Summary: This devotion was given at a Deacon Ordination as the "Charge to the Church"
Charge to the Church
* Tonight we gather as a church to ordain, as Deacons, these three men whom we have identified as qualified and selected as those who can and will assume this “servant-leader” role.
* As far as I can tell the first ordination service was held as a result of a problem in the church at Jerusalem. Although the word “deacon” is not used in Acts 6, certainly the spirit of the office of deacon begins here and is affirmed by at least 2 of these original seven being called “deacon” later in scripture.
* Turn with me to this familiar text and, as a church, let’s be reminded of the lessons to be learned from this situation. (read)
* There exist so many lessons to be learned in this passage that we could make this an 8-10 part series instead of an 8-10 minute overview. As a side note, one of the sad parts of the institutional church today is this; most feel like we have little to learn about the church and what the Bible teaches.
* In reading this text one of the first things which jump off of the page is that this church was a growing church. This church was “multiplying” not adding. Many if not most would say, “I prefer growing pains over dying pains.” However, growing pains hurt just as much or more than dying pains. In the growth of this church, some things began slipping through the cracks and were not getting done.
* From reading historians and theologians, the thought is that the Pastors (multiple) were already neglecting their calling of prayer and preaching to wait tables. The term “waiting tables” make perfect sense in light of this first century church. It was literally at a table where provisions would be given, resources disbursed, and even money given. (Some of the people were even called “tablers”) The truth is that some things were being missed in ministry because there the Pastors were attempting to do it all.
* So the complaint comes in the form of murmuring. Now we see the clash of two cultures inside the fellowship, Hebrews and Hellenist. It is safe to assume that race & culture played a part.
* The complaint was brought to the “Twelve” and it seems there was no blame-game or fault-finding going on, just simply the statement of the problem. The church recognized their leadership, trusted their leaders, and even responded to them.
* Have you ever considered why the Holy Spirit inspired James to write, “Consider it great joy, whenever you experience various trials?” And have you considered that this verse might not just be written for individuals but also for churches families? Consider this; when problems comes (and they will) what is the outcome?
* As we have gathered here to ordain these men, it would serve us well to come to a new understanding of what problems could offer to this body. Let me offer a few opportunities which problems give to us
a) To examine ministry – When a problem comes to a fellowship can be the perfect time to do a ministry checkup. Too often church families think that what was setup 30 years earlier is still viable today. Obviously, the text teaches us that, only after a short time, the ministry of the twelve had flaws. Many believe the Twelve had attempted to perform all the ministry themselves and had left their calling to do other things. Now, faced with these problems, they had to examine and evaluate how they were doing things.
b) To exercise faith – Please notice that the people exercise their faith not only in the Lord but in each other. This problem could have been very destructive. The body could have insisted that the Twelve “do it all” and dwarf the work. They could have played the blame game. But their faith told them that their leaders wanted to honor God and would seek a solution.
c) To express love – Not only does the Word of God say this, but the Spirit of God teaches us to “Love one another. When the body selected the 7, they elected 6 Hellenistic and one Gentile proselyte. This speaks to their determination to reach across cultural lines and express love to everyone. But not just love.
d) To exhibit confidence – In reading this passage of scripture, it is obvious to me that these people had confidence and trust in their leaders and in each other. Nothing energizes a church family as much as trust that the leadership that has integrity and competence. May I offer one more thought about having confidence. Quite likely, the entire church membership was not present. One reason this is believed, is because there was no place for have that many people together. The church at Jerusalem met daily from house to house so the conjecture is that the leaders of each small group gathered OR those in attendances were those who had a personal interest. Whoever was present, the rest of the church exhibited their confidence to get the problem resolved.