Come follow me I will make you fishers of people (Mark 1:17) were some of the first words Jesus spoke as he began His public ministry. Jesusí last words before ascending to heaven were, ďYou will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earthĒ (Acts 1:8). Thus, Jesus gives us unambiguous instructions to call people to faith and assures us we will be given His power for this work. Our missions field begins in Vienna (both inside and outside VPCís walls) and extends outward.
Each of us has been given spiritual gifts to use in building up the Body of Christ. Some have been given the gift of teaching, some the gift of preaching and some the gift of prophesying while others have been given the gift of evangelism. While God uses those with the gift of evangelism to draw people into his flock, he also uses those with other gifts. Acts 2 tells the story of Pentecost when the believers, who were gathered together, were filled with the Holy Spirit. Suddenly, a crowd of Jews from many nations who were staying in Jerusalem gathered to hear the excitement created by the Holy Spirit. To their surprise, each person heard the wonders of God in his own language. As a result, three thousand people were added to the community of believers that day. While many of us have not been given the gift of evangelism, God uses us and the language we speak to spread the Good News. Some of us speak teacher; some speak lawyer; some speak mom; some speak engineer; some speak dad; some speak mechanic; some speak politician. If we are open, God will use us to spread the Good News of Godís wonders today, and many will be added to the community of believers as a result.1
Like a coin, calling people to faith has two sides: one depicts what we do as a church, and the other illustrates what we do as individuals. The church is not simply a place where we go for religious activities but, instead, it is an instrument of witness that displays to all the essence of Godís Kingdom. We are called out of the culture into an assembly whose life is a sign, witness and instrument to which God is inviting all creation in Jesus Christ. Through our worship services, activities, programs and events, we provide opportunities for people who do not yet have a relationship with Jesus to experience the grace of God and the gift of faith. Thus, we reach out to people from all nations or ethnicities with an invitation to follow Jesus Christ.
The other side of the coin is personal. As followers of Jesus, our desire to share our faith with others is an outpouring of love toward God and service to people. We meet people where they are by embracing them and entering into their world with non-judgmental, saving love, just as Jesus approaches us.
Calling our friends, family, neighbors and co-workers to become living members of Christís earthly community, the ministry of every believer, is a process we engage in with the Holy Spirit. As ambassadors for Christ, we share our faith in natural ways based on relationships. To be effective, people should see the Christian faith modeled in our lives (Philippians 1:27), lives lived abundantly as a result of following Jesus.
1 Eunice McGarrahan, Vienna Presbyterian Church