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Justin Kissel
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« on: November 20, 2013, 08:40:39 PM »

When I was a Protestant there was a big emphasis on being "fishers of men," on being "on fire" and evangelistic, and bringing people to the faith.

"Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." - 1 Tim. 4:15-16

Most Orthodox seem to take a different approach. There are missions and evangelists, of course, but for the ordinary laymen-in-the-pew the emphasis seems to be more about working on your salvation, and then letting the light of Christ shine off you like a mirror.

"Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you thousands will be saved." - St. Seraphim of Sarov

How is this going for you? How many are becoming Orthodox because of this approach? I am not trying to make anyone feel guilty, nor am I trying to invite people to boast about accomplishments. It's just a practical question. We say if we lead a Christian life then it will be a witness. Fair enough. But is it working? Is it enough?

I am not advocating going door to door or becoming overbearing with this or that message. I'm asking: what is being done that works and is beneficial and good, what isn't working and could be improved, and what can be done that maybe people aren't doing? This is not to say that I am equating what works with what should be done. Something might work but be the wrong thing, and something might be the right thing but not overtly impact other people. Yet surely there are areas of overlap, where we could make improvements?

Also, do the examples we look to for how we evangelize (usually passively) come from situations similar to our own? Do we, and should we, expect the same approach to work in the place(s) we live? If we say that the Church is a "hospital for sinners," do we act and talk to others (not Orthodox) in ways that would be consistent with such language?
« Last Edit: November 21, 2013, 09:21:44 PM by Mor Ephrem » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2013, 10:12:57 PM »

"Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you thousands will be saved." - St. Seraphim of Sarov

How is this going for you? How many are becoming Orthodox because of this approach? I am not trying to make anyone feel guilty, nor am I trying to invite people to boast about accomplishments. It's just a practical question. We say if we lead a Christian life then it will be a witness. Fair enough. But is it working? Is it enough?

How do we quantify "success"?
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« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2013, 10:18:31 PM »

When I was a Protestant there was a big emphasis on being "fishers of men," on being "on fire" and evangelistic, and bringing people to the faith.

"Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." - 1 Tim. 4:15-16

Most Orthodox seem to take a different approach. There are missions and evangelists, of course, but for the ordinary laymen-in-the-pew the emphasis seems to be more about working on your salvation, and then letting the light of Christ shine off you like a mirror.

"Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you thousands will be saved." - St. Seraphim of Sarov

How is this going for you? How many are becoming Orthodox because of this approach? I am not trying to make anyone feel guilty, nor am I trying to invite people to boast about accomplishments. It's just a practical question. We say if we lead a Christian life then it will be a witness. Fair enough. But is it working? Is it enough?

I am not advocating going door to door or becoming overbearing with this or that message. I'm asking: what is being done that works and is beneficial and good, what isn't working and could be improved, and what can be done that maybe people aren't doing? This is not to say that I am equating what works with what should be done. Something might work but be the wrong thing, and something might be the right thing but not overtly impact other people. Yet surely there are areas of overlap, where we could make improvements?

Also, do the examples we look to for how we evangelize (usually passively) come from situations similar to our own? Do we, and should we, expect the same approach to work in the place(s) we live? If we say that the Church is a "hospital for sinners," do we act and talk to others (not Orthodox) in ways that would be consistent with such language?

I do most of the weekly Church cleaning. I work especially hard at it when I know there will be guests coming like for a Baptism or a lecture.

I dont want them to be put off by a dirty or unkept looking Church and I want them to think ' what a nice place '.

This is how I evangelize.

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« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2013, 10:26:27 PM »

Those of us who are church musicians carefully prepare music and rehearse so that the service will edify all and help us to pray and glorify God.

On some church tours, some Orthodox Christian parishes ask choir members to sing a sampling of Orthodox music. This glorious music has led some inquirers to ask the priest for instruction and has led to their reception.
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« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2013, 11:26:01 PM »

"Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you thousands will be saved." - St. Seraphim of Sarov

How is this going for you? How many are becoming Orthodox because of this approach? I am not trying to make anyone feel guilty, nor am I trying to invite people to boast about accomplishments. It's just a practical question. We say if we lead a Christian life then it will be a witness. Fair enough. But is it working? Is it enough?

How do we quantify "success"?

At least for my part, I don't intend to narrowly define things. I guess the thread is just about positively impacting others because of (or through) your faith and "life in Christ." Though in particular I'm curious about things we do to move people closer to ... whatever. Orthodoxy? Closer relationship with God? More aware of things spiritual and religious? ... If we say that we have the "medicine of immortality" and stuff like that, in what ways do we try to share that with others? In what ways are we "light" and "salt"?

EDIT--To add, I'm not sure how this could be judged quantified without trying to count numbers. "Oh I converted 4 of my family" or something. That's one way, but not necessarily all of what I'm asking about. I guess the thread is meant to be more about discussion and improving and logistics and (so to speak) tactics, and not as much about "I gave X a book and they're a catechumen now, I talked to Y and she converted, etc."  Though that's fine as well.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2013, 11:37:51 PM by Asteriktos » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2013, 11:33:06 PM »

A few people have asked me about services. Some have even come to them. They have not become Orthodox, nor do I think will they become Orthodox, barring a miracle. All I can do is be helpful to those who are receptive.
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« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2013, 12:30:24 AM »

If people's eternal fate depends on their response to the Gospel, you would think the ends would justify the means when it comes to evangelism.

And you evangelize by sweeping the church floor? What a joke!

And you have to use words. Acquiring a spirit of peace just doesn't cut it. There are some actions that do speak louder than words, but Christians have a reputation for being against them.
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« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2013, 02:15:36 AM »



And you evangelize by sweeping the church floor? What a joke!

And you have to use words.

Words can be used for many things.

I hope the non Christians will not read your post. An atheist friend of mine told me he used to read on Christian forums and how it turned him off to see how we talked to each other.

A beautiful temple is indeed a witness, your rudeness is not though!
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« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2013, 12:59:16 PM »

How is this going for you? How many are becoming Orthodox because of this approach? I am not trying to make anyone feel guilty, nor am I trying to invite people to boast about accomplishments. It's just a practical question. We say if we lead a Christian life then it will be a witness. Fair enough. But is it working? Is it enough?

I've seen FAAAR more people become interested in Orthodoxy than I did when I was evangelical. Most of it, admittedly, has been on the internet, but the stories still involve real people and real conversions. It's mostly centered in a small subgroup for people interested in Orthodoxy (the subgroup is "parented" by a large general, multi-faith/no-faith discussion forum for homeschoolers).  It used to be that most of the interest was shown (to me) when I'd make pointed statements about Orthodoxy on the main board, usually in a thread where someone asked something about faith.  Now, as I try to back off more, because goodness knows I know pretty much next to nothing and have so far to go in my own conversion, I seem to get more PM's saying something like "I really appreciate how you respond to people," often commenting on and asking about my faith. On this small subgroup, we are often telling people to "go to church" and "ask your priest," encouraging them to not look to us or the internet for inquiring and developing their faith.  

If I had to guestimate numbers, I'd say I (personally) led maybe three people to Christ during the 23 years I was evangelical. But there's an asterisk by all three -- with one I just sat in on a gospel presentation that someone else was doing with an interested guy, one was a five year old boy during vacation bible school, and one was a drug addict at an inner-city church (who was probably high when I was talking with him).  I pray those folks are still on the road to God.  On the other hand, through this homeschool group, I'd say 35+ families have been started on the journey to Orthodoxy church in the past four years. I have very little to do with them doing so, beyond starting this subgroup where they could hear more in a more private setting than the general board.  I'm so thankful on their behalf (is that worded correctly?) -- thankful that they have now experienced God's living faith through His Church.  
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« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2013, 02:04:15 PM »

From my pov, working on your own salvation is definitely a must before you can hope to literally help others with their salvation. To help the world is really simple (help the poor, the sick, ...) and only requires a good heart, but few self-proclaimed Christians do it. One of the impediments is religion itself, the religion they practice. Even Orthodox can be proud (if not the proudest of all) and get into the mindset that they are the only ark of salvation and start separating from the rest of the world or even accusing it of sin. This is a sin. It is actually a kind of schism and affects both those in The Church and those not yet in it. But, what can you do, we are all sinners in our own way. That's what I mean: don't get your hopes too high thinking you are going to be a powerful evangelizer if you can't figure out the simpler things in life and help your neighbor simply because you love him. I mean you definitely have to heal first, unless you want to infect others as well. So, there are ways you can always help the world, and you can even evagelize, but you must know the level that you are at and be humble in general, or else your evengelism is fruitless or even detrimental.
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« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2013, 03:08:37 PM »

Right now I am working toward my personal salvation in Christ, different groups (Evangelical,Protestant,Catholic etc) have different methods and beliefs.

My reason for becoming Orthodox was because I knew that mature faith would need and somewhere to call home.



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« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2013, 06:05:04 PM »


This is a great topic!

I would like to know what works.

I don't know....but, I do not think that I've been able to convince anyone to convert!  Smiley  God knows I have tried.

However, what I DO try....is to preserve the Faith in those who are already Orthodox.  Too many of our kids don't know anything about the Faith, and as they grow up they fall away from the Church.

My goal is to teach them all about their Faith, so they know it, are excited about it, love it, and cannot fathom living without it.  ...so, when they go off to college, they take Christ with them.  When they build their careers, they take Christ with them "up the ladder"....and when they settle down and start their families, Christ will be in the middle of that family.

That's all I can do.  May God help me....and all of us.

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« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2013, 06:13:15 PM »

Inviting your friends or colleagues to join you in Church services etc. if they show any interest is something everyone can do.
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« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2013, 06:17:07 PM »


I have never....in my entire life....had anyone express an interest in joining me in church.

We even have a "bring your friend to church day"....but, alas....
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« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2013, 06:27:20 PM »

I hope you are not saying that to "Become Orthodox" I had to act like you,think like you, and agree with you.
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« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2013, 06:33:48 PM »

I hope you are not saying that to "Become Orthodox" I had to act like you,think like you, and agree with you.

Who is your question aimed at?
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« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2013, 06:38:41 PM »

How is this going for you? How many are becoming Orthodox because of this approach? I am not trying to make anyone feel guilty, nor am I trying to invite people to boast about accomplishments. It's just a practical question. We say if we lead a Christian life then it will be a witness. Fair enough. But is it working? Is it enough?

I've seen FAAAR more people become interested in Orthodoxy than I did when I was evangelical. Most of it, admittedly, has been on the internet, but the stories still involve real people and real conversions. It's mostly centered in a small subgroup for people interested in Orthodoxy (the subgroup is "parented" by a large general, multi-faith/no-faith discussion forum for homeschoolers).  It used to be that most of the interest was shown (to me) when I'd make pointed statements about Orthodoxy on the main board, usually in a thread where someone asked something about faith.  Now, as I try to back off more, because goodness knows I know pretty much next to nothing and have so far to go in my own conversion, I seem to get more PM's saying something like "I really appreciate how you respond to people," often commenting on and asking about my faith. On this small subgroup, we are often telling people to "go to church" and "ask your priest," encouraging them to not look to us or the internet for inquiring and developing their faith.  

If I had to guestimate numbers, I'd say I (personally) led maybe three people to Christ during the 23 years I was evangelical. But there's an asterisk by all three -- with one I just sat in on a gospel presentation that someone else was doing with an interested guy, one was a five year old boy during vacation bible school, and one was a drug addict at an inner-city church (who was probably high when I was talking with him).  I pray those folks are still on the road to God.  On the other hand, through this homeschool group, I'd say 35+ families have been started on the journey to Orthodoxy church in the past four years. I have very little to do with them doing so, beyond starting this subgroup where they could hear more in a more private setting than the general board.  I'm so thankful on their behalf (is that worded correctly?) -- thankful that they have now experienced God's living faith through His Church.  

I agree with you.

Although I have encouraged others in real life to look into Orthodoxy, most people have already made their commitment to their brand of "Christianity," and they are not looking for the "original" Church because they think that it has fallen away in apostasy just like their [fill in the blank] Bible notes said.

People have also sent me Private Messages here and at other forums thanking me for clarifying a point or two, and some have even written that they have been baptized or chrismated into Holy Orthodoxy due in large part to our collective good Orthodox witness. However, I shutter to think about some of the posts I have written. We must guard our thoughts and watch what we post here.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2013, 06:39:37 PM by Maria » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2013, 06:44:03 PM »


This is a great topic!

I would like to know what works.

I don't know....but, I do not think that I've been able to convince anyone to convert!  Smiley  God knows I have tried.

However, what I DO try....is to preserve the Faith in those who are already Orthodox.  Too many of our kids don't know anything about the Faith, and as they grow up they fall away from the Church.

My goal is to teach them all about their Faith, so they know it, are excited about it, love it, and cannot fathom living without it.  ...so, when they go off to college, they take Christ with them.  When they build their careers, they take Christ with them "up the ladder"....and when they settle down and start their families, Christ will be in the middle of that family.

That's all I can do.  May God help me....and all of us.



That is all we can do.

Pray, be good examples, encourage the downtrodden to persevere, give food to the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned and the infirm, and pray for all those who ask our prayers. And most importantly, be willing to ask forgiveness and forgive those who have offended us. Sometimes the act of forgiving someone in a true spirit of Christian love, and humbly asking for forgiveness does more to evangelize than anything else we could do.
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« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2013, 06:59:48 PM »

I just spent a couple of months with my family back home in California.  My sister is Agnostic, my mother is a practicing RC with lot of doubts - and always has had these doubts.  They know that I am Orthodox.  They know that I am a practicing Christian in whatever way I am capable . . .and they know that I fall flat on my face and when I do, more often than not, I'm right in there with the pigs wallowing in the mud.

I did not preach my faith while I was there. . . I lived it.  If they asked me a question, I'd answer.  More often than not the questions were about how I treat the poor. . .discussing how they treat the poor and what is important to them. . .  - what is important to me in my life here in this world. . . why am I satisfied with my job, etc. 

When I got home, my sister called me and told me that I'm beautiful.  She said she'd never known someone that was the same no matter who I talked to - or related to. . . that even though the house was angry and chaotic before I came, it calmed right down the minute I walked in the door.  (Her words, not mine) She said she could tell that there was something really very special about me.  She said that she could see that there IS a God when she watched me these past months.  Her last words . . . "I see when I look at who you are, there HAS to be a God."  were priceless to me. 

When I think about all the trial and emotional pain in the last few months for everyone  . . . I can't help but think that Our Lord was right there . . .and that was enough. Whether it was through me, or through others that cared for my family during that time. . .He cares for us. . .all of us. . .and He was right there with them, every step of the way. 

There is something about letting go and letting God.  He knows the absolute right thing to say and do at the exact perfect time.  Me?  I know nada.  I couldn't tell you what will happen in the next five minutes to save my soul.  I don't want to presume to think what my sister or mother needs. . . or my brothers or my other sister . . .or my husband.  He knows.  I don't.  Living His Word is much much better than speaking and thinking I know what I'm talking about.  I don't. 

I think there might be a time to speak up. . . but I'm hesitant to do so without A LOT of prayer and fasting and humbling myself.  I remember from my past that it was easy to say, "I brought someone to the Lord."  and take all the credit.  Now?  I can't say jack, because I'm not the one who's doing it, He is.
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« Reply #19 on: November 21, 2013, 07:02:35 PM »

I just spent a couple of months with my family back home in California.  My sister is Agnostic, my mother is a practicing RC with lot of doubts - and always has had these doubts.  They know that I am Orthodox.  They know that I am a practicing Christian in whatever way I am capable . . .and they know that I fall flat on my face and when I do, more often than not, I'm right in there with the pigs wallowing in the mud.

I did not preach my faith while I was there. . . I lived it.  If they asked me a question, I'd answer.  More often than not the questions were about how I treat the poor. . .discussing how they treat the poor and what is important to them. . .  - what is important to me in my life here in this world. . . why am I satisfied with my job, etc. 

When I got home, my sister called me and told me that I'm beautiful.  She said she'd never known someone that was the same no matter who I talked to - or related to. . . that even though the house was angry and chaotic before I came, it calmed right down the minute I walked in the door.  (Her words, not mine) She said she could tell that there was something really very special about me.  She said that she could see that there IS a God when she watched me these past months.  Her last words . . . "I see when I look at who you are, there HAS to be a God."  were priceless to me. 

When I think about all the trial and emotional pain in the last few months for everyone  . . . I can't help but think that Our Lord was right there . . .and that was enough. Whether it was through me, or through others that cared for my family during that time. . .He cares for us. . .all of us. . .and He was right there with them, every step of the way. 

There is something about letting go and letting God.  He knows the absolute right thing to say and do at the exact perfect time.  Me?  I know nada.  I couldn't tell you what will happen in the next five minutes to save my soul.  I don't want to presume to think what my sister or mother needs. . . or my brothers or my other sister . . .or my husband.  He knows.  I don't.  Living His Word is much much better than speaking and thinking I know what I'm talking about.  I don't. 

I think there might be a time to speak up. . . but I'm hesitant to do so without A LOT of prayer and fasting and humbling myself.  I remember from my past that it was easy to say, "I brought someone to the Lord."  and take all the credit.  Now?  I can't say jack, because I'm not the one who's doing it, He is.


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« Reply #20 on: November 21, 2013, 08:17:09 PM »

I hope you are not saying that to "Become Orthodox" I had to act like you,think like you, and agree with you.

Who is your question aimed at?

Everybody on the forum who participates in congregational worship. (The correct = orthodox worship of the Church) ..
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« Reply #21 on: November 21, 2013, 08:20:43 PM »

If people's eternal fate depends on their response to the Gospel....
...and what is "the Gospel"?
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« Reply #22 on: November 22, 2013, 08:03:07 PM »

If people's eternal fate depends on their response to the Gospel....
...and what is "the Gospel"?

I think there's a few different ways of defining it. It is what Jesus preached. Or it is what St. Paul preached about Jesus. Or something else.

But what does it matter? If it is all-important, why would anyone take such a passive approach to spreading the message?
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« Reply #23 on: November 24, 2013, 11:04:23 AM »

If people's eternal fate depends on their response to the Gospel, you would think the ends would justify the means when it comes to evangelism.

And you evangelize by sweeping the church floor? What a joke!

And you have to use words. Acquiring a spirit of peace just doesn't cut it. There are some actions that do speak louder than words, but Christians have a reputation for being against them.

I certainly don't think that is a joke.   I think that fulfilling the roles that God places us in can bear great fruit.

Its easy to get in impatient about evangelization when the world seems to be flying off the rails, but that is always how it's been.   

I think quietmorning said it best.   I don't see how us imitating the Protestants or even the Latins will get the result that we intend.
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« Reply #24 on: November 25, 2013, 01:38:13 AM »

If people's eternal fate depends on their response to the Gospel, you would think the ends would justify the means when it comes to evangelism.

And you evangelize by sweeping the church floor? What a joke!

And you have to use words. Acquiring a spirit of peace just doesn't cut it. There are some actions that do speak louder than words, but Christians have a reputation for being against them.

I certainly don't think that is a joke.   I think that fulfilling the roles that God places us in can bear great fruit.

Its easy to get in impatient about evangelization when the world seems to be flying off the rails, but that is always how it's been.   

I think quietmorning said it best.   I don't see how us imitating the Protestants or even the Latins will get the result that we intend.

I suppose the methods depend on what those results we intend might be.

What would people here say the goal of Orthodox Christian evangelism ought to be?
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« Reply #25 on: November 25, 2013, 04:17:25 AM »


What would people here say the goal of Orthodox Christian evangelism ought to be?


And that's the crux of the matter, isn't it?

I've witnessed different behavior and heard very different opinions from clergy I deeply respect.  Some willing to engage (tactfully) anyone, and others more resigned that most will never become Orthodox (referring less to individuals who may show interest than to broader evangelism). The latter perspective may sound apathetic or hinting at predestination for some to be Orthodox and others not, but the primary priest I've spoken to about that topic indicated--in more compelling language than I will use--that we have to follow the Holy Spirit's lead, not outpace him.

I honestly don't know the answer to your question.  It's obviously not part of Church teaching that everyone becomes Orthodox, but who do we write off then?  Aside from some interesting missionary work, it seems a focus is on redirecting other Christians or aiming for low lying fruit, e.g. the disaffected person here or there, rather than large-scale targeting.  Maybe decisions, such as those that avoid trying to convert adherents of other religions, are driven by pragmatic expediency, or perhaps something else.  Is there an existing spiritual barrier, on top of legal and/or cultural obstacles preventing us?
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« Reply #26 on: November 25, 2013, 09:42:33 AM »

For someone who wants to become Orthodox, the process is difficult. It's not just a matter of saying a few words and experiencing some feelings, it's about a real transformation of life. I've been Orthodox for over 12 years, and I'm still trying to become Orthodox.
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« Reply #27 on: November 26, 2013, 04:29:18 AM »

If people's eternal fate depends on their response to the Gospel, you would think the ends would justify the means when it comes to evangelism.

And you evangelize by sweeping the church floor? What a joke!

And you have to use words. Acquiring a spirit of peace just doesn't cut it. There are some actions that do speak louder than words, but Christians have a reputation for being against them.

I certainly don't think that is a joke.   I think that fulfilling the roles that God places us in can bear great fruit.

Its easy to get in impatient about evangelization when the world seems to be flying off the rails, but that is always how it's been.   

I think quietmorning said it best.   I don't see how us imitating the Protestants or even the Latins will get the result that we intend.

I suppose the methods depend on what those results we intend might be.

What would people here say the goal of Orthodox Christian evangelism ought to be?

Cognomen gave a good answer.

It is a tough question,  one that evades a slick solution.   If only it were as easy as flooding a neighborhood with pamphlets or internet ministries.   I am not denigrating those efforts at all,  but I think here is where we can learn from the mistakes and challenges that the Protestants and Latins are having.

The aforementioned methods have been exhausted by Western Christians, a drum beat that has become a background noise many people ignore.

Perhaps the most revolutionary and radical way to evangelize is to just do what we are doing now.    I think with the fast pace and sheer flood of information and nonsense that comes at us,  the quiet approach may just be what is needed.   Maybe.

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« Reply #28 on: November 26, 2013, 09:21:43 AM »

Hierarchy negligence & lay ignorance permeate Orthodoxy (at least in America & presumably in the "sacred', "Orthodox"  homelands also). Handfuls of laity & priests transcend the stagnation & form organizations like OCMC, IOCC, FOCUS N.A. etc. & those of us who can, must give our prayer & financial support to these. Otherwise the situation is like Ecclesiastes most (not all) "is vanity" & we must fear God & keep His commandments.
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« Reply #29 on: November 26, 2013, 10:08:27 AM »

Hierarchy negligence & lay ignorance permeate Orthodoxy (at least in America & presumably in the "sacred', "Orthodox"  homelands also). Handfuls of laity & priests transcend the stagnation & form organizations like OCMC, IOCC, FOCUS N.A. etc. & those of us who can, must give our prayer & financial support to these. Otherwise the situation is like Ecclesiastes most (not all) "is vanity" & we must fear God & keep His commandments.

That is quite the sweeping statement.   How much of World Orthodoxy have you experienced or observed to come to such a conclusion?

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« Reply #30 on: November 26, 2013, 12:15:56 PM »

Reponse to Misplace d Book # 29: (quote function software problem):

Orthodoxy has been in my hometown in America for over 100 years & is now statistically irrelevant (Catholics & "mainline" Protestants are declining too). Besides ethnic food festivals there is no other faith presence or articulation to the community (my father was cradle Syrian Orthodox so I mean no prejudice). There has been no old world type of oppression here. Yes, perhaps everyone is faithful & godly compared to my wretched self. Yet, when I have asked about the future, people seem dumbfounded. I have mentioned that a Buddhist monk can speak in the local area & draw attendance ( I know one myself) but what about an Orthodox someone &  the response is like deer in the headlights.

Hierarchal rhetoric has called us to evangelize but without specifics & who has understood what to do? I want to be careful what I say in my cynicism, I am not referring to any individual "meanies" & try to understand others as my spiritual superiors.

On a world level, I believe if it was not for organizations like I mentioned, there would be no Orthodox evangelization like in Tanzania, Indonesia etc. for ex. (praise God for that!).

On a historical level, I think a lack of hierarchal wisdom has often contributed to extreme tragedies. In late 19thc. & ealry 20th c. Russia for ex. Rasputin did more to try to prevent Russian entry to war than anyone else. Fr. Grigori Gapon left the faith when witnessing the massacres of a  peaceful assembly he personally managed on bloody Sunday in 1905 (the seeds of revolution were firmly planted), Fr..Pavel Florenskly is discarded even though he personally confronted Trotsky in a cassock after the 1917 red coup. During this era, though, the church sent a bishop with a Tsarist naval contingent to quell some fanatical Russian monks on Athos on the eve of WW I over some centering type of prayer controversy.
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« Reply #31 on: November 26, 2013, 01:48:47 PM »

Reponse to Misplace d Book # 29: (quote function software problem):

Orthodoxy has been in my hometown in America for over 100 years & is now statistically irrelevant (Catholics & "mainline" Protestants are declining too). Besides ethnic food festivals there is no other faith presence or articulation to the community (my father was cradle Syrian Orthodox so I mean no prejudice). There has been no old world type of oppression here. Yes, perhaps everyone is faithful & godly compared to my wretched self. Yet, when I have asked about the future, people seem dumbfounded. I have mentioned that a Buddhist monk can speak in the local area & draw attendance ( I know one myself) but what about an Orthodox someone &  the response is like deer in the headlights.

Hierarchal rhetoric has called us to evangelize but without specifics & who has understood what to do? I want to be careful what I say in my cynicism, I am not referring to any individual "meanies" & try to understand others as my spiritual superiors.

On a world level, I believe if it was not for organizations like I mentioned, there would be no Orthodox evangelization like in Tanzania, Indonesia etc. for ex. (praise God for that!).

On a historical level, I think a lack of hierarchal wisdom has often contributed to extreme tragedies. In late 19thc. & ealry 20th c. Russia for ex. Rasputin did more to try to prevent Russian entry to war than anyone else. Fr. Grigori Gapon left the faith when witnessing the massacres of a  peaceful assembly he personally managed on bloody Sunday in 1905 (the seeds of revolution were firmly planted), Fr..Pavel Florenskly is discarded even though he personally confronted Trotsky in a cassock after the 1917 red coup. During this era, though, the church sent a bishop with a Tsarist naval contingent to quell some fanatical Russian monks on Athos on the eve of WW I over some centering type of prayer controversy.

I agree, especially with the bolded part. Even the minority of Orthodox who care about evangelism seem totally at a loss when it comes to concrete action.
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« Reply #32 on: November 27, 2013, 01:53:40 AM »

Reponse to Misplace d Book # 29: (quote function software problem):

Orthodoxy has been in my hometown in America for over 100 years & is now statistically irrelevant (Catholics & "mainline" Protestants are declining too). Besides ethnic food festivals there is no other faith presence or articulation to the community (my father was cradle Syrian Orthodox so I mean no prejudice). There has been no old world type of oppression here. Yes, perhaps everyone is faithful & godly compared to my wretched self. Yet, when I have asked about the future, people seem dumbfounded. I have mentioned that a Buddhist monk can speak in the local area & draw attendance ( I know one myself) but what about an Orthodox someone &  the response is like deer in the headlights.

Hierarchal rhetoric has called us to evangelize but without specifics & who has understood what to do? I want to be careful what I say in my cynicism, I am not referring to any individual "meanies" & try to understand others as my spiritual superiors.

On a world level, I believe if it was not for organizations like I mentioned, there would be no Orthodox evangelization like in Tanzania, Indonesia etc. for ex. (praise God for that!).

On a historical level, I think a lack of hierarchal wisdom has often contributed to extreme tragedies. In late 19thc. & ealry 20th c. Russia for ex. Rasputin did more to try to prevent Russian entry to war than anyone else. Fr. Grigori Gapon left the faith when witnessing the massacres of a  peaceful assembly he personally managed on bloody Sunday in 1905 (the seeds of revolution were firmly planted), Fr..Pavel Florenskly is discarded even though he personally confronted Trotsky in a cassock after the 1917 red coup. During this era, though, the church sent a bishop with a Tsarist naval contingent to quell some fanatical Russian monks on Athos on the eve of WW I over some centering type of prayer controversy.


I would caution against playing the numbers game.  Latin Polemicists like to use "numbers" as a cudgel to beat us over the head with, implying that because we don't have the crowds they have, that we are not the True Church.  Does the Buddhist Monk preach Christ?  Does he possess the truth?   He can get the numbers because he isn't Christian.  Buddhism is quite popular among Western "Spiritual" Seekers, and appeals to the attraction to the exotic.   Does that mean it is true?

I understand your concerns about "marketing."   The fact is,  how can we get that "mass appeal" without surrendering who we are?  I think we can't.   There is no one size fits all way to do it, and I think that each community and each individual Orthodox person has to follow the spirit as to how best to approach it.  Why should the Bishops tell us what to do?  We as the laity live in the world and are the average Joe/Jane's first exposure to Orthodoxy.  The responsibility is on us to make those connections, one water cooler at a time.

Orthodox Missions as you know predate those organizations you mentioned.  There are many great things happening, in Asia and Africa.

Bad Bishops are an old story, one that unfortunately continues to be repeated.   As long as we all are sinners, this will be true.   

What action would you have them take?
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« Reply #33 on: November 27, 2013, 02:39:42 AM »

What would people here say the goal of Orthodox Christian evangelism ought to be?

For myself; it's about putting people in a place where they can make the best possible decisions and ... live life. That often means simply giving them information and trying to help in whatever ways other than that that come up. Being of limited practical skills, spiritual gifts, and financial resources, info is usually what I can do the most with, if I am thinking along those lines. The problem is, I don't think that will work. I will never come into contact, let alone have an impact on, more than a drop out of the ocean of people. So I am increasingly not thinking along those lines I mentioned (there are other reasons for it, but that's another discussion).

I'm trying to get out of the mindset of talking to "people" generally and instead just having some worth, somehow, to an individual person. And then maybe another. And another. But I can't move on to another until I see the first. And it's not even evangelism. ialmisry could easily say to me: "evangelist, evangelize thyself" if I were trying to do that. If I see suffering or struggling, and I have a way to help, then I help. Sometimes that's overt. Sometimes it's only apparent to the one I am helping, and only for a few moments perhaps. At one point a few months ago I was quite depressed, and my therapist suggested that I keep a journal, and at the end of each day write down positive things I had done that day. For myself, or for others. I never did it, but interestingly my entire mindset has come around to that, despite not writing any of it down.

This is evangelism of the "feed the hungry, clothe the naked" kind. At least what I can do. Do I mention Orthodoxy? Yes. I had a girlfriend earlier this year who identified as pagan. She knew I posted on this forum, she knew I was interested in Orthodoxy, and we sometimes spoke briefly about such things. Did I convert her? I guess that depends. I really don't know. Did she become Orthodox? So far as I know she doesn't care one bit about Orthodoxy. Did I help her, though? Does conversion means turning from one way to another, or getting along better spiritually, or making a positive change when it comes to trust or love or whatever? Does conversion sometimes just mean not thinking that life is crap and everyone uses everyone else? Then maybe I did help, I don't know.

Is that the goal of Orthodox evangelism? I'd love to see people become Orthodox. Even when I've been outside Christianity completely I wanted that, or at least going towards traditional Christianity in general. But what I do is... well I don't go about things with that as the clear goal in mind any more. Perhaps it has to do with my experience with expectation generally. But that just doesn't work for me, in how I approach things. So... as I ramble... what do I say is the purpose of Orthodox evangelism my conduct? To help people if I can help. To give information if people want information. To not be such a jerk when my immediate (usually unthinking) reaction is to be a jerk.

Well, anyway, this has been a self-indulgent blast. I hope yuns guys support IOCC and OCMC and such if you can. Or do what you can. If that means cleaning the church then that's great. I would much rather clean toilets than greet people at the door and put a smile on. Each have their own strengths I guess.
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« Reply #34 on: November 27, 2013, 11:04:45 AM »




I would caution against playing the numbers game.  Latin Polemicists like to use "numbers" as a cudgel to beat us over the head with, implying that because we don't have the crowds they have, that we are not the True Church.  Does the Buddhist Monk preach Christ?  Does he possess the truth?   He can get the numbers because he isn't Christian.  Buddhism is quite popular among Western "Spiritual" Seekers, and appeals to the attraction to the exotic.   Does that mean it is true?

I understand your concerns about "marketing."   The fact is,  how can we get that "mass appeal" without surrendering who we are?  I think we can't.   There is no one size fits all way to do it, and I think that each community and each individual Orthodox person has to follow the spirit as to how best to approach it.  Why should the Bishops tell us what to do?  We as the laity live in the world and are the average Joe/Jane's first exposure to Orthodoxy.  The responsibility is on us to make those connections, one water cooler at a time.

Orthodox Missions as you know predate those organizations you mentioned.  There are many great things happening, in Asia and Africa.

Bad Bishops are an old story, one that unfortunately continues to be repeated.   As long as we all are sinners, this will be true.  

What action would you have them take?



















Bishops & priests could perhaps convey to us that the time is at hand in which we need to fervently pray for evangelism (pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers to His harvest per Luke 10:2, Matthew 9:36-38) and that this is our basic & ultimate obligation to the world around us. If our churches close, then God's will be done. At least we strived spiritually to do better than having food fests & basket raffles & expanding vast amounts of physical energy in modes of dead functionalism aimed at merely surviving. I would hope that our prayer would be answered & we be spiritually blessed with wisdom & praticality to do what needs to be done.

Surely, in some areas of America Orthodoxy probably thrives with proactive parishes so my perspective is bleak. I do not mean to impugn the integrity of laity or clergy in my postings.
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« Reply #35 on: November 28, 2013, 10:06:42 AM »




I would caution against playing the numbers game.  Latin Polemicists like to use "numbers" as a cudgel to beat us over the head with, implying that because we don't have the crowds they have, that we are not the True Church.  Does the Buddhist Monk preach Christ?  Does he possess the truth?   He can get the numbers because he isn't Christian.  Buddhism is quite popular among Western "Spiritual" Seekers, and appeals to the attraction to the exotic.   Does that mean it is true?

I understand your concerns about "marketing."   The fact is,  how can we get that "mass appeal" without surrendering who we are?  I think we can't.   There is no one size fits all way to do it, and I think that each community and each individual Orthodox person has to follow the spirit as to how best to approach it.  Why should the Bishops tell us what to do?  We as the laity live in the world and are the average Joe/Jane's first exposure to Orthodoxy.  The responsibility is on us to make those connections, one water cooler at a time.

Orthodox Missions as you know predate those organizations you mentioned.  There are many great things happening, in Asia and Africa.

Bad Bishops are an old story, one that unfortunately continues to be repeated.   As long as we all are sinners, this will be true.  

What action would you have them take?



















Bishops & priests could perhaps convey to us that the time is at hand in which we need to fervently pray for evangelism (pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers to His harvest per Luke 10:2, Matthew 9:36-38) and that this is our basic & ultimate obligation to the world around us. If our churches close, then God's will be done. At least we strived spiritually to do better than having food fests & basket raffles & expanding vast amounts of physical energy in modes of dead functionalism aimed at merely surviving. I would hope that our prayer would be answered & we be spiritually blessed with wisdom & praticality to do what needs to be done.

Surely, in some areas of America Orthodoxy probably thrives with proactive parishes so my perspective is bleak. I do not mean to impugn the integrity of laity or clergy in my postings.

Good things are happening.  It may not be with the same fanfare and speed as the others, but the Gospel is spreading.   It is easy to get disheartened.   Forgive me if I came off as blunt or judgemental.
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« Reply #36 on: November 29, 2013, 12:02:54 AM »

Reply to Misplaced Book # 35:

Nothing you said seemed contentious to me at all; just plain discussion.
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