Step Up: Witness

Step Up: Witness

The October tradition at Pacific Beach UMC is to explore our Stewardship commitments. Stewardship is the way we think of our faithful support of the ministries that take place as a part of this vibrant congregation. In the United Methodist tradition, we see this as: prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.

We conclude our Stewardship dialogue exploring witness, though the idea of witnessing or sharing our faith is one that evokes a variety of perspectives. Some might see this as standing in public areas proclaiming the Good News, and some might see this in the phrase often (incorrectly) attributed to St. Francis of Assisi to “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” And some might have an understanding somewhere in between.

Acts 22:12-16
12“There was a certain man named Ananias. According to the standards of the Law, he was a pious man who enjoyed the respect of all the Jews living there. 13He came and stood beside me. ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ he said. Instantly, I regained my sight and I could see him. 14He said, ‘The God of our ancestors has selected you to know his will, to see the righteous one, and to hear his voice. 15You will be his witness to everyone concerning what you have seen and heard. 16What are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized, and wash away your sins as you call on his name.'”

Consider these questions:

  1. What is your understanding of witness? What do you think Christians are called to do to witness?
  2. In what ways have you seen others witness? What emotions did this experience evoke?
  3. In what ways have you shared your own witness? What reactions came from others?
  4. Is the concept of witness in questions 2 and/or 3 the same or different from your understanding from question 1?

Post-Sermon Follow Up on 11/1

Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found by clicking this link (will open in a new tab).

Pastor Christopher’s sermon focused on Paul’s witness as he was facing an angry mob of religions leaders and practitioners who were upset about Paul’s radical inclusivity. In doing so, Pastor Christopher mentioned a speech by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. entitled “Beyond Vietnam” where he noted that “silence is betrayal.”

Considering this phrase along the idea of witnessing to our faith, might it be prudent to consider that we must witness to our faith because not doing so is a betrayal both to God and to all of God’s hurting people? To be honest, I find that challenging. And in my heart, I think it might be true.

Paul witnesses to his faith sharing an engaging mix of theological and philosophical teachings wrapped in his personal story. Later in Sunday’s service, we heard an engaging mix of theological and philosophical teachings wrapped in the personal story of one of our youth. She explained that the radical inclusivity of this congregation was something that she felt compelled to share with others.

And I felt my heart strangely warmed.

Online resources:

  • Full text of the speech “Beyond Vietnam”
  • Our Membership Vows – a brochure from the global UMC on the membership covenant of The United Methodist Church (several language options available)

Consider these questions:

  1. How does this discussion of witness impact your understanding of the membership commitment of United Methodists?
  2. Can you think of a way to share your personal faith story as (in Pastor Christopher’s phrasing) a story of spiritual healing?
  3. How have you felt compelled to share your faith story? Have you done it? Why or why not? How do you feel about your decision?