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becoming truly human

Responding to God with Those Who Are Joining Us

by His Grace Bishop John, from The Word Magazine, January-February 2017

Social scientists have been telling us that people are more and more interested in being spiritual, and less and less interested in following organized religion. Many want to have a relationship with god, but on their own terms. They want lots of nice feelings, assurance of some kind of salvation and a comfort in an enlightenment that they can control. In such a system, every one chooses how to be spiritual and makes up the rules.

Christian societies seem to have begun with a faith tradition based on Christ's Incarnation, which joined God and man, and developed into fractured and multiple churches with choices, and then to an individualized religion, in which everyone picks and chooses what to believe. At this stage, human beings attempt to dictate to God the "rules of engagement." How ironic it is that this development brought people back to what Christians call the original sin of Adam: that is, Adam choosing to be equal to God and needing no one greater than himself! From my vantage point, this is no development, but a great regression.

Florida Priest Sees Outreach Program Grow in Depth and Numbers

By Fr. Michael Byars, Holy Cross Orthodox Church, Ormond Beach, FL

For many years I have felt that in my parish, and in Orthodox Christian parishes in general, there is a need for an evangelism program that is more than simply posting the time of our services and asking parishioners to invite friends to the liturgy. The Divine Liturgy is definitely very powerful and full of the Grace of God. However, I think that most of our parishioners hesitate to invite others to come to an Orthodox Liturgy without laying some ground work that they often do not feel equipped to do. I also suspect that the liturgical services of our church would be even more effective if there were some way to give solid introduction ahead of time.

My experience with evangelism programs, however, has not been positive. I think this is because the focus or the motives of these programs have been wrong. The focus most often seems to be on numbers and the motive often is church growth for the sake of filling the church pews, or even worse, increasing church revenues. I believe true Christian evangelism should be motivated out of love and the desire to share the true life giving Christian faith. We have this treasure in the Orthodox Church. I have thought that it would be great to have a structured evangelism program with this approach. When I was introduced to The Becoming Truly Human Program it immediately attracted my enthusiasm first of all because this program is exactly that.

An Introduction to Becoming Truly Human from Metropolitan Joseph

April 30, 2015

Christ is Risen! Truly, He is Risen!

For us, Orthodox Christians, this joyful proclamation of Pascha both gives meaning to our present lives and points us to the eternal joy of our own resurrection.

In our exuberance, it is easy to forget that most of our neighbors, co-workers and fellow citizens have no idea that this joy is even a possibility for them. While a great majority of Americans state their religion as Christian, only a small percentage of these self-proclaimed Christians attend a church on a regular basis. Our parish and mission cities are filled with both lapsed Christians and those who don't believe in Christ.

You have heard me, as your Metropolitan, state on many occasions that we must work together to spread the beautiful faith that is Orthodoxy. Can we truly say we are fi lled with the joy of the Resurrection, but find a way to keep it to ourselves? By no means!

For this reason, I have directed the program "Becoming Truly Human" be established, so that our churches would be equipped to share the Orthodox faith effectively. Already, over forty of our parishes are in the process of running it. We want people who otherwise might have no meaningful contact with our Church to be given the opportunity to "Come and see," as the earliest Christians said to their neighbors, inviting them to know Christ. 

It is my hope that all of our communities would participate in this effort. You can begin by contacting the "Becoming Truly Human" program coordinator, Adam Roberts, adamr@antiochian.org (615-971-0000) or the program consultant, Fr. Michael Nasser, frmichaeln@gmail.com (270-823-3371).

How Do We Define Success?

by His Grace Bishop John, from the June 2015 issue of The Word

How do we define success? How do we know when our parish is succeeding? How do we evaluate the ministry of your parish? How do we know we are doing what God wants us to be doing?

For answers to these and similar questions, stay tuned to this edition of The WORD, where I hope to offer some articles, solutions, and even more questions!

Who are we? What is our mission? What are our values? What are we doing with what we know?

We are God's own people, His holy nation, ordained in our baptism to bring the world to God and God to His world. Our mission is to love the Lord our God with our whole mind, being and soul, to share His love, taking care of His people, and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. What we value is sharing in God's life, free of temptation, bad choices and sin. What we are doing is gathering together in God's name, preparing and fortifying each other to be successful in our mission. We are opening God's house to all the people whom God calls our neighbor.

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