Service with Strategy (Acts 6:1-7)

Does it matter what sort of church you belong to? There are churches where the bishop calls the shots or what the minister says, goes. There are churches governed by elders. Does the way the church is organized matter? Really?

Maybe you’re thinking, ‘Oh, great. A sermon on church government.’ But even though how the church runs isn’t a Gospel issue directly, bad organisation can be a huge barrier to Gospel ministry.

It’s not enough to be a church where the Gospel is preached. Ask people who don’t go to church anymore: some left because of the teaching; some leave because of conflicts with others; but some leave because they aren’t able to serve, or when they volunteer, they aren’t allowed to do what they’re meant to do because ‘that’s not the way we do things here’ or they spend more time on the committee organizing the work than they do doing the work.

A badly organised church is still a church, but the Devil can use bad organisation to frustrate the church from doing Gospel work.

The night before He was crucified, Jesus spoke to the disciples in the Upper Room.  He described Himself as ‘the vine.” Those who are attached to Him by faith, He says, “you are the branches,” (John 15:5).

The main point of what Jesus is saying is that for the branches of a vine to grow, they need to be attached to the vine: “Without Me, you can do nothing,” John 15:5b.

But we could draw out other implications from Jesus’ picture. Australian pastors Colin Marshall and Tony Payne did so in their book The Trellis and The Vine. For a vine to grow well, it needs something to grow on. The trellis gives the vine shape. Otherwise, it gets tangled and unfruitful.

So, the church needs to be organized. When it is not, the Gospel gets crowded out with administration, and problems between people get worse. We see that here in Acts 6:1-7.

There is a problem in the Church, and the Apostles organize to resolve it. And we should do the same:

  1. Acknowledge the Problem: Partisan Neglect (v1)
  2. Know Your Priorities: Prayer & the Word (v2-4)
  3. Delegate Responsibility: Ordain the Wise & Spirit-filled (v5-6)
  4. The Word & the Disciples Multiply (v7)

Our problems might not be the same, but the solution always is: prioritize prayer and the Word, delegate spiritually qualified people to do the work, then ask God to multiply the Word and the Disciples.

Sunday 2nd September 2018

Review Questions:

  • Why does it matter how the church is organised?
  • The trellis gives _____________ to the vine (John 15:1f)
  • What was the problem (v1)?
  • How do we avoid ‘drones in the church hive’ (Richard Hobson)?
  • What should pastors do (Eph 4:12)?
  • How (v4)?
  • What sort of people should do the practical work (v3)?
  • God wants ___________ sacrifices (Christopher Ash).
  • Where do qualified people come from (v5)?
  • Laying on hands means:
  • It is okay for churches want (and plan) to increase in number (v7)? Yes/No
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • How should I live?
  • Something to pray about:

Published by Stephen McDonald

Christian, preacher, broadcaster

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