“Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists…” Acts 6:1
When the number of believers is increasing, why do those who already believe find reasons to complain? Surely there are many answers to that question we could bemoan, but I think this passage points out two very legitimate ones: Lack of organization and lack of empowerment.
The Church was caring for the widows in their community, and as the number of believers increased, some of the needy started being neglected. Reading this passage, I don’t get the impression that the disciples had suddenly stopped caring about the widows, or that they had become focused on another area of ministry in an unbalanced way. Instead, they’d simply reached the limit on what they could do while also attending to the mission of spreading the Gospel. So, they organized.
vs. 3 “…seek out seven men we may appoint over this business…”
The disciples were extremely selective, appointing men who were known to be of good character, full of wisdom and the Holy Spirit. They prayed over them. They commissioned them for their task. Then, they set them over the ministry to widows and went back to sharing the Gospel. Do you know what happened next?
Again! The number continued to grow. They continued to multiply, which suggests they probably ran into the same issue again in the future. But now, they had a method for making sure ministry to believers would continue while they evangelized.
It’s a cycle: Grow. Organize. Empower. Grow. Organize. Empower.
This pattern must be continually repeated; if it does, neither the lost, nor the found, are neglected by the Church.
Do you find yourself stuck in any of these areas?
If your growth has plateaued, perhaps it’s time to evaluate your staff’s ability to focus on reaching out due to too many responsibilities ministering to current church members. It might be time to organize and empower some leaders – whether staff or volunteers – to do the work of ministering to church members.
If you find yourself dealing with complaints (as all pastors do from time to time!), take some time to evaluate their source. Has growth created a need to organize and empower some people to minister to needs within the church?
This passage makes it clear that it is good for those called to evangelize to prioritize spreading the Gospel, but the Apostles understood that it takes all people walking in their gifts to maintain the health and well-being of the Church. They also made it a priority to organize and empower other leaders to walk in their giftedness for the edification of the Body.