Summary: Someone once said, Christians become very unchristian when they get organized.
Someone once said, Christians become very unchristian when they get organized. Some of us here today may agree with that statement. One side of the church is affirming the power of Christ in His church and likes church polity. Others believe the church should reject formal organization and structure and just flow with the Spirit. Such a loose, unorganized model of the church, however, underestimates the strength of the flesh and is inconsistent with the character of God. All creation reflects the highly organized nature of its Creator.
Others would say we should structure the church like a fortune 500 company, complete with detailed organizational charts, job descriptions, boards, committees, and subcommittees. They hope the Holy Spirit will operate within their rigid framework.
Both extremes are wrong though, the church is neither a highly contrived corporation nor a loose commune, but an organism. The church is both an organic unity and an operative life principle, since all its members are connected together to Christ the head of the church.
The early church set the example of a living, interdependent organism for us. Their unity and power gave them a testimony that swept through Jerusalem. As a result even unbelievers held the church in high regard. Something we don’t see today.
A biblical church organization always responds to needs and to what the Spirit is already doing. To organize a program and then expect the Holy Spirit to get involved in it is to put the cart before the horse. We dare not try to force the Spirit to fit our mold.
In Acts chapter 6 the church faced its first serious organizational crisis. To eliminate a potentially divisive problem required further organization. It’s from this first organizational meeting that I want us to see four features that stand out: the reason, the requirements, the roster, and the results.
I. The Reason (vv. 1-2, 4)
a. The church of Jerusalem had grown to approximately 20,000
i. Without means of mass communication, the leadership and administrative problems associated with such a large congregation were enormous.
ii. Merely to meet their spiritual needs and to deal with sin would have been a daunting task, let alone caring for their physical needs.
b. Another reason was that they had fulfilled the first part of the Lord’s four part charge to them.
i. They had saturated Jerusalem with the gospel message and had begun to reach out to the surrounding region.
c. In a church that size it was inevitable that someone’s needs would be overlooked.
i. Those the problem arose in verse 1
ii. Here was an issue that Satan could use with devastating force against the church.
1. Satan tried to persecute the church, but it only grew faster
2. Satan tried to cripple the church by introducing sin into the body, but God stepped in quickly and judged Ananias and Sapphira.
3. Now Satan was trying to create dissension within the church.
a. A church rocked by internal conflict finds its message lost in conflict.
b. Thus a church will focus on self and not on God.
d. Before the church could evangelize the Gentile world, they would have to deal with this division between the Hellenistic Jews and the native Hebrews
i. The Hellenists complained and believed that their widows were being over looked during the daily serving of the food deliberately.
1. Carl of widows was traditional in Jewish society, and Paul later defined it as the responsibility of the church
e. This was a problem that the apostles themselves didn’t have the time to handle.
i. It was not desirable for the apostles to neglect the Word of God in order to serve tables.
1. It is important to note here that the word for table, refers to both the money changing and food tables.
ii. To get involved in the matters of food and money would pull them away from their calling.
iii. There priority was praying, preaching, teaching, and studying the Word
iv. Many preachers today have left those priorities and has resulted in a watered down, bloodless, feel good sermon to be preached.
f. Prayer and ministry of the Word are inseparable
i. Prayer must permeate a pastor’s sermon preparation, or his sermons will be superficial.
ii. The Word must be studied, or the preacher is only going to give false doctrine and opinion.
Problem restated: Serve tables or pray and study the Word
II. The Requirements (v.3)
a. The apostles had to remain faithful to their priorities, but the problem still remained.
b. This ministry would have to be overseen by others.
i. So the apostles commanded the believers to select seven men from among themselves and they would have the final say based on the requirements they set.