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How Do We Define Success?

by His Grace Bishop John, from the June 2015 issue of The Word

How do we define success? How do we know when our parish is succeeding? How do we evaluate the ministry of your parish? How do we know we are doing what God wants us to be doing?

For answers to these and similar questions, stay tuned to this edition of The WORD, where I hope to offer some articles, solutions, and even more questions!

Who are we? What is our mission? What are our values? What are we doing with what we know?

We are God's own people, His holy nation, ordained in our baptism to bring the world to God and God to His world. Our mission is to love the Lord our God with our whole mind, being and soul, to share His love, taking care of His people, and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. What we value is sharing in God's life, free of temptation, bad choices and sin. What we are doing is gathering together in God's name, preparing and fortifying each other to be successful in our mission. We are opening God's house to all the people whom God calls our neighbor.

The fastest growing religious category in America is called the "Nones." Nones are folks who identify themselves as not belonging to any religious community. Many have been baptized somewhere, but feel no responsibility to any Christian community, while others have not been initiated into any religious group. When asked, most say that they don't know what they believe and are content not knowing. Religions are not their thing, and they are busy enough and happy enough fulfilling themselves with themselves. "Nones" are a significant and important mission field. Many of them are children of the founders of the Orthodox churches in America. Others are folks from every possible religious tradition, including none! They are important to serve because we know them to be our neighbors. They may have enough food, but they don't know enough to be hungry for a relationship with God. They may have designer clothing, but they have no robe of light. They may not be behind bars, but they need the true freedom that comes from baptism and union with God.

Like the "nones," many of our parishioners have been exposed to few of the scriptural messages of our faith. They are unaware of how God works in our lives and don't know how to pray. Recognizing the needs of our parishioners, parishes and the communities in which our parishes are located, our Archdiocese has embarked on a program to reach out to the "nones" and other neighbors that God has put in our lives and in our communities. The WORD is excited about this new initiative and will work cooperatively with the parishes and Archdiocese leaders in these new efforts. Join me in praying for our leaders as we embark together in this exciting ministry and do all you can to participate and support this exciting new outreach.

Doing the outreach that God has commissioned us to do is how I define success. Seeing the parish serving God and all people is how I know the parish is succeeding. As for the judgment of God's ministry, I'll leave that up to God.

Bishop John