Lord, give us wisdom to deal with church problems.
Read ACTS 6:1–7
The Choosing of the Seven
6 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews[a] among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
- Acts 6:1 That is, Jews who had adopted the Greek language and culture
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us … if it is serving, then serve’ (Rom 12:6,7).
Though the Jerusalem church was a single ethnic church of Jews alone, there were two types of Jews: the Aramaic-speaking Hebrews, who lived in Israel, and the Greek-speaking Hellenists from the diaspora. The Hellenists had come to Jerusalem for the feast; many had been converted at Pentecost and remained in Jerusalem. They complained to the apostles, possibly asserting that the unequal food distribution was deliberate.
The way the apostles dealt with it provides an interesting lesson for church leaders. They realized that their call from God was to preach the Word and teach. They should not get involved in day-to-day administration, so they applied the principle of delegation (Exod 18:14–23). They called the leaders and told them to choose seven men who were full of the Spirit and wisdom, so that they were known to be fair. Many pastors today, instead of sticking to the ministry to which God called and gifted them, get involved in administration or other tasks. The answer is to find other people in the congregation who have administrative and financial gifts – but ego can get in the way. In many Indian churches the leadership is held in the hands of a few very powerful extended families or caste groups.
The Jerusalem church approves of this suggestion and chooses the seven. It is interesting that all the young men have Greek names and are Hellenist Jews: the first appointed office-bearers of the church are chosen not to preach, but for practical service. Neither ministry is superior to the other; both require people ‘full of the Spirit’. How do you deal with problems in your church? Does one ethnic (or other) group control the whole church?
Pray for wisdom in your local church to share the ministry among the gifted members.
Lord, we pray for the leaders in our church. We understand that with responsibility comes accountability. Bless and protect them.
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