Evangelism in the Orthodox Church

The single most comprehensive, contemporary lesson in Church growth (specifically, how to evangelize effectively in your parish) can be learned by standing in any Orthodox church on the first Sunday of Great Lent (Great Lent being a traditional time for the catechumenate) and listening to the Gospel reading (John 1:35ff.). A paraphrase of the events in this passage is as follows:
1.Jesus told Andrew, “Come and see,” and they did.
2.Because it was important, Andrew went and found his brother Simon Peter and brought him to Jesus.
3.Jesus told Philip, “Follow me,” and he did.
4.Because it was important, Philip went and found his friend Nathanael and told him, and Nathanael came to Jesus.
Anyone who can fully grasp the implications of points 2 and 4, and is willing to apply them actively, is on the way to successful evangelism in their local parish….
The following statistics on recruited membership are generally accepted by Church analysts in North America. Typically, members of any parish have joined their church because of:
•Visitations (by priest or member of parish) 1-2 %
•Walked in off the street 2- 3 %
•Special need met by parish 2-3 %
•Program offered by parish 3-4 %
•Sunday School 3-5 %
•Clergy 3-5%
•“Crusade” .001 %
•A relative or friend 70-90 %
Throughout the New Testament, it is assumed that the primary mode of Church growth is evangelism. Sometimes individuals from native Orthodox cultures lose sight of this reality because of their native situation. There are only three means whereby people become members of parishes: birth, transfer, and evangelism. Christian parenting cannot be expected to be the process by which the entire world becomes Christian. Likewise, transfer of membership to a “new” parish means that an “old” parish has lost a member, so the process is a “wash.” The icon or image that we are given to imitate is that of evangelism, the draught of fishes, the making of disciples. Individuals who hear the Gospel are expected to proclaim the Gospel.
—from the Orthodox Church in America’s Department of Evangelization

h/t Fr. Matthew

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