Here’s the link to Acts 6.
The disciples were increasing in number, we’re told in our passage. More people were coming to faith in Jesus through the preaching ministry of the apostles and the witness of the church.
We might think today of a growing church congregation.
All good and wonderful, to see people experience new life in Christ. What follower of Jesus doesn’t want this to happen?
But it does mean more to think about. It means more responsibility. It means a greater number of needs. And in our passage we see that some of the needy were being overlooked in the charitable distribution of food.
To alleviate the issue, the twelve apostles instructed the rest of the disciples to appoint seven men to take on the task of making sure everyone’s needs were met.
I want to highlight four things about this that are interesting. First, the leaders are not the ones responsible for everything being done or to micro-manage the ministry. How many times has someone said, “That’s the pastor’s job”? or “That’s why we pay a pastor”? I know a pastor who retired a few years ago who made a list of everything he regularly took responsibility for in the church during his 20 years there. It was several pages! It makes me ask: How have we disabled the body of Christ by assuming the pastor does everything? How many pastors have disabled the body of Christ because of an inability to let go of control and instead equip others for the work of ministry as the Scriptures say?
Second, there’s the recognition of distinct roles in the life of the church. Not everyone has the same duties or calling. There’s the recognition, too, that there are important aspects of church life besides preaching and teaching. The different roles while distinct, are all necessary to the life of the family of faith.
Third, there are still important spiritual qualifications for those serving in various roles. The seven men to be appointed had to be men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom. So it wasn’t only those in leadership who had to be qualified. This speaks to how everyone participating in the life of the church, serving in all the available ways, are a part of the witness of the church. It’s not only what we do as church members that matters, but how we do it as well.
Fourth, the church has to be flexible according to the situation. The growing New Testament church had to adjust itself to what was happening. Needs determine the shape of ministry. While churches often find change difficult, we have to be willing to change according to changing circumstances in order to serve well. It’s not changing the core of the gospel, of what we believe, but rather how we embody that good news and live it out. In fact, it’s because of our core beliefs that we should be willing to change in order to be more effective in ministering to others. That’s what the church did in the book of Acts. It’s also what we should be doing.
One thought on “Reflections on the Book of Acts #6: Seven Men”
Like your talk on Acts. Just recently finished Acts and Romans and starting 1 Cor…, see the theme … focus on Paul and his ministry
Blessings on you and your writings Linda Sent from my iPhone