External Threats to the Growth of the Church

Much of the work I have published recently has been focused on various aspects of Church Growth as seen from a perspective within the Church itself.  I have appealed to its theology, its tradition, its practices, and its God-given purpose to define the nature of Church and to ask what it might mean for a Church to succeed. I have asked what there is about the Church that could or should grow…

Who Can Effectively Introduce Christ to Others? Part II

The Spiritual Journey as Preparation for Witness The spiritual abilities, 1) transcending the self, 2) selfless love, and 3) complete freedom presented in the last post are the most effective way to make vibrant witness a reality in the lives of our parishioners.  Interestingly, these characteristics are the same goals set out by the Orthodox Church when it speaks of spiritual growth. Since this kind of training should be taking place in…

Who Can Effectively Introduce Christ To Others? Part I

As I have suggested Christ is perceptibly present in the life of a mature believer. So let’s take a look at why that is the case by talking about the basic conditions for an effective witness, in other words, by asking “what will it take for others to see Christ in us?” According to St. Theophan the Recluse (commenting on Zechariah 8:22) “Those who live always according to the Spirit of Christ…

What is the Nature of the Evangelistic Task? (Part 2)

The Informal Lay Witness of the Church For too long we have neglected this as an aspect of our lives in Christ and as a result few new believers are being brought into the Church. Sometimes we do manage to organize something formally evangelistic like an “open evening,” a lecture, or a concert to which we invite non-believers. But we rarely see anything like the parish-wide, spontaneous urge to witness that characterized…

What is the Nature of the Evangelistic Task? (Part I)

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me. Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me. Christ in every ear that hears me.[1] Until recently many Christians have made a sharp distinction between what they called home missions and foreign missions.[2] As they see it, home missions involves the evangelism and service done using one’s own language within the context of…

How Can Divine Presence Be Perceived? (Part 3)

What Can It Mean Then to Perceive and Be Introduced to Christ?   I have mentioned two places where Christ is especially manifest in the word today: the Eucharist and the life of a mature believer. As for the one we invite to “Come and See” the Liturgy, I think the mere fact of coming into the Church is a sign of humility and submission and qualifies as an initial purification, allowing…

How Can Divine Presence Be Perceived? (Part 2)

What Can It Mean Then to Perceive God (Christ)? As I mentioned, the introduction of persons into our discussion has raised a number of significant challenges rooted in the composite, that is, finite/infinite nature of human beings and the personal, infinite character of God. So in order to be complete, our perception of humans has to somehow include that infinite dimension and that same ability to perceive the infinite in order to…