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Why is Orthodoxy a declining denomination?

biro

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Hi, Gorship. Welcome aboard. Many years to you and your wife.
 

dcommini

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I think we should take a look at whether the decline of Orthodoxy is across ALL jurisdictions, or only certain jurisdictions. If it's all jurisdictions, why? And why is my anecdotal evidence so vastly different? I've attended a fair few different parishes (the majority of which have been Antiochian), and they've all been growing. Are these merely isolated incidents that I've been lucky to see?

And if it's only certain jurisdictions, why? What is going on in those jurisdictions that are causing people to leave?
 

Agabus

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I think we should take a look at whether the decline of Orthodoxy is across ALL jurisdictions, or only certain jurisdictions. If it's all jurisdictions, why? And why is my anecdotal evidence so vastly different? I've attended a fair few different parishes (the majority of which have been Antiochian), and they've all been growing. Are these merely isolated incidents that I've been lucky to see?

And if it's only certain jurisdictions, why? What is going on in those jurisdictions that are causing people to leave?
Eh, the problem with anecdotes is that they are by nature ephemeral.

For example, one parish that I am very familiar with had a dynamic, engaged and all-around good priest. The church grew significantly. When he left after approximately a decade of service, he was replaced by a guy who wasn't well suited to the parish (or, for that matter, the priesthood — he eventually flamed out and just left the office with a note of resignation one day); the church declined under him and then floundered significantly in the time after his departure. Now they have a priest of several years who is good with people and even has a bit of a (good) name in Internet Orthodoxy, and the parish has been growing again but with a different kind of folks than the first priest.

My point, I guess, is that a snapshot of the parish at any given time would tell you a pretty different story.
 

Bizzlebin

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Eh, the problem with anecdotes is that they are by nature ephemeral.

For example, one parish that I am very familiar with had a dynamic, engaged and all-around good priest. The church grew significantly. When he left after approximately a decade of service, he was replaced by a guy who wasn't well suited to the parish (or, for that matter, the priesthood — he eventually flamed out and just left the office with a note of resignation one day); the church declined under him and then floundered significantly in the time after his departure. Now they have a priest of several years who is good with people and even has a bit of a (good) name in Internet Orthodoxy, and the parish has been growing again but with a different kind of folks than the first priest.

My point, I guess, is that a snapshot of the parish at any given time would tell you a pretty different story.
I think this is a great example of how we must be very careful about how we think of Christianity. On top of all the other problems with the parish model as a whole, having a "presbyter-driven" community is a very dangerous thing, ripe for widespread spiritual abuse. Until the numbers of parishioners somehow reflect seriousness primarily about Jesus Christ—and not about liturgical attachments, programs, ethnicity, sentimentality, and seeking gurus and/or counseling—I'm not sure that the numbers are really that useful at all, even if they're collected with accurate polling.
 
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Statistics can be skewed any way you want. Here is an anecdote: my previous parish had a parish priest who was very much a people person and a people pleaser. He retired. The parish priest following loved people, just in a different way. So some people left because the priest was not like Father so-and-so. Now a new priest is there and no one knows what to think of him, but they know he isn't like either one of the previous priests. What that tells me is that some people go to church because of other reasons besides desiring Christ. Maybe they feel really good with one priest versus another. Or they like how one is more traditional. Or they like how one understands them better. Or they like how he cracks a good joke during a homily. Who knows?

I now go to a parish which is vibrant and has catechumens just spilling in the door. It just so happens that there aren't many options for 100 miles.
 

Ainnir

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I think "not knowing what to do with your priest" doesn't necessarily preclude desiring Christ. If people are still attending and engaged despite their uncertainty, they're either there for Christ or out of habit. Either way, they're still in the services and hopefully serving. God can do something with that.
 
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