There is no doubt that the Russian Orthodox Church is doing a great deal to spread the faith. Of course, that does not mean that Russia has now been transformed into a society of saints, but such a society has never existed. While certain polls exist regarding church attendance, the success of such missionary labors is found in the salvation of souls, and this is not something that can be captured by polls and quantifiable metrics.
While it is true that the building of churches alone is not a sufficient indicator of the Church’s efforts to spread the faith, neither can the building of churches be dismissed as irrelevant. While spreading the faith must certainly go beyond the building of churches, the building of such churches is nevertheless essential to the spreading of the faith.
Along with the building of churches, we have also witnessed the repopulation of numerous monasteries, we have heard of the labors of Orthodox missionaries in Russia, of those missionary priests who attach small chapels to boats and trailors and travel far and wide to minister to those in remote places, of the thousands of people who travel across the country to venerate miracle working icons and other relics, of Patriarch Kirill giving talks on the faith to stadiums full of youth answer diligently answering their questions, of the Patriarch’s sermons given at concerts and other unconventional venues, of his calls for the clergy to go out of their churches to meet and minister to people where they are, of his homilies and talks on the Orthodox faith that are broadcasted on public television, of the Church’s efforts to have courses on the Orthodox faith incorporated into the public school curricula, etc.
Again, one could always argue that more should be done, and one can always claim that people are not responding to these efforts as one would hope, but nevertheless it is clear that the Russian Orthodox Church is doing a lot to spread the faith. Before one criticizes such efforts, they should look to themselves and ask how much they are doing to spread the faith by comparison.
Below are a few quotes from various articles regarding this subject:
Patriarch Kirill on the mission of the church, and that building churches isn’t enough
The Orthodox Church has come around to the importance of missionary work in Russia in recent years. Zolotov says it is a trend that has been especially evident under the new patriarch, Kirill, who has led the church for less than a year.
“In the last several years, missionary work has been increasingly recognized as a top priority, or one of the top priorities," Zolotov says. "Basically, the election of Patriarch Kirill to a large extent was the manifestation of this recognition that we need to carry out a mission. It is not enough to just be reconstructing the church or sit there saying how important we are for Russian history.”
The missionary labors of the martyred priest Fr. Daniel Sysoev are described in detail here:http://www.pravmir.com/article_793.html
On the second anniversary of Patriarch Kirill’s enthronement, Fr. Vsevolod Chaplin stated:
"the Church life becomes really animated under the current Patriarch and all barriers which prevented proactive people from being involved in it are removed," he noted.
Patriarch Kirill calls for a “second Christianization” of Russia:
Moscow, November 16, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia urged believers to establish a consistent and efficient Church mission which will produce a revolution in the mind of Russian people.
"What is happening in the Church now may be called the "second Christianization." This country with a thousand years of Christian tradition, which gave birth to many saints and deserved the name of Holy Rus, has denied its historic heritage and ruined the tradition," the Patriarch said Tuesday at an opening ceremony of the Fourth All-Church Congress of Diocesan Missionaries in Moscow.
According to him, "a new generation has grown on the spiritual ruins of the Orthodoxy" and it's impossible today "to preach Christ just by appealing to the tradition and inherited memory, we need to make specific missionary efforts."
He emphasized that the Church's goal is to make an impact on people; this goal is comparable to the one pursued by the revolutionaries (with the opposite sign); the goal is to "restructure the Orthodox tradition."
"What huge resources were spent, what kind of organization was established! Today, we need even more powerful organization with a greater potential, challenge, courage and sacrifice," the Patriarch said.
Patriarch Kirril has organized mass gatherings in stadiums specifically to address the youth and respond to their questions:
MOSCOW, May 19 (RIA Novosti) - Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, will break new ground this month by attending mass gatherings with young people at sports arenas in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Church spokesman archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin told journalists on Tuesday that the patriarch would for the first time address thousands of young people and answer their questions, with events in Moscow on Saturday and in St. Petersburg on May 29.
Patriarch Kirill has also urged priests to reach out to society, especially to young people.
Speaking earlier this year during a visit to the Tula Region, south of Moscow, Patriarch Kirill said that if a priest merely "rings the bells, sits and waits for believers to arrive" then the Church will not meet people's demands, which he said included improving the moral climate in society, as well as reducing the number of divorces, abortions and crimes.
"The Lord said: 'Go ye therefore, and teach all nations.' He did not say: 'Sit there and wait until people arrive,'" he said. "I think today the main object of our efforts should be schools, education and youth."
The patriarch also said then that it was necessary to learn how to talk to young people correctly.
The Patriarch gave a sermon at a rock concert, which was followed by these words from Met Hilarion of Volokalamsk:
Today Church and society is in fact one and the same thing. Our church believers go to discos and rock-concerts, and if there’s a chance to give some church tinge to such youth meetings and punches, if young people are glad to hear a few words from a priest, why doesn’t he go there and say these few words?” Bishop Hilarion said on Friday at Interfax press conference.
“Model of such Patriarch will surely inspire bishops, priests and laymen. This missionary dimension of our church activity will be intensified thanks to His Holiness Kirill’s personality,” the bishop promised.
According to him, “every responsible church worker and priest should have inner feeling that will prompt him where he can go where better not.”
“When we speak about very notion of mission, we mean that we will go and preach, not that people will come to us. We mean that priests should come out from their churches, officials of church departments should step out of their organizations. We should go and meet people, even at the so-called youth hangouts even if it’s not usual to see a man in cassock there,” the Russian Church official said.
These are just a few examples, but they demonstrate Patriarch Kirill’s commitment to the strengthening of the faith of the Orthodox in Russia, and his labors in this direction.