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Summary: The purpose and role of deacons.

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INTRO>John Seamands tells the story of a German soldier who was wounded and ordered to go to a military hospital for treatment. When he arrived, he saw two doors. One was marked, “For the slightly wounded,” and the other was labeled, “For the seriously wounded.” He entered through the first door and found himself going down a long hall. At the end of the hall were two more doors, one marked, “For officers,” and the other marked, “For non-officers.” He entered through the second door and found himself going down another long hall. At the end were two more doors, one marked, “For party members,” and the other, “For non-party members.” He took the second door, and when he opened it he found himself out in the street. When he returned home, his mother asked him, “How did you get along at the hospital?” He explained, “Well, mom, to tell the truth, the people there didn’t do anything for me, but you ought to see the tremendous organization they have!”

In a similar way, there is what is called the Gadarene Swine Law: “Merely because the group is in formation doesn’t mean the group is on the right course.”

Have you ever wondered why churches are organized, structured the way they are...what the leaders are supposed to do?

That’s what we can learn from today’s text.

Let’s open a Bible and turn again to Acts, chapter six.

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Today is the final message in the series, “Mission Possible,” as we’ve looked at the beginning of the church.

We’ve seen in “Jumping For Joy” how we need to be accessible to others and available for the Lord to work through us in impacting lives.

In “Reaching For Victory” we focused on our true message.

In “Keeping On Keeping On” we saw how we need to expect persecution, but are never to stop proclaiming the Gospel.

In “Shock and Awe” we saw how easy it can be to get off-centered, focusing on ourselves rather than trusting God’s awesome power.

And in “Out and About” we saw how God’s power is greater than prison walls, and serving Him comes with the “privilege” of suffering.

Today, in “Table Waiting 101” we’re going to look at how the 21st century church has been called to continue the mission to a much different world than the 1st century, but how we get our instructions from Scripture that was inspired by God and written in the 1st century.

Someone has defined efficiency as “doing things right” and effectiveness as “doing the right things.”

<>In its simplest form, churches are to be organized so they do the right things in the right way.

---ILL>When I first came to Phoenix, I came to serve as the Director of Student Ministry at the North Phoenix Baptist Church. My specific job description was to oversee every ministry within the church to students from the 7th grade through college. The church had 23,000 members, and about 4,000 of those were teenagers or college students on the Bible Study rolls. Within the student ministry itself my job was to give leadership to and oversee the work of 200 adult workers, 4 paid youth workers, and 2 secretaries. The church had 22 full-time ordained ministers and 18 full-time administrative assistants, as well as 34 full-time office helpers who served as accountants, clerks, receptionists, custodians, food service helpers, etc., and a 6-person t.v. production staff.

Needless to say, that was a very unusual organization, an unusual kind of church structure.

->Most churches have a pastor, and, if they have a second paid staff member, he or she is usually a worship leader or combination of worship and youth leader, or singles minister, education minister, mission pastor, etc.

->Some might ask, “What’s the right organization? How should a church be structured?”

---How many staff members should a church have?

---How should the volunteers be organized?

<>A correct understanding flows out of the Biblical instruction of the role of deacons, seen here and in 1 Timothy.

<>Understand, before we look at the Biblical officers, that every believer is an important part of the church accomplishing its mission.

---ILL>During World War II, England needed to increase its production of coal. Winston Churchill called together labor leaders to enlist their support. At the end of his presentation he asked them to picture in their minds a parade which would be held in Picadilly Circus after the war. First, he said, would come the sailors who had kept the vital sea lanes open. Then would come the soldiers who had come home from Dunkirk and then went on the defeat Rommel in Africa. Then would come the pilots who had driven the Luftwaff from the sky. Last of all would come a long line of sweat-stained, soot-streaked men in miners’ caps. Someone would cry from the crowd, “and where were you doing the critical days of our struggle?” And from ten thousand throats would come the answer, “We were deep in the earth with our faces to the coal.”

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