Summary: How Jethro's principle can help us structure for spiritual health (small groups).
Exodus 18:13-26 13And so it was, on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening. 14So when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?” 15And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16When they have a difficulty, they come to me, and I judge between one and another; and I make known the statutes of God and His laws.” 17So Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you do is not good. 18Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself. 19Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. 20And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. 21Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 22And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you. 23If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace.” 24So Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. 25And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people: rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 26So they judged the people at all times; the hard cases they brought to Moses, but they judged every small case themselves.
Intro. Should the church be like a general store or a supermarket? In a general store usually there is one counter with one person who likely owns the store and works hard to assist all customers. The store carries a variety of needs, many of which the counter person must reach or find for the customer and all customers must check out and pay at that one counter. The supermarket also carries a variety of products, most of which are arranged so customers can pick themselves and place in a shopping cart. The supermarket likely has a wider array of items and many more customers. What if it only had one check out stand like the general store? Would that help or hinder things? Well, it doesn't have only one. Because of the need to help more customers, supermarkets added multiple check out counters, express lanes, even self check out, and most have a customer service counter to handle situations beyond the scope of the checker. Why? When you add more customers you add a greater variety of needs and one person could not possibly handle all of that.
How does this relate to the church? In any local church are a variety of people at different places in their walk with the Lord. Some are able to find ways to help themselves but all need people to walk alongside them, answer questions, sort out issues, etc. relating to spiritual growth and relationship to God and others. If a church serves a few families of similar age, background, level of maturity, etc., it may be possible for one person to provide all the advice, friendship, examples, etc., they need but when you have several generations, marital statuses, economic backgrounds, levels of spiritual development, passions, interests, etc., it soon becomes almost impossible to operate like a general store. In order for one person to serve everyone most would be waiting their turn far too long and the ministry would not be effective.
As a local church with a range of peoples at varying levels of spiritual need, we must find a way to structure our activities and ministry offerings so that we effectively assist the greatest part of our congregation to make real spiritual progress, so individuals can look at themselves and know they are growing in their love for God and their love for others and really becoming Christ-like in character. We think that the advice given by Moses father-in-law, Jethro, is sage and wise advice that can guide us in creating a structure with easy and obvious steps everyone can take to assist their spiritual development.