Evangelical magazine, Christianity Today, published an interview today with Metropolitan Kallistos Ware of Great Britain. Metropolitan Kallistos answered several difficult questions about the state of Orthodoxy in the West, the Orthodox approach to evangelism, as well as her involvement in “social justice.” Here is one of the questions:
Q: In open countries where Orthodoxy has never been an established religion, how does Orthodoxy reach out to unchurched people?
A: In Britain, we have until very recently been concerned simply to be able to minister to our own people, to the children of Orthodox immigrants, who have lost a living link with their own church. Building our parishes from nothing—no church building, no accommodation for the priest—is not easy, and many of our priests in Britain still have to earn their living with secular work, because the community wouldn’t be able to support them full-time. We need to have a much more effective home mission before we reach out to others.
We Orthodox would certainly be against proselytism, by which I mean negative propaganda aimed at practicing members of other churches, criticizing what they already believe. That is not the way of Christ. But evangelism is something different.
We Orthodox are still certainly too inward looking; we should realize that we have a message that many people will listen to gladly. I see our mission not primarily to practicing members of other churches, but to the unchurched who are very numerous in Britain, less so in the United States.
To me, the most important missionary witness that we have is the Divine Liturgy, the Eucharistic worship of the Orthodox Church. This is the life-giving source from which everything else proceeds. And therefore, to those who show an interest in Orthodoxy, I say, “Come and see. Come to the liturgy.” The first thing is that they should have an experience of Orthodoxy—or for that matter, of Christianity—as a worshiping community. We start from prayer, not from an abstract ideology, not from moral rules, but from a living link with Christ expressed through prayer.
The full interview can be read on christianitytoday.com »