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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What do the converts want?

This is from the website:

"It doesn't take a Ph.D. in Liturgical Studies to tell the
difference between a Southern Baptist church and an Orthodox church. You can get
some pretty good clues just by walking in the door and looking around. But there
are some similarities between the two that might be a little trickier to spot.
For instance, let me tell you about what life is like on Sunday nights in a
Southern Baptist congregation.

Baptists worship at several different
times during the week -- at least they did in the old days when I was growing up
as a Southern Baptist pastor's son. One of those times is on Sunday nights. Back
in the early 1980s, I was active in a church in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, in
which the typical Sunday morning crowd would be about 200 to 300 people, which
is rather small for a Baptist church, but fairly normal for an Orthodox parish.
Then the crowd on Sunday night would be from 40 to 45 people.

Now, that
ratio should sound familiar to many priests who lead Vespers services. But the
similarities don’t stop there.

Before the age of 30, I became a deacon
and the finance chairman of that church -- which, in the Southern Baptist way of
doing things, meant that I was the only person, not excluding the pastor, who
saw the annual pledge cards. I was the only person in the congregation who knew
who was giving what.

If there is an experience in life that will teach
you the meaning of original sin, finance chairman is that role. What I
discovered through that experience is that there is no connection whatsoever
between how much a family gives to the church and how much money that family
makes. Instead, I found that the key connection is faithfulness in worship. If
you attend the Sunday night service at a typical Baptist church and look around
at the 40 people there in comparison to the 200 or 300 in attendance on Sunday
morning, you will find that about 80 percent of the church's giving is accounted
for in that group.

The bottom line: The Sunday night experience in a
Baptist church is very similar to that in Saturday evening Vespers services in
an Orthodox church. As Bishop Antoun told me once, if you look at who attends
Great Vespers and comes to confession, you are looking at about 80 percent of
the service, the giving, and the energy in most parishes.

Who comes to
Vespers? Who comes to confession? Who comes to the feasts, and why do they come?
That’s where I would like to start as we consider this question: What do the
converts want?"

To read the rest please visit the website.



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