Encouraging / Discouraging Conversion (Teachings of the Orthodox Church) Christianity. Orthodoxy. Catholicism. Sense of life. Articles for Christians.
“I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.                “You shall have no other gods before me.                “You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me, and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.                “You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain, for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.                “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. You shall labor six days, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates; for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy.                “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your God gives you.                “You shall not murder.                “You shall not commit adultery.                “You shall not steal.                “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.                “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
English versionChristian Portal

Christian Resources


Encouraging / Discouraging Conversion (Teachings of the Orthodox Church)


I once read that the official position of Judaism on people who wanted to join that faith was to deliberately discourage them three times before accepting their wish to become Jews. Does Orthodoxy take a similar approach? That is, does it encourage other Christians to find a "working truth" (silly as that might sound) in their own denominations before considering Orthodoxy?

Furthermore, I understand that the Orthodox Church does not carry out missionary work among non-Orthodox Christians, and that it encourages (or perhaps requires?) non-Orthodox who wish to marry Orthodox to join the church. What is its stance, however, on individuals who want to join simply of their own free will?


While there is no formal point by which prospective converts are discouraged three times -- a Jewish practice to which you refer -- those wishing to enter the Church should not do so lightly and should only do so after a period of preparation and catechesis, coupled with the opportunity to identify with the Orthodox faith community. This period may vary from person to person, depending on their circumstances, their fears and concerns, and so on.

Since conversion involves a change of heart and mind, it is more than a matter of intellectual assent.

It is only my personal opinion, but if one approaches Orthodox Christianity as an "option" or as a means of "running away" from something or someone else, rather than as "The Way" [as opposed to an "option" or "one of many ways"] which demands one to "run to" Christ, one should not seek entrance into the Church. Until an interior change is experienced, no genuine conversion takes place.

There are those who would cast Orthodoxy as a "non-missionary" Church. Such is not the case. As Fr John Meyendorff once wrote, "when the Church ceases to be missionary, it simply ceases to exist." While the Church does proclaim the Gospel to any and all who would listen and receive it, it does not purposely seek to encourage or coerce others to leave their faith communities. The Church attempts to "speak the Truth in love" and invites others to accept its teachings, experience, and life. While the Church would discourage proselytism, it is most open to those who are seeking the historic Church and the way of life it offers.

As far as marriage, it is not true that a non-Orthodox who wishes to marry an Orthodox Christian must first join the Church. An Orthodox Christian may marry a non-Orthodox Christian in an Orthodox marriage ceremony only if the non-Orthodox party was baptized with water and "in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."

Published in January 2011.

Read more Christian articles

Recommend this page to your friend!

Read also: