We’re back on the West Coast after Missions Week at Hellenic College/Holy Cross, October 26-30th. While in Boston, we participated in an inspiring conference entitled “Speaking to Secular America,” presented by the HCHC Missions Institute.
This week we’re sharing some of the specific opportunities Fr. John Parker, Chair of the OCA Department of Evangelization, named in his presentation on “Inspiring the Apathetic and Reaching out to the Nones and Dones.” After exploring who the nones and dones are and some of the reasons why they are religiously unaffiliated, Fr. Parker offered the following suggestions for evangelistic outreach to 1) those who are coming onto our parish campuses and 2) those we must go out and invite.
- “Jumping into our Boat” – Are we ready to introduce Orthodoxy to visitors already coming to our campuses?
- The Festival – Many priests only wish they had 10-15,000 people paying to come to their campuses! Ideally “festivals should not be held to meet the parish’s bottom line, but to introduce people to the Orthodox Church, ” said Fr. Parker.
- Funerals – The funeral homily is an evangelistic opportunity.
- Weddings (& Baptisms) – Many of the guests are “nones” and “dones.”
- Houseblessings – Instead of a 5-minute stop by the priest, parishioners could host dinners, invite non-Orthodox family, neighbors and friends, and ask the priest to speak briefly about the meaning of the blessing.
- “Being Fishers of Men”
- Talks on Tap – Offer to be one of the speakers at informal talks given at local pubs or cafes. Many cities have a Talks on Tap or similar series.
- Newspaper Articles – Write essays for the local newspaper or request coverage for special parish events. Examples include the annual blessing of the waters, festival or St. Nicholas program.
- Jail/Prison Ministry – The fastest growing religion in our prisons is Islam. Prison ministry is not going to contribute to the bottom line, but we have to put that aside when the goal of our work is to bring souls to Christ. Explore how to get involved through Orthodox Prison Ministry.
- Host 12-Step Meetings for Alcoholics Anonymous or another healing/recovery group in your parish hall.
The HCHC Missions Institute plans to present the text and recordings from each presentation given at the conference soon. We will share the links here when they are available.
Fr. John Parker is the pastor of Holy Ascension Orthodox Church (OCA) in Charleston, South Carolina and the Chair of the OCA Department of Evangelization. His podcast, Lord, Send Me, is available on Ancient Faith Radio.