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Guiding Principles of Orthodox Christian Evangelization

“God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17)

  • All aspects of evangelization emulate the mission of Jesus Christ to the world, who came “not to be served, but to serve.” (Matthew 20:28)

  • Evangelization is foundational to Orthodox Christian life.

  • The ultimate purpose of all evangelization is to humbly and respectfully assist others(Orthodox and non-Orthodox) to participate in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

  • The Orthodox way of sanctification is the gift of God to all people and nations.

  • The Holy Spirit, like the wind, “blows where He wills” (the Holy Spirit is a person) revealing surprising, even shocking manifestations of God in unexpected places.

  • Every parish should have a line item in the budget generously funding evangelization.

  • The wellbeing of every curious visitor, inquirer, scoffer and reviler will be of utmost concern to those engaged in evangelization.

  • Evangelization is devoid of manipulation, coercion or any guilt-inducing or shaming tactics.

  • Evangelization honors the free will of every person, just as God voluntarily restrains Himself to honor our free will.

  • Evangelization workers accept that every person, even those seemingly very far from Orthodox life, have lessons to teach and knowledge to impart from their own journey.

  • Evangelization is more about engaged listening and service than it is intellectual debate or efforts to convince others of their erroneous beliefs and sinful ways.

  • An important aspect of evangelization begins when a person or family formally becomes Orthodox: this is sensitive and loving integration into the community.

  • Appropriate confidentiality is maintained throughout the process of evangelization.

  • Evangelization staff and volunteers need not feel shy, fearful or ashamed when they personally invite others to participate in the life of the Church, remembering the encouraging words of Our Lord, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)

*Unfortunately, in common parlance the words evangelism, evangelizer and evangelization are freighted with negativity, evoking images and feelings of being coerced and manipulated by“door-knockers” and “pamphleteers” who assume the position of superior knowledge-holders talking down to the less-enlightened. It is suggested, therefore, that this holy work within the parish be called “Service Ministry” or “Hospitality Ministry”, which is accurate, honest and less ominous.


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