Church Growth

Fr Stephen has written out some thoughts on American Christianity and I found this bit especially apropos after reading this post from Bruce Reyes-Chow:

The problem with this marketing approach [using different sorts of music to attract different groups to your church] is only beginning to reveal its flaws (apart from the theology behind it): America is becoming increasingly fragmented in its music styles. Thus Churches, or at least services, are having to be multiplied to meet the growing diversity of the market. … Someone asked me once (actually more than once) what St. Anne (my parish) does to grow. I answered simply: “We answer the phone.” I cannot explain where the converts come from, though there is a slow but steady stream… The faith remains the same whether the “market” is a village in Africa or a suburb of Los Angeles. It is thus truly “inclusive” and “universal” in the extreme.

The comments become pretty interesting. Especially since my church has Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Stewardship drives, study groups, etc — all things that converts poo-poo in the comments as “too American.”

4 thoughts on “Church Growth”

  1. Re: Lancaster

    He is semi-retired and seems to be enjoying it. We have two other priests working at the parish. One was good friends with his son Luke in seminary. The other was born and raised in the church.

  2. Americans and Orthodox worship

    My parish also has Sunday School, Stewardship drives and study groups. I would not characterize them as too American. I missed where that was said in the comments on my blog, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Sometimes we converts are afraid of our shadow.

    1. Re: Americans and Orthodox worship

      Looks like I overstated the case of the comments. I could only find one that really talked about Sunday School. The comments are very interesting, though.

      Sometimes we converts are afraid of our shadow.

      Exactly. My (Greek) priest likes to say that the (ethnic) cradle Orthodox need the converts just as the converts need the cradle Orthodox. We balance each other.

  3. Re: Americans and Orthodox worship

    On subject of Sunday School, my understanding is that it was a Greek Archbishop who encouraged their formation. He wanted to foster religious education for Orthodox youth.

    Re: sermons. The Orthodox focus on practice and, as a result, the Eucharistic celebration is the focal point rather than the homily. I’m there for the sacrament, not a homily. I’m sure others feel the same way, or they would have left long ago — because, yes, the homilies are poor to non-existent.

    So, why restrict education to the (admittedly poor) homily? What, specifically, is wrong with Sunday School, other than that it “smells” like a protestant thing? Should we stop passing the peace because that “smells” protestant?

    Instead of reacting to our past (which is probably what has brought many a convert to Orthodoxy, myself included), we should, as you suggest, bring the good with us.

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