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Read Acts 6.

The first church conflict ...

The Work of the 12

  1. Ministry of the Word (Apostles Teaching)
  2. Ministry of Prayer
  3. Ministry of Tables – (Service is a form of worship)

Faced With Problems – Why do they have problems? Why the conflict?

  1. Growth – The community is growing larger and the challenges of sustaining are getting tougher. Growth causes the groups to grow anxious.
  2. Culture Clash – Add to this anxiety the problem of cultural differences. All of these believers are Jews, but they have grown up over the generations in different cultures. The Hellenists are influenced by Greek culture, the Hebraic Jews have grown up in their homeland and preserved the old paths. Hellenistic/Greek believers would have grown up with a different language and a different outlook. They would have been accepting of cultural differences that the Hebraic believers would not. The Hebraic Jews probably looked down on the Hellenistic Jews because they believed that they were compromisers. The Hellenistic Jews probably considered the Hebraic Jews as backwards and odd.
  3. Need for Resources
    1. Why are the Hellenistic widows being overlooked? Maybe the Hellenistic believers aren’t giving like they should. If there was an abundance, then no one would be overlooked. This isn’t a managerial, administration issue. The problem isn’t in the delivery. It may be on the collection side. Leaders among the Greeks are needed to inspire sharing.

Arriving at a Solution

  1. Sharing Leadership – The 12 are not anxious leaders. They know that the church belongs to God and that Christ is completely in charge. So, the Holy Spirit appoints leaders (they’ve already tested that in Chap 1)
  2. Empowering Service – They are able to share their leadership. Moses shared leadership with judges. The kings of Israel were appointed by God’s spirit. Prophets were empowered to speak according to God’s spirit. Why do we assume its any different with the church?
  3. Giving Authority
    1. The 12 trust the 7. They share authority with them
    2. All authority in the church is in Christ. All authority is shared authority. This is God’s church.
    3. Authority is not a choke chain that reels the 7 in when they make a mistake. They are not holding a paycheck or excommunication over the head of these men.

Criteria for Leaders – So who do you give authority to?

  1. Holy Spirit
  2. Wisdom

The criteria are not men who have experience in food service. They do not need to be men who have been successful in their business and careers. They need to be people who are caught up in the spirit of God that has been the mark of leaders in the last 5 chapters. The fruit of the spirit will be obvious in their lives.

Also, they need wisdom – wisdom is a quality that has to do with doing the right thing. It is discernment. It’s different than simply keeping rules, holding to tradition (the way its always been done), or following policy (sheepwalking).

Leadership ...
There are not slots and stations in the church (i.e. a corporation or the military) One can move up when a slot comes open. These are organizations that focus on rank and function. The job is more important than the mission. One fills a slot (featherbedding). Different sorts of leaders are needed depending on the mission and the church is allowed the creativity to shape leadership to a certain degree to accomplish the mission. No, you do not need a pulpit minister to accomplish the mission. But as long as you do have one, then the goal must be to accomplish God’s mission. Not just to fulfill a set of tasks. There is a ministry of the word and a ministry of prayer and a ministry of service. Who does it and in what capacity is an open matter.


  1. Unity -- Unity is not simply making people happy. It is moving them through anxiety to God’s peace. Unity can be hard work. It doesn’t mean everyone agrees about every detail, but it does mean that there is respect rooted in the holiness of God. It doesn’t mean that there are never problems or conflicts, but it does mean that we believe in proposals that can benefit everyone and bring glory to God. (Rather than the “my way or I’m hitting the highway” attitude – they are not church customers. They are unified)

  2. More Growth – Notice that more people are being added to the church. That’s God’s work. When God sees a body of believers who can empower leaders who are wise and full of the holy spirit, when God recognizes a group that cares for one another and can work out problems, then he trusts them with “his kids.”
    1. Who do we trust with our kids?
    2. Who do we trust with our pets?

  3. More Leadership – The 7 are committed to the ministry of the table and they end up doing word and prayer. I think the 12 also served on tables, too.

  4. More Service - More leadership means more service (John 13) – the leader serves. If you serve, then you are a leader. You are teaching others.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 20 September 2009

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