Summary: This message looks at the challenges of a growing changing congregation.
July 14, 2013
Opening words: After a one week absence we return to the Books of Acts. You know the story. Jesus was executed on a Friday. Everyone thought it was over. However, everyone was wrong. (I love it when everyone is wrong!) It was just the beginning. On Sunday morning a few women showed up at his tomb to pay their final respects. They made a discovery that changed the world. Jesus was alive! For forty days walked the face of this world in his resurrected state. During that sacred time period, he did two things. First, he proved his was a bodily resurrection. In other words, he wasn’t a ghost. Second, he taught about the Kingdom of God. As Jesus ascended into heaven he entrusted the ministry to the disciples. On their own, the task of evangelizing the world seemed impossible but when the Holy Spirit arrived everything seemed possible. The church was created and the divine helper was changing lives. For example, on a single day 3,000 people claimed the name of Jesus and were saved. They devoted themselves to the apostles teachings, to the fellowship and to worship. The apostles were changing too. They were learning how to trust the Holy Spirit. With the help of the Holy Spirit, Peter healed a man who had been crippled from birth. For this act of kindness, Peter and John were arrested and interrogated by the Sanhedrin. Upon their release the church prayed. As we learned two weeks ago, the one thing the early church would not accept was hypocrisy. That leads us to today.
We are in the sixth chapter. The church continues to grow forcing the group dynamics of the church to change. You know it is true. Everyone says they want church growth but not everyone likes change. How do you feel about church growth? How do you feel about change? I will warn you now. This message hits close to home. May God give you ears to hear this morning’s scripture lesson, Acts 6:1-7. Let me call this message Growing Pains.
Acts 6:1-7 1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.