C.O.M.E. is always on the lookout for success stories from mission-minded parishes about how to spread the Gospel and grow Orthodox Christianity. One of the ways that we share these is through our ever-expanding Inspiration List, available for download here..
In the same spirit, a handy reference for priests and lay leaders alike was recently published by Adam Lowell Roberts. His book, 100 Natural Ways to Grow a Church, is available at Amazon.com. Roberts offers an explanatory paragraph for each project and organizes them into chapters, based on the time required for implementation: 1-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-12 months, or 1-5 years. He includes information about number of volunteers required, implementation costs and ongoing costs. The appendix offers supporting documents and information for some of the projects.
One of the best features of the book is that for many projects, Roberts references a parish where the idea came from and details about how it was successfully implemented. For example, we learn about an Alaskan parish’s weekly Family Nights and a parish in Louisiana that offers a weekly TV show on their local access channel. Other suggestions include running Orthodoxy 101 classes, hosting a public seminar, speaker event or St. Nicholas party, renewing the parish website, starting a lending library, and organizing a men’s group.
Sure, some of the projects listed sound relatively basic to many parishes, such as providing Sunday School and service books. Even so, a fresh and objective voice can give the basics just the right perspective to call us to action. For example, entries #10 Clean Restrooms and #11 Coffee Hour, speak to showing Christian hospitality through cleanliness and tasty coffee. Most of our parishes believe in this, but these entries can inspire us to check our systems to make sure guests are experiencing our very best.
Adam Lowell Roberts lives with his wife and children in Tennessee and works full-time for the Antiochian Archdiocese developing a unique program for personal evangelism, called Becoming Truly Human. In 2015 the program was launched and tested in over thirty parishes and this summer Becoming Truly Human is due to release a new and improved version of their materials. Roberts also has an Ancient Faith Radio podcast entitled Go Forth, and recently launched an online dating ministry, Orthodox and Single. You can read more about him and his ministry at www.adamlowellroberts.com.