Y'all are hilarious:
As a little aside at what I percieve to be a jab at more "ethnic" jurisdictions...
If services partially conducted in a non-native language were the absolute bar to conversion that some insist that they are, then I (and many others) would not be in the GOA.
I've gotten the vibe from some converts (that I've known all my life - been Orthodox just as long) that almost feel offended if a parish would use ANY non-English ! As if they couldn't understand Kyrie e eleison or Go spo di po mi liu. As if potential converts would be offended as well. As if it's too much trouble to at least learn a few words in another lanuage.
I think that is one of the frustrating parts of American culture and left over from the days of manifest destiny. Since Americans in general tend to not need nor use second language as much as people from other continents (and seemed to get irked at times that Spanish is spoken on their continent!) they have little tolerance for them. Whereas in Europe hearing several languages in close quaters is quite common.
Pedro can tell tales of "winning souls for Christ," and it's not really how Orthodoxy evangelizes. I bet there's some good info on evangelizing in the lives of the North American saints.
Man...talk about putting words in somebody's mouth...your perceptions are off
, y'all...I'm frickin' bilingual, y'all, and I teach English-speakers to speak Spanish, so I'm hardly a poster-child for monolingual anything. Where in the WORLD did I mention "ethnic" anything? Or none of the liturgy being in a language other than English? Or hatred for any other language other than English in the US at any time? And where--where?!
--did I ever
mention the phrase "win souls for Christ"?
I made two categories of parishes: those who are interested in getting the faith out where people can see it and know it's even there--as the North American saints did by living holy lives AND preaching the gospel to those who hadn't heard it--and those who don't. There are parishes which fit into each category that are both predominately "ethnic" and "convert." I do not
appreciate being second guessed.
Of course English services and active missionary work are an auxilary to Orthodox missions, they are not the sine qua non of Orthodox missionary work. Grace is what draws the heart to Christ, and grace acts independant of external circumstances such as language or culture.
Right...and grace can work through active missionary work just as much as contemplative prayer...and, really, the two need to be intertwined at all times!
So there are more converts than you'd expect baptized into an "ethnic" church that is supposedly devoid of missionary outreach.
Yeah, I know...I'm one of them. Imagine, though, what could happen if these "ethnics" who aren't used to sharing their faith (though some are) got more of an "ethos" of sharing their faith...like, say, my Lebanese godfather, who's talked about his faith with pretty much everybody at the bank he works at. Yes, wonder of wonders, I do think "ethnics" (what an awful term...) can share their faith...
Believe me, I do not speak Greek well, neither does anyone of my convert friends, but we are the heart of our local parish.
Neither did I (nor do I) speak Arabic. But not everyone is as willing as we to put up with a liturgy that is half in a foreign language! The story that was told of parents complaining about a pittance of foreign language prayer as being "all in Russian" is definitely extreme. As I've said, certain prayers (that get reapeated in English) are all right in the old country languages, but we're in the States, where the lingua franca (npi) is English. I don't think it's too much to ask to have services primarily in a language that the majority of people (regardless of ethnic background, anymore) in a parish can understand.
The fact is that the Holy Spirit is the one who will convert others. I have a friend who was lamenting the fact that his zealous efforts to convert his parents and brothers had no result besides getting his relatives angry with him. "How can I convert them?" he lamented.
I let him know that *he* does not convert them, but the Spirit does. My friend should busy himself in ministering to others by loving them as well as he can, and in time the Spirit will prompt his family to open their hearts.
And you would be correct, sir. But there is a difference between haranguing close relatives (whom you see often) and total strangers (who get repelled at your affronting them) and going out into the highways and biways and merely offering the faith to those with whom you come into contact. If God moves on their hearts to respond, great. If not, we back off politely. But to not say anything, to clam up completely and never bring up our faith in the first place, is denying folks a chance to find a faith they may not be looking for.
Should our lives reflect the work of the Holy Spirit while we do this? Yes, of course! It's a both/and situation here, not an either/or one. We show AND tell, 'cause if we don't have both, neither works as well (I swear I did not mean for that to rhyme...)
At least that's what works for me, but perhaps that's what works for me since I'm not much of a argumentative type.
Again, no need to argue about it. Offer, then gauge a reaction, and back off if need be.
When it comes to evangelizing: less talk, more praxis.
We could definitely use a swing in that direction. My contention is that folks seem to use "more praxis" as a cop-out for "don't say anything 'cause it might wig someone out." Be polite, use your sphere of influence to talk with people who might listen, then back off. People really do respect that.
We should leave the talking to those whom the Church has appointed to teach. The best evangelizing we can do is to show what a true Orthodox Christian is by being one oursleves.
Hate to break it to you, but most folks aren't looking for the connection between "living a life of love" and "Orthodox life and faith." St. Athanasius said that one of the reasons God became man was because He needed to "get down on our level" and get our attention, as we weren't naturally looking for the things of God. God had to come down to man's level and point upward. We do, too. As for ozgeorge's next comment:
People are sick and tired of "talk" when it comes to matters of Faith- and who can blame them?
I definitely agree; there are far too many belligerent people out there who angrily or obtrusively come up to people and "spring Jesus" on folks, never taking the hint that the folks are resisting or that their manner might come across as offensive. This is NOT a polite, humble approach which, when accompanying a message, can actually put folks in a better disposition to hear what you're saying. Yes, it's ultimately the Holy Spirit who draws, but humans do naturally respond better if they feel they have space to breathe and room to disagree.
Maybe the only "talk" we should be doing is just to say "Come and See!" as the scripture says? Maybe that should be the primary bait by the "untrained" laity?
And when people ask us to explain what they "came and saw"? How many folks (converts included, here!) could actually do that? Moreover, how many of us are actually telling people to "come and see!"?
"to win souls for Christ."
ew! ew! ew! no, we don't win souls, and if someone we know comes to the Church, we praise the Holy Spirit for using us as a tool, hopefully as conduit, not a pry-bar. There's a connotation with one and a different meaning with the other...I think wording is important.
I agree, "winning souls" is a poor choice of words, which is why I'd never use it myself...one man sows, another waters, but it's God who brings the increase. We may not be called to do something as large-scale as the NA Saints, but we can leave a tract (along with a BIG tip) for a waitress, or leave literature at the food bank along with the canned foods your parish collects, or visit prisoners, or offer the hope of the Resurrection to a grieving friend, or make the statement that maybe the reason their lives are so out of whack is because they're resisting God.... All this can be done in love and humility. Some folks, even then, will tell the humblest of people (which I am not) to buzz off. And that's cool, too.
Yes, praxis. But also talk.