Today after Matins we went to coffee at what is becoming our regular place. If you’ve ever been to a downtown Portland, OR or Soho coffee shop you’ll be able to visualize the place…I had seen the owner twice before when we were there but hadn’t introduced myself – preferring instead to wait until he’s had an opportunity to get used to our presence – the oddness of the cassock at the early stage of interacting with people in this area is a barrier.
As we drank our coffee we noticed there was a projector hung from the ceiling and then we saw a screen behind one of the sofas. The thought of using a neutral (and very comfortable) space and medium like this – not to mention the scores of options of great teaching on the Net – struck us pretty hard.
I approached him and asked if he rented the space for events. He said he did not, he used it as a forum for local churches to show movies mostly – but also to introduce young people to classic old films. At this point I introduced myself and told him what I was doing there. It turns out, like myself he’s from CA. Mostly because of that he loves the freedom here of the mixing of churches with business and community. He invited me to reserve the space anytime I wanted – as well as post our business cards on his bulletin board – which I did.
This, I’m finding, is the value of getting out into the community – and staying there. Yesterday he didn’t know me and probably thought I was a kook (or worse, I probably would in his place). Today he knows me and how I fit and that I may be around and be part of the community for a long time…It seems to me, everything we do in terms of ads and internet and the message in general is toward this end. It’s surprisingly easy to forget this and stay overly focused on the medium.
I also heard today (again), that “you’re not going to get anyone here to come to the Orthodox Church…not more than a few for sure.” as I thought about that I was struck by something we used to say as Protestants – and is absolutely true in the Orthodox teaching as well. Jesus would have done everything he did for one person – there was no minimum guaranteed number of people who would find the Kingdom of God if he accepted the cross.
…Of course where we serve is ultimately the Bishop’s call – it’s his place to say when we should stay and when we should go. That said, it seems inescapable to me that our unwillingness to remain in a work because of fewness of numbers isn’t tantamount to saying our time is more important than His blood.
No one came to the services today or seminar tonight…Maybe Tomorrow – or the next day.