Wednesday, October 9, 2019

From Strategy to Tactics - the Next Step in Evangelism


We have talked a lot in the last few weeks about how we need to prepare the parish community to receive new people as part of our Evangelism. It is not that this question is now put to bed permanently, but there is no need to talk about the same thing all the time. In fact, I would argue that it is counter-productive to do so. The first few weeks of this effort to post weekly on Evangelism has been focused mostly on over-arching strategy, rather than tactics. Today I think we should begin to focus a little bit on tactics: actual things that we do to reach our goal of:

1. “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.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

2. “...thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

We are actually doing a lot of things right in this regard already. At least according to the author of the book I am reading now in this regard: “100 Natural Ways to Grow a Church – A Guide to Orthodox Evangelism in North America.” As I work through the book (and I would encourage everyone to pick up a copy – it is a light but informative read and free on Kindle) I am even a little surprised at how much we have already put in place to welcome new people into our community. I am thankful for this and for all who have worked so hard to get these things established. That is not to say we couldn’t do more/do this better. Of course we could. And we must. But we have a VERY good foundation already established. The founders of our parish had excellent vision in this regard! Now it is up to us to keep their efforts in place, to broaden them, to deepen them, and to strengthen them.

So we should look at some ways in which we could do things better than we already are. And maybe at adding a few arrows to our quiver, so to speak. Let’s make a little list:

A. I need help with this project! Our Volunteer Opportunities page has a ton of things that you can do right now to help your parish – ministries that you can be involved in supporting. Evangelism is one of these. Please consider volunteering – we can do A LOT with just a little effort and God’s blessing. And if we don’t care who gets the credit. The point is not who gets the credit – it is how we as a community can best spread the Gospel.

B. It is good that we have pamphlets to hand out to people that visit us. I’d like to up that game a notch and put together a welcome DVD. But that is going to take one or two helpers. In the last few weeks we’ve had some really good response to shooting our video live stream (we have 4 volunteers under the age of 20 doing this ever week now!) and with our Greeters (we are growing the number of Greeters too!). Thank God. But there is much more to do. I think a DVD to hand out to visitors is the logical next step. But we need volunteers to help – please consider whether you could help with this.

C. The Divine Services are key. This last weekend Vladyka Peter was supposed to be with us. He couldn’t come because he was sick. But WOW – what an incredible vigil we had on Saturday night! Full church. Full choir. Everything just beautiful! We need to do this every Saturday! And if we did – I guarantee the present church project would have to scrapped almost immediately because people would be coming to us IN DROVES. Why? Because of our authentic witness to authentic Christianity. The Divine Services are theology in action. We praise God, but we also learn. A lot. People are looking for authenticity. We have it! But we often hide it. We’ve got to stop doing that! And the Liturgy was no slouch either! 80+ for communion. 120+ kissed the cross. We can do this – even when the bishop isn’t there. But we have to want it. We have to be willing to work for it. If we are – our Evangelism will spike. If we aren’t – we’ll keep plodding along but obviously won’t do as well hiding our talents as we would if we actually used them.

That’s it. Short and hopefully to the point this week. Thank God Vladyka has recovered enough to be in Cleveland for their feast day this week (St. Sergius of Radonezh) and in Hiram for theirs (St. John the Theologian). Vladyka has asked me to join him so I am here posting from Ohio. We think we have a date for Vladyka to visit us in November. More to come on that. In the mean time, please think about A, B, C above. We shouldn’t think of Evangelism as some few huge leaps. Maybe it is that sometimes, but mostly it is lots of little things that add up to something great. Like A, B, C above. Maybe your ministry is in those points. I know people are consciously looking for their ministry because I keep talking about this incessantly. Pray about this – and help if you can. And if you can’t – keep looking. And keep praying. The Lord will help you find your ministry if you seek it sincerely and ask His help.

In Christ,

Fr. Gregory

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