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Outreach & Evangelism Report Annual Meeting January 2013

Prepared by Lee Kopulos, Chairperson

“Orthodox Christianity is the Church of Jesus Christ, the Apostles and the Martyrs.” Here is a one line statement that can be used to stimulate a conversation and begin the process of evangelization. Try it, but be prepared to back it up!

The Message of the Bible and Church Growth

Earlier in this Gospel Jesus gives us a metaphor on church growth in the famous Parable of the Sower (Chapter 13). The Parable rightly defines what will happen as we reach out with the Gospel message to God’s people as we bring them to the church where the process of salvation begins. Jesus tells us in this Parable that there are different kinds of people who will react to His message in different ways, some good and some not so good:
• Some will hear the word but can’t put aside prejudices or ethnic pride and fall away:
• Some will receive the word with joy but not get rooted in the word and fall away;
• Some will hear of the word and see its truth but will let riches and/or materialism keep them from making the Faith a way of life; and
• Then there are those who hear the word of God and take it seriously by conforming to His statutes, commandments and precepts yielding a saved person with humility doing good works in Jesus’ name. The lesson is concerned with “doing the word of God” no matter what the outcome.

“Be doers of the word not just hearers, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22) We have now completed our 7th year of Bible Study. This year we studied the Gospel of Matthew ending in June with 17 participants. Then we went on to the study of 1and 2 Thessalonians and Galatians in December with 16 participants. The Bible program culminated with a Pizza Party at Karen Verderber’s home.

The 2013 Bible program will begin with the Gospel of Luke, our patron Saint. This program is open to all members and their friends, Orthodox or non-Orthodox.

The Doable Evangelism Retreat

On March 24 we presented the Doable Evangelism program to the parish. Mr. Randy Siever from Sparks (Reno), Nevada who has worked in evangelism for 30+ years at places like the famous mega church Saddleback under Rick Warren and presently at a very small church applying these Doable principles. Doable is not a hard charging program of pressure and commitment to be “saved.” Since only 3% of people have a gift of evangelism, few people can really pull it off. It only requires a person to make connect with people, establish a conversation, listen to them and pray silently afterwards. This gives Doable its name, anyone can do it. So in reality conversations are more important than conversions. The 3 Steps are (NLP):
• Notice – 30 seconds to look at someone and get their attention. Open up by “how are you?” or “how is your day going?;
• Listen – Look them in the eye while they speak to you. As they speak about events say “Wow!!!” a lot; and
• Pray - After the conversation is over turn away and say a little prayer for them and their peace with Jesus the Savior.
Most conversions take months or years. Only 14% of all people reported an immediate and direct conversion experience. Nudging someone to Jesus is a great experience. Make “Doable” your lifestyle by taking the time to speak with someone today. It only takes a few minutes of listening and don’t forget that small prayer! Both Stea Zekios and Karen Verderber have written about their experience with “Doable.” Ally Evangelopoulos spoke strongly about this program’s spiritual message to her high school classmates. A complete review of it can be found In The Evangelist, St. Luke’s quarterly publication Vol. 23 No. 2. Summer 2012. We expect to bring it back this next year.

Church Guests/Visitors

These are tough times in America for everyone. In 2011 our numbers were best ever in terms of membership, Sunday attendance and children. This year we have noticed a small drop in attendance. According to Peter Drucker, the famous management consultant, every 100 years a society has a sharp transformation. Is America experiencing this very thing? Here is the summary of first time guests on Sunday from our Greeter program:

Year 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
# of Guests 23 31 28 27 44

We who work in evangelism look forward to the challenges of a society that has become increasingly secular and disrespectful to fundamental Christian morals and values. We know that our savior is with us and will help us to transmit the message of salvation for all mankind.