Growth By Division - Acts 6:1-7 NIV
Continue the new Acts study - Sequel & Requel. Our 15th today. Why study this? We want growth. But do we want the responsibility and complexity that comes with it? And the division...
#1 - Growth in the church leads to _________________ .
“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing. The Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.” Acts 6:1 NIV
When we think of division, we always think of shrinkage - of lower number. Any time you divide something, you're left with less, right? But in God's marvelous creation He actually grows things by dividing them! Consider that the growth of a baby begins with the division of cells! God grows His church this way too!
This is a paradox. Because we don't usually think of division within a church as a good thing. We strive for unity, right? But as the church grows it has new demands and needs. Example of the widows.
#2 - Division within the church is the opportunity for ______________ .
“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 6:7 NIV
We come to the end of today's Scripture and we discover that the result of the division was even greater growth! Division within the church, then, doesn't always mean bad or wrong or something to be avoided. It could also mean here is the opportunity for growth. If that's the case, then, it's not the division itself that is the problem but rather our response to it!
The apostles did not say, "Hey we're doing the best we can here!" They weren't defensive. They didn't argue the point. Some widows weren't being taken care of the way they wanted. There was a problem. Notice what else they didn't do... they didn't stop what they were called to do (preach/teach) and decide to head up the widows' food program.
#3 Growth within the church requires more than one _____________ .
“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.” Acts 6:2 NIV
This single verse - by itself - may be one of the most powerful verses in all of Scripture! I know it doesn't look like it, and you probably read this quickly and move on to the next. Don't! Stop! Because right here is the seeds of either growth or stagnation within the church. As your pastor, I gotta admit to you that this verse hit me right between the eyes!
Pastors - especially when they are leading small churches - have the tendency to see their abilities as the solutions to problems. The church needs a website? No problem. Let me research that and get a website started. The church needs a new printer? No problem. Over the next week I'll become a printer expert and find the right printer for us. The church needs some help with the music program? No problem, I can learn ukulele! Hahaha!
In all seriousness though, the greater the number of strengths of your spiritual leader, the greater his weakness will be in THIS arena - to see himself as the solution rather than God! And rather than other people!
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NIV
I call this the Super Pastor syndrome! Honestly sometimes we think we wear a big S under our shirt - matches the cape! Here's the truth - the more that your pastor does to take care of every detail, the smaller your church is going to be. The more your pastor releases others to do ministry and takes the attitude, "it wouldn't be right to neglect the ministry of the Word..." the greater the opportunity for growth within the church!
Challenge: This is not just the problem of the "super pastor" but also of the congregation to be willing to be spectators rather than ministry participants! Chicken or egg? Does pastor do his super thing because he sees that as his super power or because no one else steps up?
#4 - These new ministry-leaders still needed
A - ________________________ .
“Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit...” Acts 6:3a NIV
The first requirement for ministers of any kind is to demonstrate evidence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Notice it's not just that they are full of the Spirit. But that they are known to be full of the Spirit. People look at them and say, I know that ain't just Tom doing that but God in Tom doing that! People who are "super-capable" are especially in need of this because it's not just their talents that are important to the church, but their reliance upon God's power to serve the church. Important because...
“The evidence of the Spirit's presence is given to each person for the common good of everyone.” 1 Corinthians 12:7 GWT
What is the evidence of the Spirit's presence? The things he/she does because of God's power (not just their own abilities) within them. Why is the Spirit's Presence given? For the common good! Everyone wins!
B - __________________________ .
“Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of ... wisdom.” Acts 6:3b NIV
What is wisdom?
Different than knowledge. Different than smarts. Some of the most knowledgable, smartest people you may know could also be foolish (unwise!) Wisdom is the pragmatic side of knowledge. Not just what you know but how you apply what you know. Common sense. Street smarts! Look how someone handles their life before putting them into a ministry / leadership position!
Where does wisdom come from?
“To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth... This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiastes 6:26 NIV
Want to be wise? Ask God for wisdom! He wants to give it to you. Remember the story of Solomon who went asked what he wanted most said "wisdom." God granted that and then everything else too! God wants to give you wisdom even more than you want to ask for it!
What is wisdom from God like?
“The wisdom that comes from God is first of all pure, then peaceful, gentle, and easy to please. This wisdom is always ready to help those who are troubled and to do good for others. It is always fair and honest.” James 3:17 NCV
In other words, wisdom from God is never given to us just for our own benefit or for our own selfish desires. God gives us wisdom to HELP others! God grants us wisdom TO DO GOOD for others. So first request is - clear me up of my own selfishness. Help me to see others with the same love that You have God! Is this your prayer today?