Author Topic: How to go about Orthodox evangelism  (Read 6637 times)

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Offline Story

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How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« on: August 03, 2019, 12:31:35 AM »
From an Orthodox perspective, on a basic level, how should people go about spreading the faith? It's not the most "marketable" religion in a lot of ways - having more obligations than many forms of Christianity, not attempting to appeal to modern culture too much, etc. - which we know are largely a result of its truthfulness and actually good things, but which I can't help would imagine would make it a hard sell. Bringing strongly associated with ethnicity (which is not always a bad thing either as long as people don't go overboard) can make it difficult too.

To a certain extent, I don't think it's a bad thing that Orthodoxy isn't as "pushy" as Protestantism or Catholicism because it's easy for evangelism to go awry and we need to make sure we're focused on our own spirituality and not only on other people's. That's something I really value about Orthodox Christianity. But obviously, it's still important to share the hope that we have.

Does anyone have any thoughts on basic ways that ordinary people can share their faith? It's funny, in my former Evangelical background, evangelism was heavily encouraged, but I wasn't motivated to as much because I guess I knew deep down there was something big missing in my spiritual life...and now I feel more like I have something worth sharing, but I don't know how to do it.

Offline isxodnik

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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2019, 12:39:07 AM »
and we need to make sure we're focused on our own spirituality and not only on other people's.

- "Save yourself, and thousands will be saved around you." This is the best sermon.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2019, 12:39:57 AM by isxodnik »
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Offline RobS

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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2019, 01:42:35 AM »
From an Orthodox perspective, on a basic level, how should people go about spreading the faith?
By being Orthodox more than on Sunday mornings.
"The business of the Christian is nothing else than to be ever preparing for death (μελεπᾷν ἀποθνήσκειν)."

— Saint Irenaeus of Lyons, Fragment XI

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Offline MalpanaGiwargis

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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2019, 09:29:34 AM »
I grew up in Evangelical contexts, too, so I understand the impulse. I think it's probably best to know your faith, and more importantly, live the faith, being "ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (1 Peter 3:15). A good life is the best witness. More organized attempts at evangelization and mission have to be done under the authority of the bishop, so I don't think witness in that sense is an individual mandate in the way many Evangelicals think. If your parish or diocese has outreach programs, you might ask your pastor about how you can help.
Woe is me, that I have read the commandments,
   and have become learned in the Scriptures,
and have been instructed in Your glories,
   and yet I have become occupied in shameful things!

(Giwargis Warda, On Compunction of Soul)

Offline Ariend

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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2019, 02:55:24 AM »
and we need to make sure we're focused on our own spirituality and not only on other people's.

- "Save yourself, and thousands will be saved around you." This is the best sermon.
+1

This is a quote from Saint Seraphim of Sarov. Simply trying to become closer to God can help others around you in your everyday life (like your workplace) turn to God. For example, people can notice things about you in your everyday life, like if you make the Sign of the Cross before meals. They can also notice your love for others, and be admired at what can inspire someone to love other people. This can open up conversations with other people about your faith.
Like MalpanaGiwargis says, if there is an evangelization program your church offers, then you can definitely take it up.
Finally, pray for others and for the spread of the Church.
Hope this helps.
How magnified are Thy works, O Lord! In wisdom hast Thou made them all.

Offline hecma925

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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2019, 10:16:12 AM »
"Save youself", not "acquire the Holy Spirit (or "a peaceful spirit")?  That's a new one to me.
Happy shall he be, that shall take and dash thy little ones against the rock. Alleluia.

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Offline JTLoganville

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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2019, 05:26:37 PM »
I came to Orthodoxy from a Lutheran background.

In the months immediately preceding my Chrismation (now several years past) I reflected on the journey and identified several pivotal moments mostly involving the Holy Saturday Lamentations.

More recently, however, I have started to consider the beginnings of the beginning of the journey.   It wasn't just the pivotal moment of reading the 9th Ode "Weep not, mother".   It was the many years of reading postings of the Troparion and Kotakion of the various Feasts on a non-Orthodox message board which had been offered up by a faithful Cantor. 

I would read those and think "now THERE is some real depth and understanding of the Scriptures".   And eventually that reading became a craving for more.

Then there were the Icons which I purchased decades ago from an evangelical yet eclectic independent Christian bookstore:  Christ the Teacher and the Theotokos "Directress", of course.  They were silent guides and witnesses to the unfolding (and as yet to me unknown) journey.

And then there were the "Popular Patristics Series" from St. Vladimirs' Press, introduced to me by that same bookstore.  Truth be told, they mostly sat on the shelf through those decades, except for "The Sacraments" by Cyril of Jerusalem.   And that was for the best.  It was only after I had made the final transition, or, more precisely, the "leaving" part, that i was truly ready, willing, and able to read "On the Holy Icons" by John of Damascus.

To reduce all of this to a single sentence, one which has served me well in other situations:

"Gentle pressure--relentlessly applied"

Gently, gingerly, tenderly expose others to the treasures of our faith, one by one.

Eti kai eti

Again and again...over and over.

Relentlessly.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2019, 05:29:37 PM by JTLoganville »

Offline Ainnir

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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2019, 05:35:12 PM »
I'm not sure people really want to be sold on any faith these days.  I know I didn't.  As others have said, share it through your life.  Orthodoxy is a demonstrative faith, and although we are to know what we believe and why, we don't have to rely solely on our words to share our Faith.  Also, it's not our job to convince anyone of it.  Orthodoxy is distinct from Evangelicalism in that regard (and many others).  Pray first for the heterodox and unbelieving, then just be humbly Orthodox, and be ready to answer questions.  Participating in any outreach your parish is doing, as well as local outreaches in your area are also ways to share our Faith.  It may open opportunities for conversations, as well.  But try to consider such opportunities and planting seeds, not a mission to convince people.  That is between God and the individual.  Hope that helps.  :)
Is any of the above Orthodox?  I have no idea, so there’s that.

Offline Ariend

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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2019, 05:58:32 PM »
"Save youself", not "acquire the Holy Spirit (or "a peaceful spirit")?  That's a new one to me.
I guess it can be worded differently. Now I remember how I originally heard it: "Acquire the spirit of peace and thousands around you will be saved."
How magnified are Thy works, O Lord! In wisdom hast Thou made them all.

Offline Lepanto

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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2019, 03:53:35 PM »
I wonder where we would be today if the Apostles had left it at a "live your life in a way that people ask you about it" instead of preaching and speaking at least partially in public. Ah, but that is tiring and unsatisfying and leads to all kinds of confrontations. How is it not elitist to sneer at street evangelization as done mainly by protestants? Is Orthodoxy elitist? Nah, we do not need to go and bother talking to the people on the streets. We have our beautiful liturgies, theological and patristic air supremacy. Given enough time, people will come and see. For those who don't ... well.
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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2019, 04:07:50 PM »
I wonder where we would be today if the Apostles had left it at a "live your life in a way that people ask you about it" instead of preaching and speaking at least partially in public. Ah, but that is tiring and unsatisfying and leads to all kinds of confrontations. How is it not elitist to sneer at street evangelization as done mainly by protestants? Is Orthodoxy elitist? Nah, we do not need to go and bother talking to the people on the streets. We have our beautiful liturgies, theological and patristic air supremacy. Given enough time, people will come and see. For those who don't ... well.

'Die in a way that people ask about it' works too. After all, Christianity grew by leaps and bounds during times when it was not simply illegal but a literal death sentence.
'Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against stupid. That might actually make a difference.'~Harry Dresden

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Offline Lepanto

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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2019, 04:18:49 PM »
I wonder where we would be today if the Apostles had left it at a "live your life in a way that people ask you about it" instead of preaching and speaking at least partially in public. Ah, but that is tiring and unsatisfying and leads to all kinds of confrontations. How is it not elitist to sneer at street evangelization as done mainly by protestants? Is Orthodoxy elitist? Nah, we do not need to go and bother talking to the people on the streets. We have our beautiful liturgies, theological and patristic air supremacy. Given enough time, people will come and see. For those who don't ... well.

'Die in a way that people ask about it' works too. After all, Christianity grew by leaps and bounds during times when it was not simply illegal but a literal death sentence.
Agreed, martyrdom is the most direct way of evangelization, if you want. Still, I was thinking in a Western hemisphere scenario with a majority benevolent or neutral-agnostic towards Christianity, even Orthodoxy.
Sanctus Deus, Sanctus fortis, Sanctus immortalis, miserere nobis.

Offline isxodnik

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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2019, 09:44:30 PM »
The talk be about seeing in you a confirmation of your words.

Three of the fathers used to go every year to the blessed Abba Anthony. And two of them asked him about the thoughts and salvation of the soul, and one was always silent, did not ask about anything. After a long time has passed, Abba Anthony says to him: “That's how long you come here and never asked me anything.” He replied, “it is Enough for me to look at you, father.”
« Last Edit: August 05, 2019, 09:44:43 PM by isxodnik »
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Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2019, 09:53:21 PM »
Convert the king, and then he will force the conversion of his people by the sword. It's our historic method of evangelization. See St. Emperor Theodosios the Great for the Graeco-Roman example, or St. Vladimir the Great for a Slavic example.

Offline Ainnir

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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2019, 10:00:58 PM »
I wonder where we would be today if the Apostles had left it at a "live your life in a way that people ask you about it" instead of preaching and speaking at least partially in public. Ah, but that is tiring and unsatisfying and leads to all kinds of confrontations. How is it not elitist to sneer at street evangelization as done mainly by protestants? Is Orthodoxy elitist? Nah, we do not need to go and bother talking to the people on the streets. We have our beautiful liturgies, theological and patristic air supremacy. Given enough time, people will come and see. For those who don't ... well.
Street evangelism didn't work on me, so I'm not going to turn around and try to do it to someone else.  That's my reason.  I used to call it evangelical belt-notching, because that's what it feels like.  One guy pulled the "But what if you die tomorrow?!" line.  I told him I'd go to hell honest.  It's not that we shouldn't get out there, just not like that.
Is any of the above Orthodox?  I have no idea, so there’s that.

Offline hecma925

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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #15 on: August 05, 2019, 10:52:20 PM »
Take two years of your life going door-to-door telling people about the Ecumenical Councils.  Bring an icon with you.
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Offline isxodnik

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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2019, 10:59:40 PM »
I'm not a historian and have not studied this issue at the Amateur level, but I read somewhere that the assertion that knyaz Vladimir baptized Rus with a sword, is not true. And I agree with that. Think about it - are you repeat slander? (Not only you, but any other, thoughtlessly repeating: "Isaac the Syrian - Nestorian", "Seraphim of Sarov - old believer", "Vladimir baptized with fire and sword"...) It would be a offensive at the Last Judgment to know that because of this you remained alien to God, agree?

https://foma.ru/mifyi-o-kreshhenii-rusi.html
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Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2019, 06:13:38 PM »
I read through an English translation of the Primary Chronicle / Tale of Bygone Years, which is our oldest primary source which records the conversion of Rus. The text says that those who would refuse baptism "risked the prince's displeasure".

As someone trained in the historical method with a history degree, I'm pretty sure I can handle the basic task of making sure their is merit in a claim before I make it. Unless two different English translations were entirely unfaithful to the Slavonic original, I am assuming these translations are good enough to get the point across.

"I read somewhere" sounds a lot less informed than the primary source material.

He dragged the idols through the streets, had them beaten, burned, etc. You think he would have tolerated his subjects continuing to worship those deities?

« Last Edit: August 06, 2019, 06:17:26 PM by Alveus Lacuna »

Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2019, 06:32:40 PM »
"Thereafter Vladimir sent heralds throughout the whole city to proclaim that if any inhabitants, rich or poor, did not betake himself to the river, he would risk the Prince's displeasure. When the people heard these words, they wept for joy, and exclaimed in their enthusiasm, "If this were not good, the Prince and his boyars would not have accepted it!""

Offline SolEX01

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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2019, 06:39:15 PM »
Christians no longer convert by force; they rely on the prosperity gospel (e.g. Joel Osteen) or slick marketing (700 Club).

Offline isxodnik

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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #20 on: August 06, 2019, 07:40:39 PM »
That is, with the text from the link you didn't familiarize. Ok.
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Re: How to go about Orthodox evangelism
« Reply #21 on: August 15, 2019, 11:56:12 PM »
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