Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Catechesis and Evangelism are not Enough

American Orthodox Institute (AOI) has published a short piece I wrote on the Pew Charitable Trust's US Religious Landscape Survey, "Catechesis and Evangelism are not Enough." I have included the first three paragraphs here. Please take a moment and read what I've written at AOI. While there, take a look at the many other, excellent and though provoking articles that are posted there.

In Christ,

+Fr. Gregory

In recent years, Orthodox Christians in the United States have become very mission minded. We see as a community the importance of bringing the Orthodox faith to what the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey published by the Pew Charitable Trust calls "the American religious marketplace." Ours is a religious age characterized by "constant movement."

Given the ease with which Americans change religious affiliations making new members is not the primary challenge. The real challenge, the Survey suggests, is retention, of actually keeping the members that we have. Our witness to the Gospel is undermined by the general lack of commitment to the life of the Church by a plurality of Orthodox Christians. And this is true whether we are talking about those baptized as infants or those who join the Church as adults. If anything, the empirical data highlights the pastoral importance of stressing not simply catechesis (religious education) evangelism (making new Orthodox Christians).

The survey data gives us an overview of religious life in American and the place of the Orthodox Church in this broader con text. Filled with charts, graphs, and statistics the report is not something that most of us are likely just to pick and read. In what follows, rather than a rigorous statistical analysis of the Church's life, I offer some points for reflection based on the survey. My goal is to help laity and clergy understand that catechesis and evangelism must be combined with a pastoral commitment to the personal discipleship of all members of

the Church.

To read the rest click here.
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