Summary: The early church’s response to an internal problem teaches the contemporary church some valuable lessons.

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* The dramatic growth of the early church: last count (4:4) around 5,000 men (probably around 20,000 total)

* Such growth led to a “good” problem: many more needed to be ministered to than there were people to minister

* The 12 did not have the ability to both effectively deliver the Word and minister to all the needs in the congregation

* Text: the church’s response to the problem reminds the church today of some valuable lessons

1. Focus is to be turned inward after it has been turned outward

* Difference between inward focus (us/those within the church) and outward focus (them/those outside the church)

* Focus up to this point in the book has been outward

- Their task started with those without Christ and the challenge they were given to reach out (1:1-11)

- They got organized and fulfilled Scripture in order to reach out as effectively as possible (1:12-26)

- The Holy Spirit arrives to empower them to reach out (2:1-41)

- They experience dynamic fellowship with each other so that they would be on the same page and reach out (2:42-27)

- Reaching out commences in earnest (chapters 3-5)

* THEN, after focusing on reaching others lost in sin, they reach inward

* They were fulfilling their primary mission...then they could look inward

* Churches often reverse the process today and look outward only after they are satisfied with how they’ve looked inward (problem: inward satisfaction is rarely achieved)

* Early church reminds us that our first priority is to get the gospel to those who have yet to accept it...then to find a balance of focus

* The church has no business looking inward if it has not yet attempted to look outward

* If the balance does not occur...

- Failure to have an outward focus = lost are not reached and we are held accountable

- Failure to have an inward focus = needs go unmet and we fail to be a true family of faith

2. Satan will use an unbalanced focus to divide the church (v. 1)

* Something deeper was at work than just unmet needs: Satan hoped to use this problem to divide the church

* Satan knew (and still knows) that division brings disaster = Mark 3:25

* The reality is that at times our focus will become unbalanced. However, we can keep division from occurring when our focus is unbalanced by following a few biblical principles...

A. Stay away from divisive people (Rom. 16:17-18)

B. Treat everyone in the church equally (1 Cor. 12:21-25)

C. Stay united on the mission of God (John 20:21)

D. Give priority to Christ above all others (1 Cor. 1:10-13)

3. The practical priority of church leadership is the Word of God (v. 2-4)

* The 12 are not saying that “waiting on tables” isn’t important or that its beneath them

* The 12 are saying that “the ministry of the Word of God” was their most important task as leaders in the church

* Ephesians 4:11-13

* By neglecting the ministry of the Word of God, the congregation is doomed to spiritual infancy

* Paul’s philosophy of the pastor’s task = 1 Cor. 9:16

4. Service to others must be done by those who are spiritual (v. 3-6)

* Similar situation faces the church today that was present in the church in Acts: the body of Christ is called to minister to each other

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