Summary: The purpose of this sermon is to point to all that a growing church will experience growing pains.
Text: Acts 6:1-7
Title: It Comes with the Territory
Introduction: Herb Miller says, “A cold church, like butter, will not spread. Growing churches have learned how to regulate the congregational thermostat, and they have set it on friendly.” If a church is going to experience growth it must have a climate conducive to growth. Donald Gerig identifies at least six kinds of atmospheres that lend themselves to growth: 1) a positive atmosphere, 2) an atmosphere of trust, 3) an atmosphere of excellence, 4) an atmosphere that is oriented to outreach, 5) an atmosphere of flexibility, and 6) an atmosphere of a serving spirit (which will be discussed later). There are some people who are not comfortable with church growth. The purpose of this sermon is to point out to us that there are certain that comes with the territory of church growth. The church was experiencing “growing pains” and this was making it difficult for the Apostles to minister to everybody.
I. The complaint to the church leaders (6:1)
• complaint, a whispering, grumbling talk in private
the Grecians—the Greek-speaking Jews, mostly born in the provinces. the Hebrews—those Jews born in Palestine who used their native tongue, and were wont to look down on the “Grecians” as an inferior class.
• were neglected—“overlooked” by those whom the apostles employed, and who were probably of the Hebrew class, as being the most numerous. The complaint was in all likelihood well founded, though we cannot suspect the distributors of intentional partiality. “It was really just an emulation of love, each party wishing to have their own poor taken care of in the best manner” [OLSHAUSEN].
• When a church faces a serious problem, this presents the leaders and the members with a number of opportunities.
o church problems give us the opportunity to examine our ministry and discover what changes must be made
o church problems also give us an opportunity to exercise our faith, not only faith in the Lord, but also faith in each other
o church problems also give us the opportunity to express our love
• The Greek-speaking widows feel that the Hebrew-speaking widows are being favored in the daily distribution of food.
II. The conference of the church leaders (6:2–4)
• Their dilemma (6:2) : They want to help but feel they have no time. The Apostles studied the situation and concluded that they were to blame: they were so busy serving tables that they were neglecting prayer and the ministry of the Word of God. They had created their own problem because they were trying to do too much. Even today, some pastors are so busy with secondary tasks that they fail to spend adequate time in study and in prayer. This creates a “spiritual deficiency” in the church that makes it easy for problems to develop.
This is not to suggest that serving tables is a menial task, because every ministry in the church is important. But it is a matter of priorities; the Apostles were doing jobs that others could do just as well. D.L. Moody used to say that it was better to put ten men to work than to try to do the work of ten men. Certainly it is better for you, for the workers you enlist, and for the church as a whole.
• Their decision (6:3) : They determine to select seven men and assign them this task.
• Their duties (6:4) : The leaders believe their ministry should consist of praying, teaching, and preaching.
III.. The choice by the church leaders (6:5–7)
• The individuals (6:5) : The men chosen for this task are Stephen, Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas.
• The installation (6:6) : The apostles lay hands on the seven and pray for them.
• The increase (6:7) : Soon the number of believers increases, including the conversion of many Jewish priests!
(Weeden, Larry K.: The Magnetic Fellowship : Reaching and Keeping People. Carol Stream, Ill.; Waco, Tex. : CTi; Word Books, 1988 (The Leadership Library 15), S. 29
Willmington, H. L.: The Outline Bible. Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, 1999, S. Ac 6:7)