Thinking about opening an Orthodox church? We tell you what you need to know to get started.
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Orthodox Theology & Structure
The Orthodox Church (or Eastern Orthodox Church) is a large, but unfamiliar segment of the American religious landscape. With approximately 1.2 million members in the U.S., Orthodox Christianity has a meaningful presence in American religion. Yet because Orthodox churches are often tied to specific ethnic and cultural communities, the majority of Americans are unacquainted with their practices and beliefs.
Orthodox Christians are united in their theology, but diverse in their practices and customs based on each congregation's national identity (e.g. Greek Orthodox vs. Ukrainian Orthodox). Although there are multiple self-governing bodies within Orthodoxy, they choose to affiliate in communion with one another through the Eastern Orthodox communion.
Church planting in the Orthodox is a formal affair. Opportunities for orthodox religious entrepreneurs do exist, but they need to be channeled through the hierarchy of the appropriate governing body. As a first step, church planters and aspiring Orthodox ministry leaders should meet with their priest, bishop or diocesan representative.
Fundraising Tips for New Orthodox Churches
Don't automatically assume that your diocese will be excited about your church planting ideas as you are. There is a good chance that your personal desires won't be the right fit for the diocese's strategic goals.
However, in many cases a lack of funding and resources is the primary objection to a new church launch. It is imperative for Orthodox religious entrepreneurs to become masters at fundraising as well as incubators of ideas for expanding Orthodox ministry opportunities in the local community.
Since fundraising probably isn't your primary skill set, you'll need to thoroughly educate yourself about nonprofit fundraising strategies prior to embarking on an Orthodox church plant. To help you get started, Gaebler has created Funding 101 for Nonprofits, a guide to the many sources of funding you can tap into for your Orthodox church plant.
These additional resources regarding starting a religious organization may be of interest to you.
If you sell to Orthodox churches, you're in the wrong place. Try these resources instead:
We offer startup guides for other religions. View some of our sample guides below.