The early church was not without its growing pains. And we see an example of it here. Among the things the church did was provide for the needs of the poor among them. But as the church grew, the responsibilities for this ministry grew exponentially. At first, the apostles took care of the collecting and dispersing of the money. We see this when Barnabas and Ananias came before Peter and the apostles to present the money they had received from selling their land.
But now, with the great number of believers within the church, balls were starting to get dropped. And unfortunately, a racial divide started to develop between the Hebraic Jews and Grecian Jews, as the needs of the Grecian widows were neglected in favor of the Hebraic widows. How could this happen? I don’t know. I don’t believe the apostles were purposefully racist. But with too many other things to attend to, they definitely dropped the ball on this.
Their solution? They said,
It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word. (2-4)
Upon doing so, the Word of God spread, and the church continued its rapid growth.
What can we get from this? One major thing. There is one thing that our pastors and leaders cannot do: everything.
Yet so often, we leave ministry to the “professionals.” The truth is, all of us are part of the body of Christ. We all need to do our part. But to do our part, we all need to be filled with God’s Spirit.
Too many people in the church complain when balls get dropped in the church and they criticize the leaders for it. But are we daily being filled with God’s Spirit, and doing our part to take the burden off of them so that they can do the things that God has specifically called them to do? Are we helping them to avoid getting distracted by the things that would detract from their calling?
I suppose the question from the pastors’ side is what do they feel their main calling is as a pastor? What is God calling them to do within the church? And what things do they need to let go of so that they can focus on that calling? Just as importantly, are they raising up Spirit-filled people who can take on the other responsibilities of the church?
Pastors and leaders can’t do everything. And if we can learn that, from the pastor down to the newest member in the church, God’s church can grow. But if we don’t, we will face definite limits going forward in trying to extend God’s kingdom.
How about you? Are you doing your part?