Skip to Navigation

evangelism

Florida Priest Sees Outreach Program Grow in Depth and Numbers

By Fr. Michael Byars, Holy Cross Orthodox Church, Ormond Beach, FL

For many years I have felt that in my parish, and in Orthodox Christian parishes in general, there is a need for an evangelism program that is more than simply posting the time of our services and asking parishioners to invite friends to the liturgy. The Divine Liturgy is definitely very powerful and full of the Grace of God. However, I think that most of our parishioners hesitate to invite others to come to an Orthodox Liturgy without laying some ground work that they often do not feel equipped to do. I also suspect that the liturgical services of our church would be even more effective if there were some way to give solid introduction ahead of time.

My experience with evangelism programs, however, has not been positive. I think this is because the focus or the motives of these programs have been wrong. The focus most often seems to be on numbers and the motive often is church growth for the sake of filling the church pews, or even worse, increasing church revenues. I believe true Christian evangelism should be motivated out of love and the desire to share the true life giving Christian faith. We have this treasure in the Orthodox Church. I have thought that it would be great to have a structured evangelism program with this approach. When I was introduced to The Becoming Truly Human Program it immediately attracted my enthusiasm first of all because this program is exactly that.

An Introduction to Becoming Truly Human from Metropolitan Joseph

April 30, 2015

Christ is Risen! Truly, He is Risen!

For us, Orthodox Christians, this joyful proclamation of Pascha both gives meaning to our present lives and points us to the eternal joy of our own resurrection.

In our exuberance, it is easy to forget that most of our neighbors, co-workers and fellow citizens have no idea that this joy is even a possibility for them. While a great majority of Americans state their religion as Christian, only a small percentage of these self-proclaimed Christians attend a church on a regular basis. Our parish and mission cities are filled with both lapsed Christians and those who don't believe in Christ.

You have heard me, as your Metropolitan, state on many occasions that we must work together to spread the beautiful faith that is Orthodoxy. Can we truly say we are fi lled with the joy of the Resurrection, but find a way to keep it to ourselves? By no means!

For this reason, I have directed the program "Becoming Truly Human" be established, so that our churches would be equipped to share the Orthodox faith effectively. Already, over forty of our parishes are in the process of running it. We want people who otherwise might have no meaningful contact with our Church to be given the opportunity to "Come and see," as the earliest Christians said to their neighbors, inviting them to know Christ. 

It is my hope that all of our communities would participate in this effort. You can begin by contacting the "Becoming Truly Human" program coordinator, Adam Roberts, adamr@antiochian.org (615-971-0000) or the program consultant, Fr. Michael Nasser, frmichaeln@gmail.com (270-823-3371).

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.

Works of the Order in Action: Department of Missions and Evangelism

This photo was taken in Orem, Utah, at our Holy Apostles Mission in Utah County, near Brigham Young University and the Mormon International Missionary Training Center, and where Mormons are 90% of the population.This photo was taken in Orem, Utah, at our Holy Apostles Mission in Utah County, near Brigham Young University and the Mormon International Missionary Training Center, and where Mormons are 90% of the population.In 1987 our beloved Metropolitan Philip established the Department of Missions and Evangelism, with the commission to bring America home to the Faith of Peter and Paul. This commission and calling, given not only to the leaders of the Evangelical Orthodox Church but to every Orthodox Christian living in North America, rings even truer today, and more urgently.

Without the necessary funds, however, such commissions often go unfulfilled. The Order of St. Ignatius has helped to fund this mission for over 25 years. Under the chairmanship of Fr. Peter E. Gillquist of blessed memory, and the spiritual advice of Bishop Antoun, the Department of Missions and Evangelism has been instrumental in raising up and receiving over a hundred church communities into our beloved Archdiocese. We cannot say that these churches were started only by the clergy, for the laity, moved to serve through the Order of St. Ignatius, provided the necessary funds for these efforts to bear fruit.

Will We Be Ready for the "Coming Evangelical Collapse"?

A recent opinion article in The Christian Science Monitor, titled, “The Coming Collapse of Evangelicalism,” by the late blogger and evangelical pastor Michael Spencer (also known as “The Internet Monk”), created quite a stir with its publication in May 2012. (It was originally written in 2009). His apocalyptic opening lines were: “Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants.” His prediction is that the evangelical movement in its varied forms is collapsing for a number of reasons, including the following:

  • too close an identification with social and political conservatism and the so-called “culture wars”;
  • failure to pass on to evangelical young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive;
  • Christian education not having produced a people who can withstand the rising tide of secularism;
  • Christian ministries increasingly coming into conflict with a secular society that sees its “good works” as “bad”;
  • an inability to pass on to their children a vital evangelical confidence in the Bible and the importance of the faith; and
  • the sources of money will dry up.

Eastern Orthodox Churches will be shortterm beneficiaries

Evangelism 2.0: Modern Communication leads to Ancient Faith and Communion

by Fr. Joel Gillam and Peter Schweitzer

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Mt. 28:18-20)

St. Matthew’s Gospel concludes with Our Lord’s 'Great Commission', that we should “Go forth” and teach the entire world what He has revealed. This command is directed to every Orthodox Christian, to each and every one of us, through Holy Baptism. This is the mission that every generation is chosen for; the ministry that each of us as part of the royal priesthood offers (1Pet. 2:9). In order to fulfill this command we must know several things: 1) the message, 2) the people to whom we are delivering the message; and 3) knowing these things we must determine the means to deliver the message.

In the secular world, this is known as a communications plan. In the Church it is evangelism, bringing the people the Good News of Christ. In principle, what we are discussing is no different from any other communications plan devised by businesses, organizations, or political campaigns. Yet at the same time it is so that the world might know “God the Father, and Jesus Christ whom [He] has sent” (Jn. 17:3); the gift of eternal life. This is true mission work and evangelism.

Antiochian Orthodoxy in the Philippines

In 2007 the leaders of two separate Christian groups in the Philippines contacted His Eminence Paul in Sydney, asking to join the Orthodox Church.

Many long and fruitful discussions were held between His Eminence and the two leaders, which culminated with His Eminence inviting them to Sydney for further face-to-face discussions. They arrived in May 2007, where they stayed as guests of His Eminence for three weeks. The teachings of the groups were considered and they also learned about Orthodoxy. At the end of the three weeks, both leaders stood and declared: “We accept what the Orthodox Church accepts and refuse what She refuses.” His Eminence answered them, “Welcome home,” the phrase with which Archbishop Philip welcomed the converts.

In December 2011, one of our Orthodox priests in Manila called His Eminence to report that he had been in contact with three different groups and some individual leaders who had all come to the conclusion that they would like to join the Orthodox Church. The Archdiocese began communications with these groups. We learnt that the larger group, consisting of some seven thousand families, knew much about Orthodoxy and that their leaders were very proud to call themselves “orthodox” with a small o.

On Saturday, January 28, His Eminence travelled to the Philippines to visit his parishes and to meet with the new groups. On Tuesday, January 31, His Eminence and seven clergymen of the two larger groups met and discussed their teachings over three full days. At the conclusion of this meeting His Eminence welcomed them to the Antiochian Orthodox Church and promised to bring some of their clergy to Sydney for training and ordination, to be followed by a trip to the Philippines by His Eminence to train and ordain the other leaders.

Orthodoxy in Dixie

By Father Joseph Huneycutt

I’m a Southerner. I was born and reared a Southern Baptist; educated as an Episcopalian, and converted to Orthodox Christianity a decade ago. Since then, I’ve been struggling to be Orthodox. As a missionary priest, I’ve also struggled to bring others to Orthodoxy in the South. More than anything, I’ve learned that I have a lot to learn. I’ve also concluded that Orthodoxy, in its plethora of jurisdictions, will have to learn some things, appreciate some things, about Southern Culture before ever being truly successful in bringing Southerners to the Faith.

I was reared in a small town near Charlotte, North Carolina. Growing up, I never met a Jew, much less a Muslim. Lutherans were rare enough in my hometown, much less Roman Catholics. Basically, we were Baptists and Methodists, blacks and whites. I’d never even heard of Orthodox Christianity until I was on my way to the Episcopal seminary in the 1980’s. Come to think of it, I’ll bet most folks in my hometown still have never heard of Orthodoxy.

Syndicate content