“Parishioners of Saint Basil the Great Greek Orthodox Church exist…
to BE disciples,
to MAKE disciples,
and to GROW disciples of Jesus Christ.”
Here's what we mean by this:
To BE Disciples
In Orthodox Christianity the sacrament of baptism is the birth through which we begin the journey of being united to Christ through the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord, Jesus used this word, “disciple” (“μαθητής”) to describe someone who was both His intimate follower and a student of His teaching. A true Orthodox Christian seeks, by God’s grace, to BE Christ’s disciple—to have union with God through the God/man Jesus(Galatians 2:20), partaking of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4), being conformed to God’s likeness—through Orthodox Christian worship, participation in the sacramental life of the Church, continuing education in the Orthodox Christian Faith, loving service to others, participation with His saving mission to the world, and Christ-centered community.
To MAKE Disciples
Of course, if our goal is to have unity with Christ, then we must also be united with Him in His mission to the world. The ancient Christian theologian and preacher, Saint John Chrysostom, once said, “Nothing is more frigid than a Christian who is indifferent to the salvation of others. Indeed I wonder if such a person can be a true Christian. To become a disciple of Christ is to obey His law of love. Love means to want the best for others, sharing with them the joy of love. So the Christian feels compelled to speak to others about the law of love, and the joy of obeying this law.” Chrysostom is speaking of the Orthodox Tradition that we begin forming from the very moment of one’s baptism. At every Orthodox baptism, the Gospel Reading for the service (Matthew 28:16-20) gives voice to Jesus’ final command to His disciples before His Ascension. In what has come to be called “The Great Commission,” our Lord directs His Apostles (and the newly baptized) to “go and make disciples.” This is not directed only to His Apostles. Just as when Jesus commanded His Apostles to, “take, eat, this is My Body…” it was directed to His entire Church — so also His command to His Apostles to “go and make disciples” was also directed to His entire Church. Each time we recite the creed, we say that we are, “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.” The word, “apostle,” signifies someone who is “sent with a message.” So when we say that we are an “apostolic” Church, not only does that mean that we hold to the Tradition passed down to us from the Apostles, but it most especially means that we are a people, who from the very first moments of our baptism, are being sent by Christ. While we aren’t all given the spiritual gift of being Apostles, we are all called to be apostolic…sent with a message. Orthodox Christians were never meant to think of themselves as passive gurus who merely draw flocks of disciples to themselves by virtue of their reputations (the great holiness magnet strategy…a strategy that rejects the actions and example of Christ and His apostles). Rather, we are missionaries, sent by Christ with a message of His Good News. We are sent. We are not called to sit. Thus, Orthodox Christians at Saint Basil Church actively look for ways to connect other people to the Giver of life, Jesus Christ.
To GROW Disciples
Jesus completes His Great Commission with the successive mandate, “teaching [disciples] to obey everything that I have commanded” (Matthew 28:20). Part of the mission that Jesus expects us to fulfill is to engage in opportunities for growing His disciples through a ministry of teaching. First and foremost, teaching within the Church should be experiential, where Orthodox Christians experience the “mystery” (“that which is being revealed”) within the Church's liturgical and sacramental life. However, also in obedience to Christ, we are committed to ministry and activities that provide parishioners with opportunities to learn more about their faith, including, Sunday school, adult education (WHYs of Orthodox Christianity class), retreats, challenges for personal spiritual growth, our parish bookstore, etc. This teaching activity works towards helping Orthodox Christians discover their gifts and talents in order to equip and direct them to be effective disciples…germinating, nurturing and growing opportunities for mission in the world.