Summary: Congregations are not spiritual spas. They’re places where needs are met and people are served.
SERIES: “LESSONS FROM THE EARLY CHURCH”
TEXT: ACTS 6:1-7
TITLE: “A CHURCH THAT SERVES”
OPEN: A. A number of years ago, a team of white-jacketed scientists marched with clipboards in hand into
the barnyard and sat down outside the chicken coop. They were there to observe the chickens.
They saw many things they expected to see – some chickens clucked, some crowed, all
scratched and pecked around in the dirt. But they saw some things they didn’t expect to see.
For example, in the barnyard there was a top chicken, and there was a bottom chicken, and all
other chickens were aligned in a great poultry hierarchy between the top chicken and the bottom
chicken. The top chicken could peck any other chicken he wanted to peck without fear of reprisal.
The bottom chicken could not peck any other chicken without fear of reprisal. So in the “pecking
order,” there were lower chickens, middle chickens, and upper chickens.
One of the dominant features of barnyard life was a constant “jockeying” for a higher pecking
order position. Occasionally, there were serious fights in which the chickens sometimes actually
Very interesting! So the team of scientists picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and left
the barnyard. Then they walked out into the business world and sat down to observe humans.
They saw some things they expected to see. Some humans were tall, some were short, some
were outgoing, and other quiet. But they saw something they didn’t expect to see. In the business
“coops” of the world, there were top humans and bottom humans. And all the other humans were
aligned in a human “pecking order” in between.
And one of the dominant features of life in the business world was “jockeying” for a higher
position in the “pecking order.” Constant squabbles and posturing and faking went on as humans
tried to carve out a higher pecking order position. Occasionally, there were serious fights that
broke out in which humans sometimes actually got hurt. Perhaps not physically but emotionally.
Life in the corporate world was little better than life in the chicken coop.
1. It makes me want to ask: “Is life in the church better than life in the chicken coop?
2. Jesus said in Mk. 10:42-45 – “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles
lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead,
whoever want to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first
must be slave of all. For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to
give his life as a ransom for many.”
B. In our text this evening, we see that a decisions was reached in the Jerusalem church
1. It was a decision to serve the needs of those who had needs
2. Acts 6:1-7 – “In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews
among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked
in the daily distribution of food. 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.
Brothers, 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 4and will give our attention to prayer and the
ministry of the word.’ 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. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and
laid their hands on them. 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.”
C. Let’s look at some of the New Testament principles used by a church that seeks to serve
I. DISSENSION IS DETRIMENTAL
A. So far in Acts, we’ve seen great blessings granted to the first church and have seen several obstacles that
have been overcome
1. Selection of Matthias to fill Judas’ place
2. Two separate appearances before the Sanhedrin
3. The attempt of Ananias and Sapphira to pretend to be something they weren’t
B. Yet, the church is now faced with the most detrimental problem it can face
1. Basically, all arguments can be condensed to: “Is, too!” “Is not!” Is, too!” “Is not!”
2. An old monastery near Bebenhausen, Germany displays two pairs of deer antlers interlocked. They
were found in that position many years ago. The two bucks had been fighting when their horns got