't think that it would make sense for a mainstream EO person to join the evangelizing of an Old Calendarist EO. And perhaps Victoria wasn't really aware of the two of you being from two different denominations.
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« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2011, 09:28:55 PM »

Alright. I disagree with your interpretation of her comment "serious" given that she made it clear she would not be able to take me up on my offer (and just for the sake of clarity, I explain to people who show up at my parishes and missions that we are Old Calendarists; I don't try to play it off just to get more people), but that's fine, it's a matter of interpretation.
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« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2011, 09:30:04 PM »

For what it's worth, the parish I'll be attending this Sunday (and hopefully frequently) has - from what I'm told - about 80% converts, and for every one person that is brought in by members, there are like 5 that find there way on their own.  There are people that are coming from all over Yavapai County (a tad over 8,000 square miles) to the Church, I am told.  Clearly, there are a large number of people coming to Orthodoxy even without knowing any Orthodox before they get to a Church (myself included here).  Though, of course, this doesn't mean Orthodox shouldn't evangelize more.

Some things that, I think, are useful would be the following:

1.) Making sure that each and every parish has a fully functioning parish website, with information on the Orthodox Church, information on the priest(s), information on start times that is up to date, a calendar that is constantly updated, and accurate contact info;

2.) Ensuring the priest(s) and/or whomever else is permitted to, returns phone calls and answers e-mails quickly, at most a couple of days (especially with people who have never before had correspondance with the parish).  Preferably, the parish would also have a parish cell phone (if it can't afford a secretary) that could have volunteers taking it for a week at a time (with of course the priest taking it at least every couple of weeks, and of course making sure the volunteers are active in parish life), so that phones can be answered - no one likes an answering machine picking up every call they make.

3.) When some big news happens either for Orthodoxy as a whole, for Orthodoxy in the US, for Orthodoxy in your state, city, etc., or for your parish, (these can include visits from important or well known Orthodox people - such as authors, bishops, political leaders, whomever) you mention it in casual conversation with friends and co-workers, and hope it opens up a door to discussion of Orthodoxy;

4.) When there is any opportunity to talk about Orthodoxy (something like the recent 60 Minutes segment airs, your friend jokes how he could never be a priest because they can't marry, any opportunity in a conversation) you take it.  Don't be forceful, but casually mention how Orthodoxy differs from x religious issue mentioned, how your priest was just telling you about that, etc.
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« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2011, 09:48:15 PM »

Dear Victoria,

I do understand your surprise over what seems to be a lack of evangelization by Orthodox, particularly coming from an Evangelical Protestant background.  Many of us who came to the Orthodox Church from other backgrounds were almost overcome with amazement, joy, and wonder at discovering Orthodoxy and exploring the endless treasures and unfathomable depths of Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.  For many of us, particularly prior to and just after conversion, we wanted to tell everyone about Orthodoxy, particularly our non-Orthodox family members, and figured that everyone would be hungering for the true faith and would react with great excitement, interest, and amazement over what we would share with them about the Church.  However, for most of us, we found that people often simply do not care.  They are simply content with the religion that they have, regardless of its inadequacies or falsehoods; or they simply do not care about history, theology, etc.; or they just want to be left to believe whatever they want to believe; or they are turned off by the overzealousness or personal faults of the person telling them about the wonders of Orthodoxy.  The Lord instructs us to be careful where we cast our pearls, and many of us eventually learn that discernment is needed and that the Faith needs to be treasured by us and lived by us first of all, and then we should be willing to speak about the faith in humility if people seem open to such discussion. 

Orthodoxy is hard work, it is cross-bearing, martyrdom, etc., and is not simply a great big party to invite people to.  It is radically different than all pseudo-Christianities, and it demands everything of a person.  Whereas in Evangelicalism it is enough to get people in the door, or to “ask Christ into your heart” in order to be saved, salvation in the Orthodox Church comes through a process of complete repentance, of participating in the mysteries, and of self-denial.  In America, Evangelical Protestantism and Roman Catholicism are very dominant, and these groups use similar words as the Orthodox use but often with completely different meaning, and so it is sometimes much more difficult to communicate with non-Orthodox Christians than it would be to communicate with pagans about the faith.

These are some considerations that may be helpful to keep in mind.  Also, because Orthodoxy is financially poor and numerically small in America, even if there are lots of Orthodox sharing their faith with others, you are unlikely to be as aware of this as you would be of Protestants doing the same thing.  For Orthodox, we try to be humble and meek, and not showy.  Since Orthodoxy is about theosis and the transformation of one’s life in God, and not simply a matter of “believing” something, many of us do not broadcast our faith precisely because we are aware of our personal inadequacies and we do not want the holy Orthodox faith to be associated with sinful people such as us, for we are really not worthy to be part of the spotless body of Christ.  Nevertheless, as we try to humbly and simply live our faith, amazing opportunities come about for discussing our faith with others.  I have had many conversations about Orthodoxy with co-workers, family members, non-Orthodox friends, and complete strangers.  Many opportunities for talking about Orthodoxy come up throughout one’s life, at so we each have many opportunities to plant seeds.

As far as more formal evangelization efforts are concerned, I used to attend an Orthodox Church that had Tuesday evening vespers services followed by an Inquirer’s class, as well as a Thursday evening vespers followed by a Patristic Bible Study.  The priest of this parish was young and from Russia, and was very zealous.  When one student of an Evangelical Bible College in the area started coming to this parish, he slowly started bringing Protestant friends from school.  Many of them were eventually received into the Church and the priest was able to give several talks on Orthodoxy at the Bible college and start a Patristic Bible study there as well, which led to many other conversions.  This priest would also visit Russian Protestant churches in the area, would go in with his cassock and cross, and speak with the Russian people about the faith of their homeland, the faith of their fathers.  So, even in America, there may be many evangelistic efforts undertaken by Orthodox, but in a calm, humble, and perhaps largely unnoticed way.

For your encouragement, you may want to listen to the following podcast about the newly martyred priest Fr. Daniel Sysoev and his zealous missionary activity in post-Soviet Russia:

http://wwww.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/postcards/the_missionary_program_of_the_new_martyr_fr._daniel_sysoev

Ancient Faith Radio is, in general, specifically to help non-Orthodox learn more about the Faith:

http://wwww.ancientfaith.com/

There are many other stories that can be shared about mission work in the Orthodox Church, but I hope this information will be of some reassurance. 
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« Reply #21 on: May 14, 2011, 07:31:21 PM »

I was attracted to Orthodoxy partly because they were NOT standing on street corners preaching, banging on doors, etc. Perhaps we all need to be more visible to the community, serving food to the poor, maybe having a booth at events, etc. I do think we need to work harder to let people we know we are here, but in my humble opinion it is God who will bring them.
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« Reply #22 on: May 14, 2011, 10:50:43 PM »

hi, victoria,
i understand your concern, i also think we don't talk enough about our faith.
there is a website with great resources, forget the exact name but something like 'coptic evangelism', it's a north american group.
the ideas there are suitable for any orthodox church, but are more relevant to churches in developed countries.

it's true that we don't go for emotionalism and show, but i think we need to work harder on this area of spreading God's word.
may God guide you in your spiritual journey and give you patience, and may you always be enthusiastic to share His love  Smiley
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« Reply #23 on: May 14, 2011, 11:11:06 PM »

I think some Parishes don't do enough for evangelism, they have a greeter at the door and say during the service that guests are welcome to join after, and do nothing more.

Others do quite a bit more. While I came to the Church after my own search, I know others who did come due to evangelization. To a certain extent though this is not the duty of the Parish as a whole - although it does bare some responsibility - it is also an individual responsibility.
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« Reply #24 on: May 15, 2011, 05:56:34 AM »

What distinguishes a Mission from a Parish? Is it seen as a temporary 'structure' until it has sufficient members to form a parish, or until it can afford a permanent priest?

Or is it formed specifically with a view to attracting converts, rather than catering to those who are already Orthodox? If so, besides deliberately offering an open door and an accepting welcome, as well as advertising itself adequately, does it need continuity of clergy to ensure adequate catechesis of serious enquirers?

Or does it all depend on the jurisdiction?
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« Reply #25 on: May 15, 2011, 07:30:15 PM »

Although I have seen nothing official, it is known that the various Jurisdictions have given various counsel on when a preaching station becomes a mission, a mission a parish. I have heard numbers from mission to  parish being from 50 members to 50 families. One jurisdiction likes 100 family units to a parish. Basic rule seems to be that the mission become self sufficient, with adequate funds to support their pastor, and adequate lay leadership to assure the success of the parish.  Priests posting on the OC.net may be able to give specifics to their specific jurisdiction policies.

Thomas
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« Reply #26 on: May 15, 2011, 07:40:14 PM »

Although I have seen nothing official, it is known that the various Jurisdictions have given various counsel on when a preaching station becomes a mission, a mission a parish. I have heard numbers from mission to  parish being from 50 members to 50 families. One jurisdiction likes 100 family units to a parish. Basic rule seems to be that the mission become self sufficient, with adequate funds to support their pastor, and adequate lay leadership to assure the success of the parish.  Priests posting on the OC.net may be able to give specifics to their specific jurisdiction policies.

Thomas
My understanding is that, at least in the OCA, there is a distinction between a "mission", a "mission parish", and a "parish", with a mission becoming a mission parish after a set amount of time, then with membership requirements to become a parish.
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« Reply #27 on: May 16, 2011, 06:53:29 AM »

I learned of the Orthodox Church first through friends who converted, then through doing "internet research" (blogs, websites, etc.), then through reading books, listening to podcasts, etc.

I think the notion that "nothing is being done" ignores the world we live in today.  Perhaps nothing is being done where you are, and that may be reason to repent.  By the same token, I also don't think Orthodoxy naturally proselytizes, so sometimes "evangelical zeal" is taken as missing when in fact we just evangelize differently.  We write, we publish, we broadcast, etc.

But when it comes time to get someone to Church, we typically invite.  I've invited no small number of friends to visit our Church.  I know others do as well -- we had 2 visitors yesterday that someone invited.  Is this being done where you are?
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« Reply #28 on: May 16, 2011, 03:33:01 PM »

I learned of the Orthodox Church first through friends who converted, then through doing "internet research" (blogs, websites, etc.), then through reading books, listening to podcasts, etc.

I think the notion that "nothing is being done" ignores the world we live in today.  Perhaps nothing is being done where you are, and that may be reason to repent.  By the same token, I also don't think Orthodoxy naturally proselytizes, so sometimes "evangelical zeal" is taken as missing when in fact we just evangelize differently.  We write, we publish, we broadcast, etc.

But when it comes time to get someone to Church, we typically invite.  I've invited no small number of friends to visit our Church.  I know others do as well -- we had 2 visitors yesterday that someone invited.  Is this being done where you are?
Like i said, i don't know about other areas of US. However, where i am, there is only 2 OC churches. One Russian, and one Greek. Being from Ukraine i thought i would find more in common with Russian church but its a very tight cliquish like group and any newcomers are either ignored, or met with cold suspicion and not welcomed at all which is what happened to me. Noone is being invited there-priest was very nice but the rest of the people acted as if they couldn’t care to even say hello to you. I ended up attending Greek church because people were much more welcoming. Yet even there, not really anything is done to attract newcomers. I have seen several new people who were from out of town and just came to church because they were visiting and that’s it. I haven’t seen any newcomers at all in my church and it has been almost 8 months since I started attending
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« Reply #29 on: May 16, 2011, 03:58:28 PM »

once i had been a regular orthodox visitor for about a year, and realised i was onto something amazing, i had this really sad feeling, that someone could have told me about this earlier in my life.
i would have had much less unanswered questions and confusion.
so i agree with victoria that we are not the best at this.
but, victoria, it will take time. there are those churches that were so persecuted they adopted a 'siege' mentality and just expect all outsiders to be hostile, and there are those that have enjoyed the status of 'state' church and the complacent feeling of 'everyone is orthodox anyway'. so not everyone is keen to spread the message.

but if you keep on in your spiritual journey and never loose heart, God will use you to help churches reach the lost souls better, and your own soul will find rest.
 Smiley
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« Reply #30 on: May 23, 2011, 03:17:20 AM »

i don't see anyone reaching out to people outside their faith or church. I asked my priest about this and his answer was "all we should do is set an example to others and they will come".  

  I'm dealing with the same issues myselff.  I can't help but feel that answer you wre given is cowardly, more the result of centuries of religious repression and ethnic fears. I find it hard to really, within an Orthodox mindset, share the "good news" with anybody.  I am not into conversion as bashing somebody over the head with religious apologetics, but i've  delt with people who are hurting and in need of hope, stability... what does one say to them?  When i was attending Episcopalians/Anglicans, I had no problems talking about God loving them and trying to help them spiritually if it was appropriate.  Now i realize my thinking may be unduely constrained by trying to be Orthodox, and its got me to seriously re-evaluate my religious commitments.  

 I was dealing with an online friend who is a rape survivor, irreligious and agnostic, and in the past, expressed suicidal feelings to me, and later, a feeling of life being purposeless and feeling worthless.  I could listen to them and have talked about the Gospel as I understood it to them (I also encouraged them to seek mental healthcare which they did, aware that they had mental issues, not just spiritual issues), but realized in some ways, i still feel like i'm operating within an Episcopalian/Anglican view of things informed by that theology and tradition, and honestly the Orthodox idea of the Church would have trouble connecting them with Christ, esp. as Orthodox is rare in the country they live in, and entirely culturally alien.  So i am actually reconsidering my commitment to Orthodoxy, intellectually, even though my heart is still very much rooted in the piety and worship there, I feel the eclessiology I am hearing is wrong, it just feels wrong, maybe it because it makes the Church too tied to sacraments and mechanical apostolicity and pure doctrines, not enough to people who have faith (I would say when attending Episcopalian services I was mostly an Anglo-Catholic with liberal and evangelical leanings too, so my faith was centered on Jesus Christ but not in a way that would necessarily be exclusivist or parochial)
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« Reply #31 on: May 23, 2011, 03:39:23 AM »

I feel the eclessiology I am hearing is wrong, it just feels wrong, maybe it because it makes the Church too tied to sacraments and mechanical apostolicity and pure doctrines, not enough to people who have faith
In person or online?
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« Reply #32 on: May 23, 2011, 04:31:56 AM »

I think you are trying too hard to be Orthodox perhaps.

If Orthodoxy is not about Jesus Christ then there is something wrong, and if we are not preaching Christ then we are doing something wrong.

Certainly our faith is more comprehensive than that offered by a Protestant, but the Orthodox Gospel is Christ and life in Christ. The reason we participate in the sacraments is to be more completely united to Christ so that we are little-Christs in the world. Orthodoxy is not, essentially (but don't get me wrong), about icons, incense, chant, even doctrines etc etc. (Of course it is as well). But it is about Christ and union with Christ by the Holy Spirit.

When we are called to share our faith with others it should be a matter of sharing our life in Christ with others. Generally I do not find myself sharing my opinion about the Christological Controversies of the 5th/6th centuries, although this is of great importance to me. Rather I find myself talking simply about our spiritual tradition and how helpful I have found it, and about the goal of the Orthodox Christian life, union with God by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which is inspiring and transforming.

The nuts and bolts of Orthodoxy are important, but they are not generally important in evangelism. What matters there is usually that a person simply describes their own experience in growing closer to God and expresses this experience as something which can be experienced by the one being spoken with.

e.g. I know you were saying that you find it hard to pray regularly because you don't know what to say. I had the same problem myself, but I learned at my Orthodox Church that from the earliest years Christians used to have simple collections of prayers and psalms which helped them to establish a regular time with God. I thought it might be interesting for you to see the prayers I use regularly, and I've marked up a couple that you might want to pray in the morning and evening, you don't need to pray them all. Some of them are well known, like the Lord's Prayer, but others suit the time of the day. Why not give this a go and see if it helps.

Father Peter
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« Reply #33 on: May 23, 2011, 09:28:18 AM »

Christ is Risen!

I agree with Father Peter and others on the board in noting that Orthodoxy has many points that tug at the heartstrings of people who are looking for the genuine and true Church. Many, like myself, looked for Orthodoxy on their own or stumbled onto it and contected to the mystical aspects of the Orthodox Church that have been present with it since its founding by our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a very different mystical experience than we were led to hold by our family backgrounds, culture, and religous training. It is the filling of that mystical void that has brought many of us into the Church an keeps us enfolded in Christ's love. If that tug at your heart is still there , I can  tell you that even though you may not enter full communion with the church,you will still feel it and know that this very important aspect of personal relationship with God is not fed by other churches be they Protestant or  Roman Catholic.

One has to eventually decide, "Do I want the social fellowship I can find a ___ Church and be fed at the church pot luck?" or "Do I want to be in mystical fellowship of the Most Holy Trinity and be fed with the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?" This is the most likely scenario that you will have to face in determining your relationship with the Orthodox Church.

My prayers and love are with you as you enter this struggle!

Thomas
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« Reply #34 on: May 23, 2011, 02:29:35 PM »

Certainly our faith is more comprehensive than that offered by a Protestant, but the Orthodox Gospel is Christ and life in Christ. The reason we participate in the sacraments is to be more completely united to Christ so that we are little-Christs in the world. Orthodoxy is not, essentially (but don't get me wrong), about icons, incense, chant, even doctrines etc etc. (Of course it is as well). But it is about Christ and union with Christ by the Holy Spirit.

A GOA Bishop I know says that all these things are more like "tools" and less like "rules." The ultimate goal is as you say to become more completely united to Christ.

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« Reply #35 on: May 23, 2011, 03:36:27 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!


I'm rather bothered by complete lack of evangelization within OC. I always see Protestants trying to talk to other people about God/religion. Mind you, i'm not a supporter of standing on the street corner, handing out booklets and asking people if they have been "saved" or going door to door, a la Jehovah Witness. However, when it comes to OC, i don't see anyone reaching out to people outside their faith or church. I asked my priest about this and his answer was "all we should do is set an example to others and they will come". Ah, no, they won't because they have no idea what is OC, especially where i live. This is kind of like looking for that perfect man and instead of doing something about it, sitting home and expecting him to knock on your door. How is he going to find you if he has no idea who you are? Same with church. Noone i've met even had a clue what OC was, what their teachings were and where the local church was. Unless they are specifically looking up on internet a local OC church, noone will appear. I have been attending this church since last summer and now firmly convinced that OC is the right path for me. However, in all this time, there has been no new people that came in because they were intersted in Orchodox faith. In contrast, in my former Evangelical chuch(which i also attend here and there to keep peace in my marriage because my hubby is Evangelical), there has been at least 6 new members within the last 4-5 months. Why? Because they have seminars and events to attract the newcomers. Yes, it takes additional effort and money but it can be done. I feel like in my church people are not interested in attracting anyone else. Has anyone else felt the same way or had the same experience?

I think you misunderstand just how Orthodox evangelism operates.  Yes, we should be more acclimatizing and open for visitors and be a bit more public with our already existing evangelical tools such as our public Holiday celebrations or when we invite our friends, families, and co-workers to our weddings, baptisms, and funerals. However, please don't discredit the real evangelical efforts of Orthodox, which is that we Orthodox simply live, work, eat, go to school, are entertained, grieve, hope, pray, fast, sing, out in the everyday real world.  We do not need to be so broadcasting so much as if we are living our lives truly Orthodox, that Apostolic Christianity will emanate our from us.  It will reverberate and resonate within our friends, co-workers, neighbors, family and people on the street or at the market.  They will see and more important feel that there is something particularly different about us, and that difference is our Orthodox walk with God.  In this, God will do the labors through and with us as we are his witnesses day to day.

For me, at work folks have come to find I am Orthodox just in our usual biographical at the water-cooler kind of chit chat, and it has resonated with a lot of people.  In my neighborhood all the folks have come to meet me just from me strolling around all the time being friendly and neighborly polite.  At the market its the same as well.  Partly it is my rather auspicious cross, but mostly it is the way I carry myself that stands out to people.  Further I feel like if I was being forcefully evangelical rather then just living my witness and testimony of who I am in God and what God means to me (not insinuating ever what He does or doesn't mean to them) folks would perhaps be more turned off if anything.  The advantage to the more subtle Orthodox approach then is its inherent sincerity and authenticity rather then its  being ostentatious.

However I would fully agree that within particularly ethnic parishes like my own, that the Church needs to do its utmost and best to be inviting and facilitating to those visitors from our family, friends, and co-workers that come to our weddings, baptisms, and Liturgies.  The Church should do its best to remain fully grounded with the Tradition and yet make agreeable amendments particular in regards to languages for the people. Should the Church adjust the Divine Liturgy to this? Of course not! But could the Church make more readily available translations of prayers, Liturgies and readings, as well as making those who speak different languages a bit more visibly welcome and invited to various celebrations and services? That is a big yes Smiley



Just keep living Orthodox and trust me, they will indeed come knocking on your doors! Even the Mormons send me their new reacruits to my house all the time like I was the Prophet Jeremiah Wink

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #36 on: May 23, 2011, 05:08:21 PM »

i was going to say something, but father peter and thomas said it much better.
 Smiley
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« Reply #37 on: May 23, 2011, 07:47:14 PM »

I feel the eclessiology I am hearing is wrong, it just feels wrong, maybe it because it makes the Church too tied to sacraments and mechanical apostolicity and pure doctrines, not enough to people who have faith
In person or online?

  Both.    What I am getting at is that often times it feels useful to me to talk about things from a "Mere Christian" perspective (CS Lewis) rather than discussing finer points of "religion" with people, or Orthodox distinctives, who know little or nothing about Christianity.   Most often I'm not even evangelizing, just talking about how my belief in God means that I cannot agree with some belief they have doesn't reflect realit as I see it, and offering them an alternative vision of how things can work for them.  Sometimes I encourage people to read part of a gospel if they want to know more.
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« Reply #38 on: May 23, 2011, 09:22:01 PM »

Most often I'm not even evangelizing, just talking about how my belief in God means that I cannot agree with some belief they have doesn't reflect realit as I see it, and offering them an alternative vision of how things can work for them.  Sometimes I encourage people to read part of a gospel if they want to know more.
That is evangelizing, in a perfectly Orthodox way afaik.  Smiley
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« Reply #39 on: May 25, 2011, 05:06:33 AM »

yep.
keep it up!
 Smiley
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