Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: How we can encourage more men to become activiely involved in church


July 2, 2006 a.m.

Hillcrest Baptist Church

Text: Acts 6:1-7

Introduction: The botanical life of most trees is amazing. Often when a tree is damaged and the trunk is cut down, a new shoot will come up out of the stump or roots. As long as the roots are healthy, it will try to live. It will put out new shoots and eventually try to flower and reproduce. It keeps adapting to its circumstances and tries its best to thrive.

Today I brought another kind of tree with me, at least a piece of a tree. This piece of wood that I have today is no longer alive. Somewhere thousands of years ago in Arizona, this tree toppled. It stopped living. Slowly over the years, chemicals began to take the place of the living tissues and this wood became stone. We know it as petrified wood, wood that has become stone.

What was once alive and growing and flexible is now dead and rigid. It can no longer grow. It can no longer reproduce. It cannot bear fruit.

It is like many churches. New churches begin as supple and viable. They grow and reproduce. A new church is a risk-taking church. To begin a new church the members must step out in faith and trust God to bless them. Davis Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going to Church, states: “A growing church is a risk-taking church.” (p. 76).

This kind of church attracts men. A new church needs men. It needs men to help set up and break down after services meeting in a gym or some other type of building. It needs men to help build the new building. A church that needs physical activity draws men like a magnet. Men have a lot to offer start-up churches. Murrow concludes: “Younger churches seem somewhat more successful in attracting and retaining men. This suggests that as a church ages, it loses its men and is unable to attract more” (Murrow, p. 56).

“As a congregation ages,” Murrow continues, “it begins to value feminine gifts such as nurturing, stability, and close-knit community…Women stay loyal because of the relationships they’ve developed, but the less relational men fall away. Men need vision—not just relationships—to stay motivated in church” (pages 56, 57). Without a strong vibrant core of male leadership, the church petrifies. “But when there’s a core of spiritually alive men, the church thrives” (59).

Think about how the church began in Acts 2. Unbelievers saw “A small group of men empowered by the Holy Spirit. This is how the church grew in New Testament times, and it is no different today. Men come to Christ, and by extension, to church when they see other men living under the influence of God’s Spirit” (p. 59)

When the question of leadership arises in the church, it often stops at the pastor. Most members would agree that the pastor is the leader of the church, but it requires the abilities, gifts and talents of more than one person to maintain a healthy church.

We can learn:

I. A Lesson from the Early Church (vv. 1-2)

A division arose early in the life of the church that could have brought the whole movement to a halt. The number of disciples was multiplying. Whenever that happens, the devil gets nervous. He tries to do something to stop forward momentum.

The first obstacle that threatened to divide the church was murmuring. Satan had tried persecution and threats, but that did not divide the church. Instead he used murmuring. The word here means grumbling. This was the same attitude that the children of Israel had back in the desert. They grumbled about the way God took care of them. They complained about the manna. They complained about the lack of leeks and onions. They complained about the lack of meat so God sent quail. He sent so much that the Bible says it came out their nostrils (Numbers 11:20). At least He did not send pork chops!

Satan used the same kind of problem in the early church. It was about food again. Someone began complaining about the other widows. She began to say, “Hey, Doris, look how much food those Hebrew-speaking widows are getting. Look how much we are getting. Hey, Apostles, I’m not being fed here. You better do something about this. You need to stop spending so much time studying the Scriptures and spending so much time leading prayer groups that you neglect your widows. You need to take care of us or we’ll go somewhere else to be fed.” She probably never talked directly to the Apostles. She probably talked to everyone else in her circle of friends except the Apostles.

Satan has not changed his tactics much today. We have not changed either. We get so hung up on our biological side that we neglect our spiritual side. It never says that they asked the Apostles to stop doing what they were doing, so you must read between the lines. Look at their reaction.

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