Outreach & Evangelism Report Annual Meeting January 2010
Prepared by Lee Kopulos, Chairperson
Theme: Use your Spiritual Gifts
This writer has been issuing reports on St. Luke’s evangelism and church growth for well over 20 years. The themes are always very basic and Bible based. Last year we spoke of renewing your mind, “For the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead, also.” (James 2:26). This year we speak to you about utilizing your spiritual gifts. There are many diverse gifts given by the Lord and you have one or more of these. So, what is your gift? Is it: apostleship; prophecy; teaching; miracles; healing; charity; administration or tongues? There are differences of ministries but the same Lord who works in everyone.
Probably our best example for using spiritual gifts is our Patron, St. Luke. An extraordinary man for sure. He had been given many spiritual gifts: (1) as a doctor of medicine, he was a healer; (2) as an historian, he wrote the Gospel account and the Book of Acts; (3) as an evangelist, he was an important friend of St. Paul’s in Athens, Corinth, Jerusalem and Ephesus. After Paul’s martyrdom he preached in Italy, Dalmatia, Macedonia, Galatia and Thebes in Egypt. Finally, Luke is an iconographer for he is credited with writing the first icon of the Virgin Mary.
Result: Unity in Diversity
What is the result of any spiritual gift? The result is a building up of the body of Christ. When everyone is using his/her spiritual gifts there is a harmony of effort and we begin to accomplish the Great Commission of our Lord and Savior. This is His directive which is to energize us making possible the salvation of all at the Second Coming of the Lord.
Fortunately, at St. Luke parish everyone is encouraged to discover and use their Spiritual Gifts. We have over 80 different ministries and looking for more every day. Just ask Father Andrew, “What can I do?” Soon, he will find a ministry akin to your ability!
Here is what the Church Fathers say about Spiritual Gifts:
Spiritual Gifts owe nothing to human effort. They are a visible sign that the grace of the Holy Spirit is at work in the faithful. Christ cannot be proclaimed without the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit proclaims the lordship in a way that demons cannot, even if they say these words. Having formerly been worshipers of idols and led about by demons, so now, as worshipers of God, the Corinthians walk in a way that is pleasing to God. Wherever any truth is spoken it is spoken by the Holy Spirit. (From the early Church Fathers: John Chrysostom; Theodoret of Cyr; basil the Great; Ambrose; Origen; Isaac the Syrian; and Severian of Gabala)
2009 Results – In-reach Programs
Bible Study. This year was another year of In-reach with a majority of our effort related to Bible Study. Last year the Gospel of St. John was taught. This year we completed the Book of Acts and First Corinthians on Wednesday evenings. These books/epistle describe the spiritual gifts, manpower and perseverance necessary for the establishment of the Church as it is guided by the Holy Spirit. In Corinthians it speaks of the spiritual strength and unwavering devotion needed by the new Christian when the demons attacked them against the truth of the Lord. These Gospel lessons give us courage, strength and knowledge to be “doers of the word not hearers only” as St. James says (1:22). In the work of the Lord, participation is open to everyone.
We averaged 8 participants with as many as 12 participating at any one time. After Great Lent and Pascha of 2010 we will be completing Second Corinthians.
Mission & Evangelism Conference. We had only 3 participants going to Antiochian village for this wonderful and inspirational program. It will be offered again in 2010 and St. Luke will pay ½ of the room and board. The budget in 2010 allows for 10 participants with a van rental for next year.
Greeter Program. We have an outstanding group of Greeters who are conscientious and attentive to their task of being hospitable to new guests. Our Patron Saint for Greeters is St. Sampson the Hospitable – 6th Century of Constantinople.
Visitors and Guests. This year, with its failing economy, job losses and income woes for all Americans, has brought very interesting statistical comparisons and contrasts. While first-time visitors is the lowest number we have ever had at 27, (below):
’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ‘05
our Sunday “Pew Count” is the best we have ever experienced and shows very good growth of the membership. Note the marked improvement and increase as the year went along. The number in ( ) is the number of children:
“Pew Count” 2009 – average per week attendance increased 15.9%!
January - May - 107 / 36
A Final Note
Fr. Joseph Huneycutt in his very popular book, “One Flew over the Onion Dome,” encourages us, remembering this truth:
“One thing we must not forget: Orthodoxy is Christianity…You cannot add Orthodoxy to Christianity. Rather it is Christianity. We should never beat others over the head with this fact but we should never shy away from it.”
When one introduces Orthodox Christianity as the Church of Jesus Christ, the Apostles and the Martyrs, it is amazing how people perk up and listen.
I urge you to use this opening line when introducing the Holy Orthodox Church in your evangelism.