Summary: This message includes an ordination service for our new deacons follwed by them serving their first Lord’s supper. The message is directed to the new deacons and their responsibilities. The text makes it clear why we need deacons and the valuable work
Deacons: God’s Men for the Hour
We have been studying the book of Acts now for the past ten weeks and it is in this very book that we find the origin of the office of deacon. It is not surprising that deacons were put into place due to problems that had developed in the early church . Much of the ministry of the apostle Paul through his letters to the churches tells us that the early church had multiple problems. They encountered problems with false teachers teaching their own ideas rather than what the Bible actually says.
There were problems with leadership in the church. Often men and women were placed in positions of leadership before they were really prepared. People were entrusted with places of ministry and they were not ready to lead. Leadership is a serious matter. It as been said, everything rises and falls on leadership. If something good happens, usually a leader did something right; if something not so good happens, many times a leader has made a mistake.
As we have walked through the book of Acts we have watched as the church has grown. From 120 to 3120 to over 5000. V. 1 tells us it continued. The church was alive and where there is Life there is Growth. When things are healthy they grow. When plants are properly watered and nurtured and cared for they grow.
The scripture shows us principles that teach us that where there is Life there is Growth. Jesus reminded us that even a mustard seed can create enough force to move a mountain of we believe. He reminded us that He is the resurrection and the life. He reminds us that a little bit of leaven can change everything and that even the dead can come back to life when they encounter our living Lord. No matter what our situation might be things change when God is involved.
v. 1 tells us the number was increasing, one version says it was multiplying. Where there is life there is growth. But unfortunately we find another principle here and it is this: (2) where there is Growth there are problems. Here’s the thing. God wants to multiply the church, Satan wants to divide the church. The math is different. This was never more true than in the early church which included two groups of widows-Greeks and Hebrews. The Greek widows felt neglected. In this day there was no welfare program so there was no other way to help than through the church .
The church was having what I like to call growing pains. Growing pains are natural, they are a part of life. They are also necessary. Because they challenge us to move forward. So these growing pains required the attention of the leadership of the church. Clearly God had given the responsibility to take care of these widows to the church. Now it was not intentional, but these widows were being overlooked. The apostles had simply been very busy and they had not had time to handle these matters.
V. 2 Now this may sound insensitive that they would put God’s word above waiting on the people but the apostles were establishing their priorities. The knew the problem was real but they also knew they were not the ones to take care of it. In seminary one of my preaching professors told me David “you may spend all night sitting with a family, because of something they may be going through-but of you are not prepared to preach when you come to the pulpit on Sunday, the rest of the congregation will not understand.
Where there are problems there are solutions. So here was the solution they came up with. Vv. 3-4. Now here’s the thing. The people didn’t care whether they were being ministered to by the pastor or the deacons; what they cared about is that they wanted the needs of the widows to be met. Look at verse 5. This proposal pleased the whole group. So they make the selection-they chose 7 men...they are named here.
One thing is clear here...the people chose the deacons, not the apostles, not the pastor. That is what we have dome here in our church and you have chosen these men. And they will be coming in a moment to be ordained. We are following the example in v.6. Now before we ordain these men look with me at v. 6-7. Where there is life there is growth, where there is growth, there are problems, where there are problems there are solutions and where there are solutions there is even more growth. In a real sense there are now 10 other pastors besides myself carrying out the ministry of the church. They will assist with benevolence, will help oversee the finances of the church and will do family ministry. Family ministry will be their biggest task.