On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 143: An Inviting Church (4/23/17)

“Come and See.” (John 1:39 RSV)

As Orthodox, we have one of the greatest gifts that God can bestow upon us, our Orthodox faith.  As members of the body of Christ, we are commanded to use our gifts to further our journey to Theosis as well as using those gifts to help and support other members of the body of Christ on their journey.  This includes reaching out to those who have yet to begin their journey or have become “stuck in a rut.”

Are you an inviting parish?  Do you set an environment that will make visitors feel welcome and desire to return?  Do you have an invitational culture in your parishes?  If not, why not?

In a recent Gallup poll, the question was asked, “In the last month, I invited someone to participate in a parish service or function.”  The results showed that 23% responded that they strongly agree with that statement, and 15 % agreed with it.  So, 38% have invited somebody to the parish in the last month.  If we asked that same question in our parishes, what would the result be?

In the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 19) Christ commands us to spread the good news to the world.  He gives us the power to do this, so the first thing we must understand in developing an inviting culture is that it is God who gives growth to our parishes.  We are responsible for using our gifts and inviting people, but we are not responsible for the responses we receive.  Gallup poll also shows that it takes asking a person five times before getting a positive response to the invitation.  So yes, you will hear “no” much more often than “yes.”  That is okay; our job is to plant the seed and let the Holy Spirit do its work.  With that knowledge, we should not fear rejection!  The person who receives the most “no” answers ultimately is also the one who receives the most “yes” responses.

The truth is, in my humble opinion, that many parishioners would love to share the gift of Orthodoxy with friends, relatives, and neighbors but do not know how to invite them.  They fear being considered odd, creating discomfort in the relationship or being considered “one of those people.”  We need to bring this fear to our prayers and hear God telling us, “Do not be afraid.”  We are doing His work, He sent us so why should we have fear?

The key is to be natural.  Look to the Gospel, Andrew in a natural conversation brings Peter to Jesus, and Philip says to Nathaniel, “come and see.”  If you are thankful for the gift of Orthodoxy, don’t be fearful of asking others to “come and see.”

Can you only imagine that if 38% of our parishioners used their God-given talents and love for Orthodoxy to invite one person, once a month, that would mean, each month we would see 1540 visitors to our Diocesan parishes.  The numbers are astonishing.  If even one-quarter of those are touched and continue their journey in Orthodoxy that is potentially 385 catechumens each month in the Diocese.

Use the gifts God has gifted you to be Stewards of the Church and to help bring others to the greatest gift God gave us, ORTHODOXY!

 This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.

Mark Your Calendar Now for the 2nd annual Stewardship Retreat will be held September 22-24, 2017.

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