Seven Chosen to Serve
6 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists1 arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers,2 pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, ta proselyte of Antioch. 6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.
7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
A complaint arose...
I find it interesting that the church grew from complaints. ... no the church grew from prayerfully and humbly listening to the complaints of some in the community.
About 2 years ago our love team said to me, "We don't know where the needs are". Help us pastor mark. Some don't know what the love team is. Their mission is to do good to those who can't do good back (meals, rides and $ support).
They cannot meet the needs of everyone, but they "do for one what we wish we could do for everyone."
In our passage, they learn what the needs are by listening to others.
These next 5 weeks we will be doing this for the following groups:
Sunday, February 18th, 2024 (2/18/24) - Single young adults in the church
Sunday, February 25th, 2024 (2/25/24) - women from Alpha Parenting
Sunday, March 3rd, 2024 (3/3/24) - people who we disagree with
Sunday, March 10th, 2024 (3/10/24) - members on the margins
Sunday, March 17th, 2024 (3/17/24) - newcomers
It is my prayer that we will be like the hebraic Jews in our text today, They are a legacy culture (presumably, more situated in Jerusalem, more connected, more influential). They listen. It is my prayer that we could do the same.
If you have been here 5 years or longer you are part of the "legacy culture" at the village. You have built this place, I honour your. We (i put myself in this group) also have a special opportunity...to listen!
2. Everyone has a role
"pick out from among you"
i find it interesting that the apostles did not need to give their decision to all the disciples to make, but they did. Why? Why give that authority?
It seems that there is a space for this kind of group discernment work in the church.
I am not sure what this looks like here, but in April we will be holding another congregational meeting. My prayer is that there is input that you can give into this meeting related to these groups that we feel called to listen to and serve.
1 Tim/2 Tim - you have the structure changing. Paul is appointing other leaders and the church is growing.
3. Support new people in their calling - church grows
"pick out from among you" seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering" as a church we are learning how to do this, appoint new leaders.
In summer for the city we gave young people the opportunity to lead.
in dinner church we are giving others the opportunity to lead.
It starts from the leadership seeing a need to empower others, but for this to actually work, each one of us listening to the unique calling the Lord has put on our paths.
Lord, give me ears to hear the needs around me.
We were studying the bible recently and someone said, "Wow, i did not know that the apostles also healed people?" When the structure changes, with Jesus appointing others to carry on his work - God works in new ways. People are healed who would not have been, if Jesus did not appoint them to their roles.
In our passage we read, "and the word of God continued to increase" (v7). It is implied in the text that the reason for this is that the church is keeping in step with the new things that God is doing. This is my prayer for our community. To simply keep in step.
NOTE: The Spirit often speaks in community. For that reason, I value group discernment on a text. The purpose of this exercise is to find the "gold gospel nugget" of the text for today. Thank you for your unique perspective and allowing the Spirit to speak through you.
A) Of all that thoughts above on the text, including your own, which 1 or 2 points speak to you most? And why?
B) I am curious about your perspective on how this passage connects with:
your story, current experience or sense of what God has been speaking to you about personally.
our broader culture today
other times, places and Scriptures
C) What do you learn in a fresh way about God, people or life that you could aspire to, ask for or act on?