Thursday, March 10, 2016

Church leadership 101

Read Acts 6.

With the explosive growth of the church in Jerusalem came the first recorded dissension.  Though most would have been bilingual in using Aramaic and Greek, there existed some tension between those Jews native to Israel, Jews who moved there from outside the country, and Gentiles who embraced faith in Jesus.

The environment of generosity, mentioned in chapter two, particularly benefited the widows and others who struggled within the congregation.  Criticism arose that the Greek speaking widows "were being neglected."  To put an end to the criticism, the Apostles appointed seven men to be charge.  All seven had Greek names.

This is the first mention of delegation of responsibilities in the church.  And, it is the simplest of leadership plans.
1. There were those who devoted themselves "to prayer and the ministry of the word" (v.4).
2. There were those who served to meet specific needs.

However, ministering in the name of Jesus, representing the body of believers, and fulfilling a fiduciary assignment required much more than a willingness to serve.  Each was selected based upon their personal reputation, personal character, and an obvious godliness.  The result was two-fold: a)the original criticism is never mentioned again in Scripture; b)"And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith."

These men, often referred to as the first Deacons in the church, could also minister the word of God.  Stephen is immediately mentioned as speaking for Christ and defending the faith.  In chapter 7, he became the first recorded martyr for Christ.  Philip led the Ethiopian to Jesus and baptized him in chapter 8.  In Acts 21, when the Apostle Paul made his way back to Jerusalem, he stopped in Caesarea to see Philip.  There Philip is called "the evangelist, who was one of the seven."

So, while the assignment to serve may have seemed merely practical, it is obvious that each one was involved in obeying the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).  It was not just the main preacher's job to know the Scriptures and to lead others to Jesus.

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