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Author Topic: Evangelism in Orthodoxy: A Must-Have  (Read 1536 times) Average Rating: 0
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Fr. David
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« on: April 29, 2006, 01:12:20 PM »

OK, so this is simply the excited "preaching" of someone who's just read an opinion similar to his own on a subject dear to his heart, but maybe it'll spark some discussion...

Regarding this post made by BrotherAiden in another thread:

AMEN...AMEN...A...MEN!!!  Especially these two parts...

Orthodoxy needs to quit licking old wounds and get on with the work of the kingdom of God.  One can't always just say " we have right worship and right belief" and meanwhile it is the blue collar evangelicals running the local soup kitchen and shelter and the liberal protestants running the food bank...and who is even bothering with the millions of people that have never darkened the door of a church, post-moderns for whom religion is totally outside their experience? For whom Starbucks or a Sunday morning jog or walk with the dogs or coffee on the back deck is a more viable option than church? As soon as one even mentions this (the dreaded "e" word -- evangelism), the response is,"well we don't go door to door and pressure people like the evangelicals do; we are there for anyone who wants to 'come and see'" - which seems to me to be a nice excuse for sitting  on our collective arses.

And this...

Quote
Rather than bash Catholics or protestants, how about inviting some pagan at work to church?
How about telling a neighbor, not about prostrations and nuances of liturgy, but that God so loved the world that He sent His only Son - to meet them in their despair and sin.

Maybe I am still too protestant, but shouldn't we convert people to CHRIST, then bring them into the fullness of the Church. Oh, I forgot -- we don't evangelize! Sorry that our Lord said to go into ALL the world and preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations. If that's not evangelism, then what on earth is it?

Wonderful, and something that needs to be repeated ad nauseum in our churches until it takes and people wake up and see that this really is something that we not only should do for purposes of maintaining our numbers, but (more importantly) something we are commanded to do by our Lord for purposes of making disciples and bringing our fellow sinners with us onto the road of theosis towards the Kingdom of God.

Pedro, who's in the process of making pamphlets/booklets for just the purpose that BroAiden proposes...
« Last Edit: April 29, 2006, 01:20:32 PM by Pedro » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2006, 02:31:15 PM »

Brother Aidan and Pedro,
Wonderful ideas and thoughts! May God help you.
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jaderook
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« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2006, 08:22:19 PM »

Pedro, who's in the process of making pamphlets/booklets for just the purpose that BroAiden proposes...

Would be interested in seeing these pamphlets/booklets when completed...perhaps you'd post them somewhere for public usage?
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« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2006, 08:30:26 PM »

I feel there is a need for any kind of involvement, really. This is one of the biggest needs we have, but we also still need more people who can work with Christians who aren't Orthodox; that is no small group. Perhaps if everyone spent 15 minutes a day telling others about Christ and inviting them to Church we'd have record numbers. I suspect there are a lot of people out there who don't even know they have an Orthodox co-worker!
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« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2006, 08:45:40 PM »

I suspect there are a lot of people out there who don't even know they have an Orthodox co-worker!
 I was chrismated on Saturday and I only very recently discovered that two of my co-workers were Orthodox.  Totally surprised me.  Now, I could start another thread on a different vein, but yeah, all that to say you're right.   Wink
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augustin717
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« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2006, 08:57:29 PM »

In Eastern Europe some kind of accesible Orthodox cathechesis is very necessary, given the inroads of many Western Protestant/Evangelical missionaries. But, as for our Church, it seems to me, that few of its bishops are aware that their flock is switching folds. And a new alliance between the OC the state (as was proposed in Romania several years ago, when some would have had the OC declared "the established Church") will never solve the real problem: millions of Orthodox Christians unable to articulate even the most basic of their beliefs. And these are such an easy prey for all sorts of missionaries.
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augustin717
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« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2006, 09:08:46 PM »

I've just remembered an argument an Evangelical missionary was using trying to win converts from the OC in Romania.
He said smth like this: "See, you are so poor here in Romania and all over Eastern Europe, precisely because you are Orthodox; look at the Americans, they are Evangelical, their President is a Baptist (i.e. Clinton, before the Lewinsky scandal Grin) and how well they fare!"
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« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2006, 11:50:08 PM »

That's a poor argument but for ppl without money and necessities at times, I guess it could work.

As for evangelising, before we try and evangelise other ppl what about evangelising ourselves? I wish we could train a bunch of diverse orthodox north american youth and then send them on orthodox missions to Greece,Syria/Lebanon, Romania, Egypt, and the Ukraine and sporadically talk to other youth in these places about God and share with them our own experiences of what Orthodoxy is, in practise, rather than solely hearing it or seeing it once a year @ Pascha when the epitafios is processed...

I know so many Greek, Romanian, Antiochian, and Egyptian youth who are not touched by the church or are repelled from the lack of understanding of what it is all about. To many of them, its all about getting the holy light on your candle, signing the cross many times, and lighting candles. Any prayers that might accompany this is probably far and few between- perhaps in times of need. We need to get rid of the "I'm orthodox because I'm  latvian...etc_____________."

At the same time, we should never ever forget out personal nationality's struggles and epic stories of how orthodoxy has shaped or played a role in it.

Then again, maybe it is just our times we're living in. Either we're headed for the end of the world as is imminent, or we are currently going through another cycle when society is either very secular or very religious. We're in the secular part- duh.
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« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2006, 07:26:59 PM »

One thing that Dr. Constantine Cavarnos said this weekend was:  

"we do not convert people.  They convert themselves. So stop trying to convert people.  Just present Christ to them"  

Which I thought was a good idea.  A little unrealistic, but when you couple this with a fervent faith and approach people in Christ I think it can work.  Just a thought...
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« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2013, 09:57:41 PM »

+1 to this thread...
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« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2013, 10:39:22 PM »

6 years later...glad it has some meaning still! Lol
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« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2013, 03:03:18 PM »

This topic is dear to my heart.  I cannot think of anything more important for Orthodoxy in the United States than the recovery of the urgency of authentic evangelistic mission.  But I honestly do not know how this urgency can be recovered.  As far as I can determine, for many Orthodox priests evangelism means  celebrating the Divine Liturgy.  Perhaps we might coin it the Field of Dreams understanding of evangelism: "Celebrate it and they will come."       

Other obstacles can be easily cited, but I think the above is sufficient for the moment.  One has to wonder how the gospel ever got out of Jerusalem. 
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« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2013, 04:01:58 PM »

this is very dear to my heart too.
i am not in the us, but am doing an online orthodox evangelism course from usa:

http://evangelismcopticorthodox.org/home.html
(find the course on the list on the left, and there are lots of other resources on the page).
maybe, father, you could write to the organisers and ask if you could use some of their materials to train up evangelists in your area.

i suggest the following recipe for evangelism (to be taken a little lightly):
1. pray a lot
2. fast a lot.
3. pray a lot more.
4. hold Bible study meetings for anyone interested. it may be a good idea to do it after coffee hour / lunch on sunday to start with, then on another day as well as needed.
5. from these find deacons / sub deacons who can lead more meetings.
6. hold more meetings to which church people and outsiders can both come and ask questions about the Christian faith.
7. get the majority of the church attenders involved in Bible study, prayer and fasting, and a disciplined spiritual life.
(this one may take some time...)
8. make sure you do the majority of your services in the language(s) of the majority surrounding population.
(the congregation will have realised this is the right thing to do from all their time spent studying the Bible and so will not oppose this move)
 Wink
9. take advice from the converts who have joined you (since you embarked on point 1 several years ago) on how to reach out to the surrounding people (who may be of one or more 'foreign' cultures) but avoid the temptation to give people teaching positions above their spiritual level just because they are converts and it 'looks good'.
10. start reaching out (eg. vespers followed by tea and cake and a short presentation on the church).
11. spend extra time with those who were originally in the church at the time of point 1 and encourage their spiritual gifts and their personal evangelism.
12. do some social outreach as well, such as foodbanks for poor people, visiting the elderly, chat with the lonely (students, umemployed etc.)

these are important things to avoid:
1. grouping people with respect to age (it's not in the Bible or the church fathers and it encourages selfishness). ok, teaching small children separately AFTER liturgy is ok, as they have a short attention span, but what's the big deal with singles groups, seniors groups etc?!
how is a young person supposed to learn if the old people are not with him? how can the old stay young and dynamic if their only friends are also old and so are all dying off?
i didn't escape stereotyping in the protestant churches just to find it creeping into the orthodox church too!
2. grouping people with respect to gender, also not a feature of the early church (i have always been fascinated with the teaching in 'men's groups', precisely because i wasn't allowed in! ok, i'm a sinner, but so are most other people!)
3. grouping people with respect to ethnicity, social class or level of education. (my least favourite of all!) again, this has no basis in Holy Tradition.
my current church (i move house a lot) has Bible study classes (in english, so not a big group comes!) and there are all sorts of people there. we are getting to know each other and benefitting a lot from the different cultures expressing the same faith. we have converts in the church from different faith and cultural backgrounds and it is lovely to meet them and to meet the majority north africans as well.
we also have Bible studies in arabic, which is great. i have not been yet, as i am still working on my arabic.
i don't mind people doing different outreaches in different languages, but the aim should always be one of integration into the host country language for those whose language skills permit (i have some friends who find english very, very difficult, so i understand the host language can't be used 100% of the time).

anyway these are just my thoughts, maybe they will be useful.
as the writer to the evangelism course pointed out, Jesus preached for 3 years before the first church was established, so if it took time for Him, we can expect it to take some time for us too!
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« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2013, 06:20:32 PM »

i just wrote a longer (but more sensible) article on evangelism preparation for the evangelism class. so if anyone is interested in it, please let me know.
otherwise i will not bore you with my ravings!
 Wink
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« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2013, 10:47:56 PM »

i just wrote a longer (but more sensible) article on evangelism preparation for the evangelism class. so if anyone is interested in it, please let me know.
otherwise i will not bore you with my ravings!
 Wink

I interested.
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« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2013, 11:35:08 PM »

This topic is dear to my heart.  I cannot think of anything more important for Orthodoxy in the United States than the recovery of the urgency of authentic evangelistic mission.  But I honestly do not know how this urgency can be recovered.  As far as I can determine, for many Orthodox priests evangelism means  celebrating the Divine Liturgy.  Perhaps we might coin it the Field of Dreams understanding of evangelism: "Celebrate it and they will come."       

Other obstacles can be easily cited, but I think the above is sufficient for the moment.  One has to wonder how the gospel ever got out of Jerusalem. 
Amen, Father! I've been trying to pin point that exact problem, but words failed me. There are so many opportunities in many different areas, my area is no exception. Your post inspired me, Father.

In Christ,
Andrew
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« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2013, 11:52:55 PM »

i just wrote a longer (but more sensible) article on evangelism preparation for the evangelism class. so if anyone is interested in it, please let me know.
otherwise i will not bore you with my ravings!
 Wink

Yes please! I like your ravings. Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2013, 02:26:43 PM »

i have sent those as requested; anyone else who wants one, please send a personal message so i don't derail the thread.
 Smiley
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