One of the best opportunities to share about the Orthodox Faith is during the annual festival, when they are already on your campus. Countless people have had their first exposure to Orthodoxy at a church festival, and many have become Orthodox as a result of a great church tour.
The best witness is to serve one another with joy throughout the festival and give a warm welcome to each guest. Here are a few additional ideas:
- Church Tours – Make a standardized outline for tour content, include 5-10 minute choir concerts, and leave time for questions. Consider training lay people to help with the tours and offer them as often as is appropriate for the size of your crowd. Announce tour start times over the sound system.
- Bookstore – Put your bookstore front and center and create a display of introductory titles. If your bookstore is located in an out-of-the-way part of the church campus, consider creating a smaller satellite bookstore next to the token booth.
- Choir Concerts – Give your visitors a taste of Orthodox worship. Ask your choir or chanters to prepare 3-5 selections to sing at the end of each tour or at specified times throughout the day. Capitalize on local talent by inviting a local chant group or another parish’s choir to give a concert.
- Introductory Videos – There are an increasing number of introductory videos now available (by Frederica Matthews Green, Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, and Fr. Barnabas Powell, to name a few) that can be set up to play in the narthex or church between tours.
- Liturgical Arts Exhibits and Demonstrations – Invite an iconographer to do demonstrations and find a place to display hand-painted icons and liturgical vestments.
- Displays – Post parishioner articles about their Journeys to Orthodoxy, a Timeline of Church History and other introductory materials. Have a selection of free brochures available.
- Inquirers’ Class – Advertise an upcoming class, strategically scheduled 1-2 weeks after the festival.
- Capturing Visitor Information – If you keep a guest book during the festival, make sure to follow up with a phone call, e-mail or postcard within a week afterwards, thanking each guest for attending.
Is your festival not held on the church property? Several parishes have creatively learned to share about Orthodoxy off-campus. You can wear t-shirts or name badges that identify you as Orthodox Christians. Some parishes set up mobile chapels and bookstores. You can use a banner to encourage people to “Find their Spiritual Home” at your parish, advertise Inquirers classes, and invite people to visit on a Sunday.
Keep in mind that many festival attendees are not locals and you may not see them again at your church. Your efforts to share the Orthodox Faith, however, may plant a seed in their heart and another parish community may be there to help them along their journey into the Church. It follows that as each parish develops this aspect of their festival, every parish will begin to see the fruit of festival outreach.