There is a danger in becoming Orthodox. However, we can do something about this danger.
To summarize the first post, which you can read by clicking HERE, many of our converts are leaving as quickly as they join. Chrismation day can feel like a wedding, and after that the let down begins.
The good news is there are two ways we can make a difference. We need a pragmatic approach to this problem, so I did some research to find tangible solutions. Both of these solutions can begin during catechesis, and I would argue should begin during catechesis. These two solutions help our new members participate at a deeper level, which can foster healthy relationships and a deeper zeal for the faith.
Whether a Bible study or book study, having regular adult programming at your parish is critical in America. There is a myth in America that the eucharist is enough, and in my southern roots let me say, “it ain’t!” The way my friend, Fr. Jonathan Ivanoff, said it was this, “the eucharist is essential but not enough.”
Just like in my marriage, there are different components of the marriage which are essential, but any one component is not enough. Regular adult programming (outside of worship services) creates relationships and challenges us to internalize what we are learning. We need to be challenged intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.
There are many forms of adult programming. The easiest way to get started is with a Bible or book study. These can be scheduled at any time. Find out what time people from your church would appreciate, whether a Tuesday morning at 6:30 AM or a Thursday evening at 6:30 PM. Every parish is different, so a schedule in one parish may not be a good fit for the next parish. Remember the goal is for people to participate, so you may have to be flexible on your schedule.
Several of our parishes do this, so it is hard for me to give credit to one priest. Once someone is a catechumen, help that person find a place to serve in the church. This might be coffee hour, or at the altar, or even in the nursery. Every person should find a way to have a ministry related to the church.
Of course there are exceptions, such as someone taking care of a loved one at home. However, most of us could be doing more to serve the church. If our priest is pro-active at engaging us, we can accomplish so much more for the Kingdom of God. Some people are waiting to be asked to serve, and do not feel comfortable volunteering. Ask them to participate in the life of the church, because so many of our new members are scared or nervous about what to do. Ease the fear or apprehension by offering ministry options.
We are always becoming Orthodox. We area also always in danger of unbecoming Orthodox, and this organic relationship with the church (and God of course) will forever be changing. We are either moving deeper into our relationships or not. Catechesis never really ends, and in a way we will always be catechumens. Let us not forget that are new members are fragile and delicate. They need attention, direction, and gentle love on helping them become apart of their new community.