orthodox mission

edited July 2014 in Faith Issues
this is so we don't derail the other thread talking about this!
i don't think we should call some churches 'mission churches' as it takes the focus away from the fact that we should all share our faith.
so far we don't have this concept in the uk, and i hope we don't go in this direction.
there is room for all of us to both help new immigrants who don't speak english (or the country's language, for european churches) 
and to bring those in from outside who are missing the richness and depth of orthodox Christianity.


  • Mission Church Canon 101: Have a 4-letter abbreviation for your church. It attracts people :P



  • Do you guys think its right/a good idea if an already established church with many Egyptians tried to turn into one of these missionary churches
  • From what I understand, some mission churches, like SMSV, seem to be "crypto-Protestant".  There is a right way and wrong way of doing mission, and from what I hear, SMSV is going the wrong direction, at least it's become the poster child of wrong mission.

    I do believe that all churches, even with many Egyptians should be on a "mission".  Unfortunately, parishes like SMSV are formed because some Egyptians are not open to have non-Egyptians in the parish.  So I believe there is fault to go around mutually on this issue.
  • EsmoEpchois do you mean missionary in that the Church would speak truth, love and sound teaching and that by being love incarnate would transfigure the neighbourhood and pray for the life of the world?

    Like Sayedna says:

    "The aim of mission can't be anything less than the deification, unification and reconciliation of all churches and the whole world into the unity of the measure and the stature of the fullness of Christ. It is not humanization or socialization but divinization, which is social transformation in the model of Holy Trinity, which may be called Trinification. The aim of mission is not only Theosis but along with it the establishment of the Kingdom of God.”

    Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Osthathiose. “Sharing God and a Sharing World” (India: ISPCK & CSS, 1995) 150-152.

    Or Early Second Century Literature: Letter of Diognetus


  • I mean missionary as in non culturally barriered lol I do believe every church is a missionary church, and actually I feel as many churches are very successful in their outreach and missionary missions(at least in the North East US). And when I think of "missionary church" I think of STSA, Fr. Anthony Messeh who I like to think is doing it in a very orthodox way, I guess unlike what Minasolimon said above about SMSV but I don't know either church too well, those are just my views from the outside
  • I'm afraid he too is under a lot of criticism for the way he does his mission as well.

    I do share these accounts from second hand experience of others, but I have personally not been to any of these churches.  I've been to one mission church that I was well-pleased in, St. Paul's Church in Tustin, CA.
  • People are always going to criticize, doesn't mean its wrong. I also haven't been but my church went to DC for a retreat and visited STSA and they thought it was great. They don't leave anything out of the liturgy, they just do it in English. Also another thing I liked, which I'm sure other churches do but they said the prayer before communion aloud all together. Thought that was neat.

    His Grace Bishop David speaks(/spoke at a retreat) very highly of Fr. Anthony, and I think that's enough confirmation for me that what he's doing is fine.
  • edited July 2014
    So what you're all saying is...




    or maybe...


    :P :P :P

    All joking aside I think all our Abounas need prayers and many of them are doing their best to help their Churches in the best way they know and with whatever resources they have. It is sometimes tragic that we haven't been inspired by the missionary work of the other Orthodox (Eastern and Oriental) and Roman Catholics in the same way that we have with other sources. Perhaps we're still learning what it means to be missionary post-Islam...maybe the yoke of Islam has introduced a bit of triumphalism and the concept of conquest...perhaps seeing the other Orthodox as a foreign ethnic Church has led to our rejection of their experiences for the feel-good easy to consume contemporary experiences...

    That being said our Abounas work and their desire to care for the youth and to risk much for the sake of love is very very commendable. Their work is also very difficult and I think as EsmoEpchois has said every one of our Abounas is trying to share our Orthodox Faith with those who do not know it. May we all work together as the Church and encourage all to higher and deeper things revealed in the Divine Life of the Holy Trinity. 

    "In short we may say with all clarity that the power that would result from unity of the churches is a power to evangelize the world without a word being spoken or a voice being raised: “There is no speech, nor are there words… yet their voice goes out to the end of the world” (Ps. 19:3-4). In this respect the churches have been very feeble even until now. In the past they have wanted to use Christ’s words to reveal themselves to the world, but in the divine mystical union which Christ prayed for, the churches will reveal Christ himself to the world through their unity in divine love. Unity will be fulfilled and will take place through the death of the ego of each church, in order that Christ’s self may live in them all." 

    minasoliman, the observation about everyone being responsible is very interesting, and I wonder if the whole language thing has also polarized the issue more or if rigid/fundamentalist application of Orthodox life has now driven people to see Christianity as something other than Orthodoxy....
  • edited July 2014
    Sometimes we also tend to see Mission as activity....as doing...as numbers...as feel good experience...as social service that ends when my last sandwich is given out...or some anxious fulfillment of a moral checklist...

    Perhaps we have yet to embrace kenosis in mission...I know I personally lack the conviction or the strength to do so...so perhaps praying for all our abounas and those engaged in missionary work is might be more prudent....

    "Blessed are those who can see the radiance of the glory of God in the patient participation in the sufferings of human­ity; in the poverty of the poor of this world, in the weakness of the weak, in the thirst for justice; in partaking freely in the pain and the sufferings of others with genuine selfless love. The decisively new in the love which Christ revealed is not to "love one another," but primarily what follows: "as I have loved you," that is, with selflessness, with fullness, with re­spect for human freedom, and with all the consequential di­mensions of suffering. "The gospel of the glory of Christ" (2 Cor 4:4) constantly calls us back in line, placing us before the harsh and demanding form of the glory of the Cross. Thus the doxological stance and way of life does not mean a hymnological escape into some closed idyllic environment. Rather, it means a universal openness, participation in the prob­lems of the whole of humanity, particularly those of the humble and the wronged. It means to stand by in defense and support for all; it is an uninterrupted breath and radiance of the fire of the Holy Spirit. Directly connected with the meanings of "light" and "power," the "glory of God" expresses something particularly dynamic. The surprising and brilliantly shining lives of the Saints reflect such a living doxology of the humility and the love of Christ, preserving a missionary conviction that is timely for every person, every age, and every society." 

    Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, Mission in the Way of Christ, http://www.amazon.com/Mission-Christs-Way-Orthodox-Understanding/dp/1935317075

    and also "Orthodox Perspectives on Mission" (there's a really good essay by Fr Ion Bria called "The Liturgy after the Liturgy")

  • My problem with "mission churchs" is twofold. 

    1) Often times, they are merely rebel churches that do anything to steer away from Orthodox tradition under the false and foolish impression of gaining souls to Christ. Minasoliman, the church you reference is spot on. I have had many a discussion with the Pastor of that church, and mine and his ideologies are as opposed as Christ has removed our sin from us. I have however, come in contact with priests who work specifically with American converts. Excellent priests. But they don't attract the crowd that a 4 letter acronymed church will garner. B

    2) Church and Christianity is mission. If we have to separate the church into Mission vs. Non-Mission, then clearly the Non-Mission church isn't doing its job. Now, if we are talking honestly, its because of our culture that this problem happens. We (foolishly) idolize the Egyptian/Arabic culture making our churches terrible at reaching out. Why are we still reading the readings in Arabic? Singing Arabic Hymns? Preaching in Arabic. If we use English, and stop being self absorbed in our Egyptian Culture, and stop being so blindly against all things "white," then we can fulfill the job of the church: Mission. Then every church is a "mission church." 

    Tell Christ as he passes the church to his apostles that were gonna have two different types of churches. Mission and non-mission. Lets imagine Jesus' response. 

    Lord Have Mercy. 

  • edited July 2014
    Hi ReturnOrthodoxy these are very good points about mission. Isn't the job of the Church to make us the Body of Christ? To heal, to transform us, to restore us to Beauty, to make saints, to make us truly human ie. Deification?

    Sometimes I wonder if suppressing the teaching about this "goal" and "purpose" has led to the focus on mission as activity or focus on activities that show our growth and success? Or maybe activities that encourage good feelings or the popularity of touchy-feely concepts of Christianity?

    “When theology is false, then Christianity is reduced to activities.”
    Fr. John S. Romanides

    "Nowadays, especially in the U.S., the Church is perceived as an enterprise, an activity. The priest constantly harasses people to do something for the Church. And their activism is measured in quantitative criteria: how many meetings, how much money, how much “doing.” I’m not sure it is all necessary. What is dangerous is not the activity itself, but the reduction of the Church, the identification of this activity with life in the Church. The idea of the Church, the sacramental principle of its life, lies in taking us away from activity (“let us put aside all earthly cares”), in making us commune with a new life, eternity, the Kingdom. And the idea of the Church, the principle of its life, also demands that we would bring into the world this experience of a new life so that we would purify this world, illumine it with the non-worldliness of the experience of the Church. Quite often the opposite happens: we bring activism into the Church, the fuss of this world, and submit the Church, poison its life with this incessant fuss. What happens is not that life becomes Church, but the Church becomes worldly."
    Fr Alexander Schmemann, Journals, Thursday, February 18, 1982

    "A group of Orthodox seminarians came to visit the mission...One of them very upset commented that there is no point in what the mission was doing, unless we made people became Orthodox. Later reflecting on this father commented that this future priest difficulty comes from "his anthropology. It is not patristic." God's love for us humans has no agenda. What a privilege it is that we love and exist in the same way God does."
    Memories from an Orthodox Urban Mission

    "The first thing that must be said about acquiring this spirit of service is that it will not happen by simply reading about Christ’s acts of service in the Gospel and trying, with no preparation, to imitate Him. The fact of the matter is that the Lord did not simply perform acts of service; rather, His deeds of love flowed naturally from His gracious character. His deeds reveal His identity. If we try to analyze the activity of Christ in the Gospel with a view to implementing a programme of Christ-like service to others, we will fail. Acts of service that do not have their origin in a gracious character are not credible and are often undertaken for the wrong reasons. Unfortunately, the wounded human heart is capable of sin even in performing good deeds if it is not being purified, enlightened and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. We come face to face with a fundamental problem: we cannot act as Christ acts through observation and implementation alone. We cannot acquire the spirit of service as we would a skill or a discipline. We must instead receive Christ’s life and then struggle to allow His character to emerge in us. This is why the Orthodox Church carefully distinguishes between the imitation of Christ and the life in Christ. The former allows us to learn about Christianity; the latter allows us to become Christians."
    Fr Maxym Lysack, Serving Through Outreach

    "We are taught that we must seek success individually, for we are in a society where we must compete, or die. This means that we are obsessed by efficacity, by work and by recognition. We want to be recognized, not necessarily for the value of what we are doing, but rather to be promoted. This is success. Success is evaluated in money and power. This is what we are continually being taught right from childhood. Thus, in every field, we are all pushed by the sense of promotion. We must get on, must have success, power and riches....

    We...have the cult of liberty and of liberalism, with some innate and phobic fear of anything that might smell of socialism and of community in the larger sense. We are told that we must have the signs of success in the quality of our houses, cars and various other ornaments or furniture inside our houses. The whole aspect of prestige and recognition by the neighbours is very, very fundamental in our society which has pushed us to a very individualized culture.

    It follows that very quickly the family is fragmented. What I mean by a fragmented family is that old people must be put in old people's homes; mentally handicapped people must have their own residences and physically handicapped people must too. Delinquents must have their place also. All those who are the marginal ones are categorically placed together in residences where necessary specialists can be hired to provide programs to govern their existence, and this permits the nuclear family, husband, wife and two children just to be together about their business.

    The children of the family are taken up with children's activities, clubs and youth movements. The wife can join a bridge club, take a part time job or do volunteer work at the local hospital or for meals on wheels. The husband frequently becomes obsessed by this idea of promotion which is very deeply ingrained. He must go up the ladder or he just might go down, and this can be very serious, particularly when they have bought a lot on credit without any money. What if he should lose his job? So, he has to become a slave to the system because everything has been bought before he had the money. Sometimes the husband and wife will be so divided in their activities that there is an even greater fragmentation....We are taken up in a world of activities; we have to do and we have forgotten how to be. And because we are always doing, we get into a vicious circle, with the result that relationships begin to break down....

    When there is despair, I begin to throw myself into activity in order to forget my pain. I do and I do and I do and one day, I retire. Then, having nothing to do, I fall sick. This is the story of many people who are caught up in the world of doing, because in reality, to do, can be to flee. Doing should flow from my being, but frequently I do, because I am frightened that I do not really exist sufficiently. Maybe in this world of intense noise, I am running away. Maybe I'm terribly frightened of silence, frightened because in silence I meet myself, and I confront myself. Maybe also in the silence I meet my God.'"

    Jean Vanier, Excerpts from Monograph No. 4: Learn to Live. Edited by Sue Mosteller. (Richmond Hill: Daybreak Publications/PrintOne, 1978)
  • Well, from what I understand about Abouna Anthony, HG Bishop Suriel publicly on facebook criticized how one of his sermons were word-for-word coming from a Reformed Pastor. If that is true, doesn't one think that perhaps the criticism against Abouna Anthony has some truth to it?  How long do we continue to take inspiration from non-Orthodox?  From what I can remember, years ago, Abouna used "Purpose-Driven Life" in his lectures.  Why?  Why use a prosperity gospel book in an Orthodox Church?

    These are indications of a priest who is uneducated in the faith, and he has a great gift, if he can just take the time to learn more about the Church.  When sister churches listened to him speak, they really were taken aback at how unOrthodox his speech was.  It was quite an embarrassment.

    I hope I am wrong.  Because it leaves me with no easy feeling to call this to one's attention, especially when he has such a huge following.  But as a priest, you have a particular image and reputation you must maintain.  Why scandalize the people with such sources of your teaching?

    PS  Lillian Trasher is actually quite an exemplary woman.  Theology aside, her service from what I read is something to learn from.
  • edited July 2014
    Hi minasoliman that's a good point about Lilian Thrasher, works of mercy of the like can sometimes reveal the kenosis and love that suffers much. Memory Eternal.

    Recently on CNN there was a very fascinating segment on al-Noor Orphanage in Iraq that echoes a similar kind of compassion.


    It is very inspiring and humbling since such love can be very human and very divine. They can break down all our boxes and categories.

    Maybe in the mystery of compassion we often see glimpses of the majesty of love and hope which I hope is kerygmatic and deeply Orthodox.

    St Teresa of Calcutta, Lilian Thrasher, Damian of Hawaii, Jean Vanier, Mother Gabriella of India, Mama Maggi, St Maria of Paris, Liqaa Al Aboudi all seem to resonate with Kenosis and healing. May God preserve and magnify the saints and manifest all His wonders in them.

    "The poor are our masters"
    St John the Merciful

    "Do you want to honor Christ’s body? Do not neglect him when he is naked; do not, while you honor him here with silken garments, neglect Him perishing outside of cold and nakedness. For He that said “This is my body,” and by His word confirmed the fact, also said, “You saw me hungry and you did not feed me” and “Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.” This [the body of Christ on the altar] has no need of coverings, but of a pure soul; but that requires much attention. Let us learn therefore to be strict in life, and to honor Christ as He Himself desires….

    For what is the profit, when His table indeed is full of golden cups, but He perishes with hunger? First fill Him, being hungry, and then abundantly deck out His table also. Do you make for Him a cup of gold, while you refuse to give him a cup of cold water? And what is the profit? Do you furnish His table with cloths bespangled with gold, while you refuse Him even the most basic coverings? And what good comes of it?

    And these things I say, not forbidding munificence in these matters, but admonishing you to do those other works, together with these, or rather even before these. Because for not having adorned the church no one was ever blamed, but for not having helped the poor, hell is threatened, and unquenchable fire, and the punishment of evil spirits. Do not therefore while adorning His house overlook your brother in distress, for he is more properly a temple than the other."
    St John Chrysostom

    "Houses of hospitality must be built for the poor in every city of every diocese"
    Canon LXX of The Captions of the Arabic Canons Attributed to the Council of Nicea.
  • And also to balance out the above statements:

    "Unless you love, the poor will never forgive you for the bread you give them."  
    St. Vincent de Paul, quoted in Fr Walter J. Burghardt's "Love is a Flame of the Lord: More Homilies on the Just Word" (Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1995) 139.

    “You will find that charity is a heavy burden to carry, heavier than the bowl of soup and the full basket. But you will keep your gentleness and your smile. It is not enough to give bread and soup. This the rich can do. You are the servant of the poor... They are your masters, and the more difficult they will be, the unjust and insulting, the more love you must give them. It is for your love alone that the poor will forgive you the bread you give them.”
    St Vincent de Paul, quoted in Homelessness in America : A Forced March to Nowhere (1982), p. 121

    “We should make every effort to ensure that each of our initiatives is the common work of all those who stand in need of it,” she wrote, “and not [simply part of] some charitable organization, where some perform charitable actions and are accountable for it to their superiors while others receive the charity, make way for those who are next in line, and disappear from view. We must cultivate a communal organization rather than set up a mechanical organization, Our concept of sobornost [conciliarity] commits us to this. At the same time we are committed to the personal principle in the sense that absolutely no one can become for us a routine cipher, whose role in to swell statistical tables. I would say that we should not give away a single piece of bread unless the recipient means something as a person for us.”
    St Maria of Paris (Mother Maria Skobtsova)

    "For the most part, when we hear about performing a “work of mercy” we think of giving a needy person our extra jacket or a hot cup of soup and slice of bread, and if we’re courageous, we might even add in a mattress for the night. Materially speaking, the poor need the help of the rich who live with excess and secure rest night after night, having their physical needs met—indeed, often over-met. There can be no argument about what to do for the person who is cold and unprotected on the street on a wintry night. There can be no argument about providing the mother, trying to raise five children in the shelter system, with food and clothing. We must always be ready to provide on this material, survival level for those in need. For this, we need to be in a constant state of prayer, and to practice mindfulness....Let us fight to keep engaged and open to the fruits of this work. For this work, we have to be brave hearts and fearless warriors. To work with the poor, we have to be willing to value pain, to claim it as an asset, and to experience it as Christ-centered and God-given. Through the gate of pain we can enter into the deep waters of experience with others and reach for the shore of love." 
    Julia Demaree, Emmaus House of Harlem

  • And here's a nice quote by Mother Gabriella

    "Once when I was there where I was, some foreign missionary came and said to me, "You may be a good woman, but you’re not a good Christian."

    I said, "Why?"

    "Because you have been here so long and you only go about speaking English. What local languages have you learned?"

    I said to him, "I haven’t managed to learn any of the local languages, because I travel a great deal from place to place. As soon as I learn one dialect, they start speaking another. I've only learned 'Good morning' and 'Good evening.' Nothing else."

    "Bah, you're no Christian. How can you evangelize? All the Catholics and Protestants learn all the local dialects in order to..."

    Then I said, "Lord, give me an answer for him." I asked it with all my heart, and then I said, "Ah. I forgot to tell you. I know five languages."

    "Really? What are these five?"

    "The first is the smile; the second is tears. The third is to touch. The fourth is prayer, and the fifth is love. With these five languages I go all around the world."

    Then he stopped and said, "Just a minute. Say that again so I can write it down."

    With these five languages you can travel the whole earth, and all the world is yours. Love everyone as your own--without concern for religion or race, without concern for anything.

    Everywhere are people of God. You never know if the one you see today might tomorrow be a saint."

    And here's one by Metropolitan Anthony

    "We do not try to win people over to Orthodoxy, but we are a missionary Church in the sense that we believe with all our hearts that Orthodoxy is infinitely precious, is capable of bringing joy and vision to people both of things divine and of human relationships and of our total attitude to the created world, and we want to share it - whether people become Orthodox technically or not is something which is secondary to us. What matters to us is that they should become partakers of this exulting joy and wonder which Orthodoxy is. So what we should do is to be a presence that is convincing; that is, looking at us people should see on our faces, in our eyes, in our behaviour, a dimension of wonder, joy and also of a sincere and sober desire to serve; and a disciplined mind and heart capable if serving faithfully whomever is in need if being served. And I think that if we became even a small light - if we became nothing but a handful if salt that prevents corruption- if we could bring a little hope to the hearts of people who have lost all hope, a little faith in the sense of trust and faithfulness and knowledge of God,  a little love, we would be fulfilling our vocation. This is what we should bring, each of us perhaps a crumb, all of us we possess, and express this in the readiness to give without asking any return."
    HE Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, from Gilligan Crow's 'A Man of Vision'  (New York: SVS Press, 2005) 158-159

    And one by Fr. K.M. George of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in India:

    "The saint prays and receives the creation of God with hospitality. The [crusading] missionary preaches and offers, often aggressively, in order to give...The world, however, is healed and transfigured more by the praying saint than by the thundering preachers. It is the saint, who manifesting God's tender love and receiving all creatures in divine hospitality, is genuinely sensitive to the riches of other religions, to different cultures, to 'all sentient beings'. The crusading missionary is afire with the message he proclaims, but can be totally lacking in receptivity and sensitivity... Today we need to combine in our experience of our church the true saint and the genuine missionary whose sole concern is manifesting the kingdom and not annexing new territories."
    Fr. K.M. George

    And a few other quotes:

    "Inculturation is only possible when the evangelist knows the Orthodox tradition and can therefore discern what is and what is not compatible with it. Inculturation is the planting of the gospel, the seed, the presence of Christ, in the unique soil of new culture, and allowing it, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to mature at its own pace, to produce ultimately a new, indigenous church." 
    Fr Michael J. Oleska, Evangelism and Culture, http://www.fatheroleksa.org/

    "Our task is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit (St Seraphim), our task is the working out of our salvation, our task is to repent and weep for our sins, our task is to enter the Kingdom of God. This more than anything else is what we must do. This is an evangelistic task - indeed the primary evangelistic task....Orthodox evangelism must center on the Church - the beauty of the building, the beauty of the services, the frequency and availability of the services...We don't have to preach on street corners, we don't have to have "events" or revivals or seminars as evangelistic tools - we simply have to be Orthodox Christians "to the max" without reservation or compromise. That is Orthodox evangelism."

    "One must LIVE the life of a Christian before others—this does more than all preaching, teaching and evangelization.  Pray for them and live the true Christian life before them, then let God affect them, if He wills."
    Mother Theoliptie amma Demiana, Egypt

    "Orthodox mission consists in giving the treasure we have, and leaving the other to decide whether he will take it or not. If the other wants to join the Orthodox Church, you will never say "No." Our aim is to transmit the tradition of the Gospel in all its fullness, remaining free from any anxiety to convert anyone. You cannot impose on anyone's freedom. You are there, you give your witness; you are a candle, lighted by paschal joy, and if the other wishes to take from your flame, then of course, you will not refuse him."
  • @minasoliman

    "When sister churches listened to him speak, they really were taken aback at how unOrthodox his speech was. It was quite an embarrassment."

    Could you please elaborate?
  • There was one of those annual Oriental Orthodox conferences, and there were even EOs present.  I kid you not, some OOs I've talked to felt uneasy with his speech.  It sounded to them like a Joel Osteen meeting, plain and simple.
  • edited July 2014
    The ONE Conference? It's such a wonderful initiative. I hope it didn't scare the sister Churches :P

  • In 2012, Fr John Behr spoke.

    CYCnow did some strange editing to make his talk split into episodes and put a huge watermark :S :P

  • Mina can you give some examples of what you mean by his sermons sound Protestant? Not that I'm questioning I just don't know how to decipher these things
  • The problem with Abouna Antony Messeh is that he is backed by some Bishops. While Anba Suriel took the great and diligent work of his office to heart and stood against his use of heterodox sources, Bishop David has been quoted as saying, "Those who have a problem with Abouna Antony are jealous because they cannot do what he does... He always takes my permission and advice." Should not come as a surprise when I say that Bishop David's brother is the pastor of SMSV :S

    What is more interesting is that Anba David and Anba Suriel are brothers in Monasticism, and were also ordained Bishops together. More tragic than that is the fact that some people publicly criticized Anba Suriel for "judging" Abouna Antony. I thought it was the job of the Bishop to exhort against incorrect or incomplete teaching?...

    Lord have Mercy

  • Hi ReturnOrthodoxy, where were these things spoken by both Sayednas?
  • edited July 2014
    Dear EsmoEpchois,

    Take for instance the CYC lecture. Practically speaking, it's not really for a "first-grader", but it is a pluralistic lecture that can appease any religion really. I'm even astonished at how much Christ is not mentioned in the lecture. How do you know God in the same manner as knowing your own spouse? Abouna said he is no scholar so he does not know how we can "know God." Excuse me? You don't need to be a scholar to answer this question. God made Himself known through the Logos Incarnate. Furthermore, we have an example of how we "know" God just as much as Adam "knew" his wife, and that is by the Eucharist. Not one mention of Christ or the Eucharist. He made good points that in order to know someone, it is also mutual, to be known, and to do it with vulnerability. Where then is Christ in all this? Where is the Eucharist? Where is deification? For a priest, the obvious was completely missing, and for him to say "I don't know how" is strange, when he imparts to those in the church His Body and Blood.

    From what I saw, his audience was not an Orthodox Christian audience, let alone a Christian one. His audience would might as well have been Sufis, Hindus, Unitarians, etc. They too don't know how to know God, but they know to know Him rather than about Him. On the surface, the lectures look good, but it's like a good-looking wine-bottle that is empty. The bottle may be expensive, but where's the good wine?

    As Christians, we have standards, in our hymns and in our sermons. If your audience is Orthodox Christian, is expect a priest to say, "Yes, we do know how to know God, and as Orthodox Christians it is to be engrafted into the divine life in Christ by the Eucharist through the Holy Spirit, and knowing Christ, we also know the Father. For if Abouna were to say "I don't know how," Christ would answer him as he would to Phillip, "how long have you been with me, and you still do not know?" How long Abouna, have you prayed the Eucharist, and you still are not aware?

    That is how people complain. I think Abouna Anthony is a great person, but he seems to entrenched into Protestant sources he forgot how to give the higher standards of an Orthodox sermon. Anything lower than that is like a church with no sacraments, i.e. Protestant.

  • That makes sense but I feel like a lot of lectures I/we hear can appease any religion? If it can appease most religions, is that bad/non-orthodox? Also, I think his audience was actually all christian and all orthodox, it was Pan-orthodox. 

    What if the "Where then is Christ in all this? Where is the Eucharist?..." is supposed to be done on a personal level? What if he meant like here's how you know someone and it's up to you to apply that to Christ and so on? 

    Final thought: What if he doesn't know he's preaching in a protestant manner? I am starting to see that most of the teachings I have heard are protestanty in a way and I'm just starting to differentiate between a protestant sermon and orthodox sermon. So what if most of what he was taught growing up was protestanty and he's just reteaching what he learned the wrong way? 

    Sorry for all the questions lol but thank you for answering, God bless you man
  • edited July 2014
    Hi everyone, since this thread is about mission, does it really matter what material what our Abounas use or base their sermons on? If the end goal is to bring people to Christ and show them that they can have a personal relationship with God does it matter what means we use? What about people who might feel Orthodox Church too heavy shouldn't we make it more accessible for them so that they can be in the Church then get deeper when they're ready? Doesn't all that extra teaching just get in the way of a personal relationship?

    Also these sermons are popular so isn't that expanding the influence of our Church? Like our youth like this stuff and stay in the church and are more likely to suggest these sermons with their nonOrthodox friends. They do make things more easy to understand and are not just scholarly and intellectual faith right?

    Also do people really need to know all the terms and big orthodox words to be saved? Isn't it more important that the sermons be practical and personal rather than technical and theological?

    Like we're not a university so we don't really need all that high theology which just makes things complicated. We didnt have abounas in the past with theological phds and we survived so many years so we dont need to have theological abounas today. Isn't a simple practical Biblical message for the week more important and attractive?
  • edited July 2014
    Haven't we heard all our Abounas teach these essential truths? Simple is better. Taeta and Gido didn't have university and are saintly. Learning makes you proud. 
    So what if some abounas are using different material? Our Abounas are smart and very qualified and can baptize the material.They have gone through the material and if it's taught it's probably aligned with Orthodox teaching or at least doesn't contradict it.  Like don't the following quotes sound correct and logical? 

    "You may not be a Bible scholar, but you are the authority on your life, and it’s hard to argue with personal experience. Actually, your personal testimony is more effective than a sermon, because unbelievers see pastors as professional salesmen, but see you as a “satisfied customer,” so they give you more credibility. Personal stories are also easier to relate to than principles, and people love to hear them. They capture our attention, and we remember them longer. Unbelievers would probably lose interest if you started quoting theologians, but they have a natural curiosity about experiences they’ve never had. Shared stories build a relational bridge that Jesus can walk across from your heart to theirs. Another value of your testimony is that it bypasses intellectual defenses. Many people who won’t accept the authority of the Bible will listen to a humble, personal story."
    Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life

    "Would we let the crickets get by with that? Of course not! “Just because you understand the system,” we’d tell them, “that doesn’t deny the presence of someone outside the system. After all, who built it? Who installed the switch? Who diagrammed the compressor and engineered the generator?” But don’t we make the same mistake? We understand how storms are created. We map solar systems and transplant hearts. We measure the depths of the oceans and send signals to distant planets. We crickets have studied the system and are learning how it works. And, for some, the loss of mystery has led to the loss majesty. The more we know, the less we believe. Strange, don’t you think? Knowledge of the workings shouldn’t negate wonder. Knowledge should stir wonder."
    Max Lucado, In the Grip of Grace

  • edited July 2014
    Here are videos of what looks like other Orthodox Missions in North America.

    They look like they pray in English but I wonder if these Churches can be helped with some more modern worship music and by what is mentioned in the Lucado & Warren quotes above. Like where are their youth? How will they connect with all this theoretical stuff? 

    Like at least the following video shows how we're making things accessible:

    St. Paul's Coptic Orthodox Mission Church Attracts the Young

    And these two show how the Mission Churches are teaching the Bible while building community:
  • This is pathetic. We are trying to show Abouna Antony's sermons are ok because they are simple? And to give credibility to this datum, we use Rick Warren and Max Lucado? We are condoning using Protestant sources in Orthodox sermons? We are justifying dumbing down the message of the Gospel in favor of a "personal relationship" or a "personal interpretation" with God? We are justifying the spread of Protestant teaching because one person may have absorbed it in his youth? 

    Our Orthodox Church survived only because of the Eucharist. Geedo and Teta knew theology through the liturgy. They knew theology through the hymns. To say one will lose interest in God through theology neglects thousands of years of pedagogical transmission of faith. To say one comes to God through a natural curiosity bridged by personal experiences and not by theology, neglects St Paul's style of mission. Or do we now consider St Paul is not an example of missionology? 

    For the record, Bishop David and other bishops are prime exemplars of reviving hymnological customs, not benefiting "from some modern music". For example, in the ordination of our new priests, Bishop David revived the ordination rite as described by Youhanna Ibn Saba in the Precious Pearl. We can't make generalizations like that Bishop David supports Abouna Antony (implying Bishop David supports Protestantism). What he supports is the utilization of some priests to go into the field and effectively preach Orthodoxy, much like the Coptic missions in the African continent. It's really easy for all of us to condemn Bishop David, Abouna Antony and others (even calling one "pastor" is an example of attacking our clergy) for lapses in their actions and words. (Note: I don't condone any of these sermons, nor do I even condone the One conference and all of these other pseudo-cryptic mission examples). I know that even St John Chrysostom was condemned for certain lapses or maybe even for a certain style of mission. And yet, one will have a very hard time claiming St John Chrysostom is a "pastor" or remaining silent when one calls St John Chrysostom a [Protestant] "pastor".

    The only criteria we should focus on is living and becoming Christ in the sacraments and in our faith and in our daily lives. The details we keep arguing about only divide. The one constant we keep returning to is insulting God by insulting the clergy. This needs to stop. Otherwise, we are not the light of the world. We are pathetic. 
  • These are good observations Remnkemi.

    Another form of "simple is better" can be a slight variation: "Taeta and Gido don't know the hymns and they are not shamas kabeer...But they are simple and therefore saintly."

    Or "Taeta and Gido are not theologians they're simple and don't need to have all these arguments and big terms"

    But what about the question of not worrying about the means as long as the people love God? Like as long as we're bringing them to the Church it doesn't matter what material we use right? As long as the means are not sinful of course and can be identified as Christian.

This discussion has been closed.