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Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has urged the clergy to conduct more active missionary work among Internet users.
“The mission of the Church can and must be widely spread to the Internet. Blogs, social networks – all then are offering new opportunities for Christian testimony. To be absent from there means to admit one’s helplessness and reluctance for saving one’s brethren,”
the Patriarch said in his report at the current Bishops’ Council in Moscow.
“Now that the social media are demonstrating great though not always healthy interest in church life, it is the duty of the clergy to use it for the best, to create conditions for spreading the truth about Christ, the truth about the life of the people of the Church among the younger generation,”
the Patriarch believes.
“This is a big and painstaking job which all of us are called upon to do,” he stressed. “However, the Church lives in the material, not virtual world in which good things are done, sympathy and love are demonstrated in liturgy,” he said.
A person who lives predominantly in the media environment is far from the Christian ideal, he believes.
“A space artificially created by people for communications cannot replace the beauty of the God’s created world,” the Patriarch said.
He addressed the clergymen to whom the Internet sometimes replaces actual contacts with their parish.
“The virtual mission should not replace work in the parish but should only supplement it,” he added.
He also voiced concern amount the number of lies about the Church that one can encounter on the web.
“Naturally, there are also many people in the Internet environment who spread truthful information about the life of the Church, share personal stories of addressing the saving word of God, but the number of cynics, scandal-mongerers and false whistle-blowers is greater by many times,” he said. In his opinion, “these all are visible results of the work of the enemy of the human race.”
As web designer I agree. I’m also a new convert to Orhtodoxy and in my reasearch is seems like most Orhtodox websites just repeat the same things and most of the church sites use the same web site templates or design. Further, most of the “about Orthodoxy” information is very theologically heavy and hard for a potential convert to understand.
A word of advice to those with sites out there as well. Try to stay away from verbage that would be considered insulting to a protestant if they came to your site. They might be doing some soul searching and get turned off if you’re not careful.
Nicholas Griswold says
As a convert to Orthodoxy and a Protestant Seminary Graduate with an MDiv in Evangelism I have been frustrated trying to find an audience of interested people to reach. We have tried all the traditional methods with little to show for our efforts until we started using the internet. The key to Evangelism is going to where the people are. The people are on the internet now, so this is a great venue. I agree with Jeremiah that we must package our comments to lessen any chance of offense. I also agree with the Patriarch that we have to stop attacking each other on the internet because it sends a very negative message to the world we are trying to win.
As for “insultng” Protestants, I say tell them to get a thicker skin. Protestants are notorious for insulting others to push their religion so if they can dish it out they ought to be able to take it.
Fr. John says
I’m afraid I must agree with Christian Lady. These days, there is nothing more offensive than truth – so be it.
Let me ask you hypothetically what you mean. If a protestant we’re doing some soul searching into Orthodoxy, you guys wouldn’t bite your tounge or be mild spoken to guide them into a conversion? Rather you would expect them to be “thicker skinned”?
I didn’t get the impression that Jeremiah was saying to compromise the Truth, I think he was saying we need to know who we are talking to.
For example, I could call ChristianLady and Fr. John stupid (e.g. be insulting) for not understanding what Jeremiah was getting at. Orrrrr, (more the Jeremiah’s point) I could speak the Truth in Love, and make it as accessible as possible, and learn to see where people are at. There are millions of Protestants, just because some might be offensive, doesn’t give every Orthodox the right to join them in it…
Paul Stetsenko says
If a Protestant goes “soul-searching” and is serious about it, the last thing he or she should encounter is a watered-down Orthodoxy. A dissatisfied Protestant has plenty of this brew in his/her own denomination. He is looking for a spiritual home, not a spiritual five-start hotel.
If a Protestant finds what the Orthodox think about Protestantism offensive, then he or she is not really soul-searching but is on a spiritual ‘cruise’ – to see some exotic interiors filled with incense, to sing some archaic ethnic hymns, to collect some artwork (“icons”). And if he or she is indeed on the path leading home, away from years of walking in circles in the spiritual wilderness, his or her own thoughts would already be in parallel to what the “offensive” Orthodox websites state.
The Protestants who encounter Orthodoxy are often seduced by its ‘exteriors’ (candles, chanting, icons etc.). However, they immediately get greatly offended upon learning that they cannot partake in Orthodox communion. So, should we offer them Bread and Wine in love so that they would not feel insulted?
Paul Stetsenko says
If theological content of Orthodoxy is “too heavy and hard to understand” for a prospective convert, then perhaps Orthodoxy is not for that person. There are plenty of denominations around whose theology is light and easy to understand.
Fr. John says
I would even say that Orthodoxy is easy if it is presented clearly – and that is the biggest problem.
Paul Stetsenko says
Fr. John, I could not agree with you more; you’re absolutely right. I can’t tell you how many times I’d explain a particular – and complicated – teaching of the Church to a Protestant, and the person’s eyes would light up, and he or she would say, “Oh, but this absolutely makes sense!”
I remember how I told one Protestant lady what the Orthodox Church taught on the death of Christ (the perennial question “So, and why Jesus had to die?”). When I finished, she was teary-eyed and said that in her entire life she could not understand the reasons for His death, but this was the first time that she had heard an explanation that made perfect sense, and not just of His death but of it all. And she has been a church-goer all her life!