Summary: Why, how, when, where and to whom are Christians called to witness?
“Meeting People Where They Are”
By: Rev. Kenneth Emerson Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tells us: “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”
He doesn’t tell us to preach the good news only to those who have the same color skin that we have...
...He doesn’t tell us to preach the good news only to those with the same socio-economic backgrounds as we have...
...He doesn’t tell us to preach the good news only to those we feel comfortable around...
...He tells us to “Go into all the world”...
...and as we know, this world is a melting pot of different nationalities, different languages, different
backgrounds, different worldviews, different mental capabilities, different hurts and different sensitivities...
...and we are called---as we bring this good news of Jesus Christ to all people---to be sensitive to these
In our Scripture Lesson for this morning we see that the apostle Paul was more than willing to give up his
personal privileges, social and religious rights--when dealing with different kinds of people.
“I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”
Now, when Paul says that he became all things to all people, this does not mean that he compromised his
convictions...nor does it mean that he was trying to trick others into thinking he was something he was not.
What it does mean is that Paul got next to other people, he gained their confidence and trust, he did not
judge them, he met them where they were.
And he did this “all for the sake of the gospel.”
And as United Methodists, we come from a long heritage of those who were willing to meet people
where they were so as “to win as many as possible.”
Our founder, John Wesley was an ordained priest in the Church of England. He was a brilliant scholar
who had been highly educated.
Ten years after Wesley had been ordained a priest he had his conversion or born again experience, and he
went on to share the good news that he had experienced with as many people as possible.
Wesley’s message is our message: Salvation is for everyone and can be found only through Jesus
A new life awaits anyone who loves Christ, repents of their sins, believes in God’s saving grace and follows
The problem came when many churches refused to let Wesley preach his emotional message of
salvation through Christ....but that didn’t stop Wesley...he became all things to all people.
During Wesley’s time, New factories in England were drawing thousands of poor people from the
countryside into the overcrowded cities.
And these people were brutalized by the harsh working conditions and pitiful living environments.
So Wesley took his message into the open fields...where these people were...and the crowds grew rapidly.
He faced lots of opposition and even mob violence, but his sincerity shone through and even the most
hostile of people were often converted.
John Wesely gained a great following, and he and his followers continued to reach out to the poor and
Many local Methodist societies sponsored schools, and Wesley himself operated a school for orphans.
In England, the penalty for many minor crimes was long imprisonment or even death, and so Methodists
worked for the humane treatment of prisoners and for reforms within the prison systems.
And Wesley set up and ran places in several cities where medical supplies were distributed to those who
could not afford them.
He even wrote and published a handbook for medical home care which went through dozens of editions.
Wesley saw where people’s needs were...and he met people where they were in order to save as many
In America, outcasts who fled persecution in other countries were brought the message of salvation
through circuit riding Methodist preachers...and thus, these people found a home in America and a home in
The heart of the Christian faith is Christ’s ministry of outreaching love.
Sometimes United Methodists are called “the church of the warm heart” because we have a history of
caring about and working with all people.
Christ has led Methodists to build almost as many schools as churches.
We were among the first to create institutions of learning for settlers, women, and newly freed slaves.
And there are now 120 United Methodist institutions, including schools outside of the United States.
Today, we as United Methodists comprise the second largest Protestant denomination in the United
States....and worldwide The United Methodist Church has over 10 million members.
John Wesley lived the message that he preached, by experiencing Christ’s love in his heart, and
conforming his life to Christ’s will....
....By sharing the message of salvation....