How To Share The Gospel As Orthodox Christians

Evangelism. That word probably put some sort of image in your head. Someone going door to door, passing out pamphlets and pocket gospels. Or maybe someone standing on a street corner downtown preaching into a megaphone. For many Orthodox Christians, evangelism is “a Protestant thing”, something that simply is not done in Orthodox communities. While the reason for this is deeply rooted in history and culture, in this post we seek to reinvigorate our parishes by remembering why Christ established His Church: to spread the Gospel to all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

The Great Commission

In Matthew 28:18-20, we read Christ’s final words spoken on this earth:

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.

Today, many Christians refer to this command as the Great Commission. It is in fulfilling the Great Commission that the Church finds Her purpose. Unfortunately, too many Orthodox parishes have forgotten this. Which is one of the reasons why our parishes are slowly dying out. We have stopped preaching the Gospel to the nations, and have instead turned inward, focusing only on ourselves.

How can we fix this? How can we renew our purpose and reinvigorate our communities, bringing more people to Christ and to salvation?

Reclaiming our purpose

In the Gospel of Matthew, Christ tells us to let our light shine before men the way a lamp shines when placed on a lamp stand (5:15-16). Additionally, Saint Peter tells us to “sanctify the Lord God in [our] hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks [us] a reason for the hope that is in [us], with meekness and fear” (3:15). Christ calls us to live as examples, to dedicate our lives to Him in every respect. This is the way we draw the interest of others. They notice the way we live as Orthodox Christians. They watch, they listen, they ask questions. And if God wills it, they are baptized when they are ready.

Christ never calls us to pressure anyone, to constantly bombard them with information about our beliefs, or to go out in public and make spectacles of ourselves preaching on street corners. True Orthodox evangelism brings the strength of the Gospel message into the hearts of all people. And it does this without having to resort to manipulation or “info-dumping.” We must live our lives according to Christ’s Commandments and allow our actions and way of life to draw others to the True Faith on their own.

Where do we start?

Psychologists tell us all the time: change starts first with ourselves. If the Orthodox are to proclaim the Gospel effectively, first we must assess our own lives. Are we living the way Christ calls us to live? Where do we fall short? How can we improve those shortcomings in our own lives and in the life of our parish? Change must start with us. As Saint Seraphim of Sarov tells us: “Save yourself, and thousands around you will be saved.”

1. Welcome visitors

Being a newcomer to an Orthodox Church can be intimidating. So much of what we do may seem strange, and many people have no clue what to expect when visiting for the first time. To make that transition easier, consider having a greeter at the door of the church. Having a friendly face to welcome someone can make a tremendous difference, and actually encourage them to return for future services.

You could also have a couple members of the parish help visitors find and navigate the service books; give pieces of blessed bread to visitors after Holy Communion and dismissal; and approach visitors during fellowship hour to make them feel welcome in your church. The first step is presenting an open, loving community that welcomes all, not just those who are like us.

Many people who visit an Orthodox church often do not return, precisely because they felt unwelcome, or like they did not belong.

2. Participate in the Sacraments

One of the best ways to spread the Gospel is to immerse yourself back into the life of the Church by participating in the Sacraments. The Holy Mysteries bring us closer to God every time we take part in them, especially Confession and Holy Communion. The practice of confessing your sins and working toward true repentance shows a desire to improve; that desire will show when you interact with others, both in and outside your parish. And partaking of the Eucharist is the ultimate way of attaining companionship with God, as we eat His Body and drink His blood.

Attend services. Participate in the sacraments as often as you can. And you will find that others notice this zeal and love for God in other areas of your life.

3. Look to the Saints for inspiration

Living a godly life is difficult. Fortunately, in the Orthodox Church, we have countless role models to look toward when we find ourselves falling a bit short. As human beings, the Saints endured many of the same hardships we face in our lives. Despite those hardships, they lived lives that pleased God, enough so that He welcomed them into His midst after they passed from this world.

Reading about the Saints and the lives they led greatly benefits the soul. It reminds us that attaining godliness and living a holy life is not impossible. It can inspire us to pray more deliberately, to fast more intensely, to give more generously. Doing so can remind us of the true meaning of the Great Commission set before us, and help us get back on track when we fall away.

4. Know what you believe

A key part of evangelism in the Orthodox Church is knowing what you believe and being able to articulate that. This seems obvious, but often Orthodox Christians find themselves unprepared when visitors ask questions about the Faith or the Church. You do not have to be an expert by any means. You should, however, know the basics of the teachings of the Church. At the very least, know who the experts are in your parish, so you can refer visitors to these individuals for more information.

For more information on what the Church believes, check out our article on the Teachings of the Church.

5. Have a great website

While this last one isn’t completely essential, it can help people looking into Orthodoxy to find important information they need. Maintain a user friendly site with informational articles that are easy to understand. This ensures that people who move to the area can locate you, read your content, learn more about the Faith, and (hopefully) stop in for a visit sometime.

A website can’t do all the evangelism for you, but it can serve as a valuable tool. Consider reworking your website by looking at it through the eyes of a non-believer. How could you improve the site to make it attractive to those who know nothing about Orthodoxy?


Through the Sacrament of Baptism, all Orthodox Christians have been called to proclaim the “wonderful deeds” which reveal God’s plan of salvation. Yet it is only when we have personally accepted the Good News and have experienced its power that we are capable of sharing it with others. And we share it with others by living the Gospel, and becoming like the Saints, living a life that is pleasing to God.

What are some ways your parish evangelizes to those in the community? Let us know in the comments!

Read More: Keeping the Orthodox Faith Alive At Home

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9 Responses

  1. I’m a protestant looking into Orthodoxy. From my outsider’s perspective this article only covers half of the issue. I fully agree with all of the points made here but how does the Orthodox church practically spread the good news? You must not merely wait for a nonbeliever to stumble upon your website or wonder into your church. That certainly isn’t the example given by the saints. I would have loved to read about specific ways they spread the gospel and how to implement that in our lives today.

    1. Stephanie,

      Christ is in our midst! Thank you for the suggestion – we will look into this and work on updating this article to include practical ways to evangelize that are in line with the methods of the Church Fathers and Saints. When we publish the new version, we will reply to your comment here so you are aware. God bless!

    2. Any individual Orthodox Christian can spread the Gospel in the best way he can. Any ex-Protestant should certainly be able to apply lifestyle evangelism to an Orthodox context.

    3. Peter and John was in the street proclaiming the good news. Jesus headed and teaches in the street, in houses, in public. Healing took place in the street.

      Paul spoke to the Ephesians in the street. Some of our pastors in our church believes in an exemplar life of purity and holiness so that others can drawn without words. I agree, but the word also teaches me to proclaim the gospel.

      I speak to my students at work, My family in the house, outside in the street one on one.

      We need to allow purification and persecution to be free in the purpose of God. May the Lord bless and multiply the the church of Gof in purity, sanctification and holiness to fulfill all His will.

  2. “As human beings, the Saints endured many of the same hardships we face in our lives. Despite those hardships, they lived lives that pleased God, enough so that He welcomed them into His midst after they passed from this world.

    Reading about the Saints and the lives they led greatly benefits the soul. It reminds us that attaining godliness and living a holy life is not impossible. It can inspire us to pray more deliberately, to fast more intensely, to give more generously. Doing so can remind us of the true meaning of the Great Commission set before us, and help us get back on track when we fall away.”

    In reference to the paragraphs above – I just wanted to ask why you look to the Saints as an example of how to live a godly life and not to Christ himself? If Jesus Christ through His death on the cross tore the veil between man and God, by looking to the Saints, are you not replacing that torn veil with another go between?

    1. Ness,

      Christ is in our midst! We absolutely look to Christ, as He is our Lord, and our ultimate example. However, His perfection can often seem almost too far removed from us, since He was fully God while also fully man. The Saints, on the other hand, are created human beings just like the rest of us. And seeing that there were human beings who achieved salvation, human beings who, through submitting their will to the will of God, attained the holiness we all strive to attain…seeing other human beings achieve this can be a source of great inspiration. Honoring the Saints does not usurp God, for those who honor Him, He honors (1 Samuel 2:30). Should we not do as God Himself has done, and honor the examples He has placed before us? God bless!

  3. The post talks about not ‘info dumping’ or bombarding people with information. While I agree that there’s a right and wrong way to go about things, I do see in the bible that Paul spent time in the market place reasoning with people about Christ, as well as taking opportunities to speak publicly (like on Mars Hill). Now, we aren’t all apostles, but at least some people are called as evangelists (according to Ephesians). I say this as an incredibly socially awkward protestant who has never liked the idea of having to shoehorn Jesus or worldview discussions into everyday conversations, by the way.

  4. I’m a Coptic orthodox Christian although I identify more as non denominational. I definitely evangelize by sharing my faith with people both at and outside work. I also hands out gospel tracts or leave them at various places. I think all people who identify as followers of Christ are commanded to do so and it’s a shame that the Orthodox Church does not stress this point. It is very biblical to be doing so as not only Jesus and the apostles did so but Jesus commanded it before ascending into heaven. I just don’t see any way around it and merely making the church look attractive in hopes someone becomes a Christian will not work. It’s just like saying that merely living a holy life different than everyone else will make people automatically know you’re a Christian without you telling them. Of course the conversion of people only comes through the Holy Spirit but we are still to plant seeds much like the parable Christ gave about the seeds and soils.

  5. Thank you for this article. I’ve been wondering how to bring Christ to others. And from what I read in the article, it is through allowing Christ to be a healing presence in me that people will begin to know Him through me. I pray that this will be so, and that I will be able to articulate it to others.

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