part 4

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Read Acts 1:15–26. There was a need in the church. They were only 120 strong, but they were filled with new hope and expectation. However, when Eleven of Jesus’ apostles gathered together to teach and serve the others there was that empty seat reminding them of Judas’ betrayal. It was Peter who broke the tension and named what could have gone unspoken. Quoting Scripture he said, “May another take his place of leadership.”
And God allowed this group of prayerful and trusting leaders to make a choice with his involvement. Notice how they were blessed: Instead of an empty chair or a memory of betrayal, they discovered that there were two men among them capable of leading as apostles. There were two among them who could witness to the works and teaching of Jesus Christ. And they are blessed because through their prayers and their process of casting lots they become God’s instrument to call out leaders for the needs of the church.
Nothing more is specifically said of either one of these men. I don’t know why not, but maybe this should show us that even though Matthias is chosen, Justus is also affirmed. The way Luke describes that time in the church’s life I think it is safe to assume that both of them served as Christ-like leaders in the way the church needed them to do.

Read Acts 6:1-7 – There was a need in the growing church. The church had become more diverse and they were meeting the needs of more people. The Twelve were responsible for the distribution of food, but they were also especially responsible for the ministry of the Word and prayer. Instead of holding all that authority, they shared it. And once again the church, even this diverse church that was made up of different cultures, attitudes, and troubled with a little bit of conflict – even this church became the instrument that God used to call out leaders for the needs of the church. And the church was blessed again: The proposal to add seven new leaders to serve in the distribution of food pleased the whole group. Conflict gave way to agreement in the Holy Spirit. Notice the conclusion of the episode: “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.” The word of God spread because leadership was shared.

Principles for Searching Out Shepherds:

How all of these principles shape our current process ...

  1. We are confident that the West-Ark congregation is capable of being the instrument that God uses to identify and recognize men of Christ-like character and filled with a godly spirit. As sheep, we recognize our shepherds.
  2. So, the initial phase of this process (Jan 28 to Feb 4) involves every baptized member of this congregation. We want each of you to take a form and write on that form the names of the men whom you regard to be shepherds.
  3. This is neither a popular vote nor a simple nomination for office. If there is a man that many of you regard as a shepherd, that does indicate something that our current elders will certainly consider. What we are actually asking you to do is to name those men whom you consider a shepherd and whom you would recommend to the rest of the congregation as shepherds. Don’t worry whether anyone else names the same men you do. Don’t think you shouldn’t name someone if someone else has already named them. Don’t think you shouldn’t name someone if no one else names them. We ask you to reflect your own convictions after prayer and study.
  4. Since we are convinced that God’s spirit is working through this entire process, we ask you to give this serious consideration. You really need more to go on than just choosing someone because he will be “your man in office” or because you think he’s neat or you want to balance power because you know who your friend is nominating and you think you know how that will effect the church. Those are trivial and faithless approaches to searching out shepherds. We can do better than that. God’s in control and let’s open ourselves to his will.
  5. After February 4th when all the forms are submitted, the current elders will shepherd the nominees. They will approach them and discuss their interest in serving as elders. (Of course that doesn’t prevent you from encouraging the men you want to name, you may do so.) Now, as the current elders work with these men who’ve been named they will be equipped by the “response” you have given them. Remember, the current elders are also God’s instrument in this process. They are working cooperatively with the flock.
  6. So, your first task is to pray, study, and recommend those you recognize as good shepherds. Fill out the form, sign it, and get it into the drop box before Feb. 4. This is our opportunity to be a part of what God is doing to provide leadership for his people. This is how we ought to live our lives and our life together – as though God is always working through us. ...

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 28 January 2007

Like a Shepherd Lead Us
“Searching For Shepherds”
January 28, 2007

Acts 1:15-26

  1. The church discovers t_____   ___________ capable of leading.

  2. The church becomes God’s instrument for c__________   ______ leaders for the n____________ of the church.

Acts 6:1-7

  1. The p___________ to add seven new leaders p_______ the whole church.

  2. The word of God s_________ because leadership was s__________. (v. 7)

Principles for Searching Out Shepherds

  1. God uses the ________ to call out leaders for the needs of the _________.

  2. Leadership comes from a__________ and b___________.

  3. Leadership in the church is f_______________ rather than o___________.

  4. Leadership in the church is s______________.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 28 January 2007

Link to Elder Nomination Form {21KB MS Word document}

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