CIT: Luke described how the church handled the problem of delegating responsibility.
Proposition: The modern church must delegate responsibility to continue multiplying ministry.
Sticky Statement: More hands = more ministry.
Objective: I want my listeners to take a specific step to get involved in the ministry at Woodlawn Baptist.
How many of you are the peacemakers among your friends? When they have a problem, you’re the person they call for advice. Sometimes, you’re on the phone with several different people trying to work stuff out. Sometimes this can be accomplished when you’re dealing with a small group of people. But it quickly gets exhausting trying to meet the needs of all of your friends. You may say something like, “It’s just too much for one person!”
What we’re going to see in our text this evening is a problem. The problem starts because the church is beginning to grow. In the midst of growing, people are being neglected. How it’s handled gives us a good picture as to how we should handle similar conflicts in the church and in our lives. I’m going to challenge you at the end to make the same call they did.
If you have your Bibles this evening, we’re going to be in
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. 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.
· EXP: As more were added to the church, more needs were developing than what the apostles could handle. Consequently, they were being faced with the decision of whether they should give up their current ministry, which was highly successful, to spend their time meeting the other needs of the people.
· ILL: Every team does best when they specialize, can you imagine a CEO making calls to each client? How would he ever complete all of the tasks associated with his position? There comes a point of growth in any organization where the president or CEO loses the ability to touch each individual life and need.
· APP: It is no different in churches. If all of your time is spent sweeping the floor and calling each individual member, there will be no time to dig into God’s word to share and teach it. There would be no time for personal prayer and for vision. You couldn’t do every single hospital visit and cook every meal for every sick member. Imagine if Floyd had to hands on organize the music, children, and youth ministries. There’s simply too much to be done.
· EXP: His identification goes even beyond this though. The twelve recognize that they’ve been gifted to perform a certain task for the body, that should not be neglected due to the amount of work that needs to be completed. Even so, not everyone in the church was gifted in that area, or even had a desire to teach. So they propose a solution.
· EXP: Their solution is to appoint 7 men, with certain qualifications, to address this particular need. Meanwhile, they would continue to devote themselves to their work they had already been working on.
· EXP: Notice that they don’t just give this task to whoever will pick it up, they pick people exemplifying Christian maturity. They were of good repute, full of the Spirit and wisdom. (v. 3) Then they prayed over them and laid hands on them. Perhaps this was a picture of the transfer of authority to this task. They were releasing them to ministry.
· APP: Today we see this principle play out in several ways. We must ask why Luke recorded this particular exchange. The obvious answer would be that they were defending and explaining the original choice to not just have the twelve doing everything. Perhaps at the time of his writing, the church has already produced the systems of deacons and elders that we find in Paul’s letters. He’s showing us that even at the birth of the church, as things grew, different roles and delegation were necessary.
· APP: Today, we have deacons, elders, volunteers, teachers, shepherds, evangelists, administrators—and the list could go on! Each position is an answer to this problem. But the solution does not just put out a fire. It is strategic. The twelve were able to better do the work entrusted to them, where these new men were able to skillfully strive in their new assignments. We will lastly look at the result of this move.
· EXP: Notice how Luke notes 3 things that happened.
The word of God continued to increase
The number of disciples multiplied greatly
Many priests became obedient to the faith
· EXP: In short, outgoing ministry continued to increase, which meant more disciples, which meant more converts. The question we must consider together then, is whether these things would have taken place without this move? The indication of the passage is that this could have been a potential roadblock moving forward. Ministry, discipleship, and evangelism were all at stake. By delegating, they multiplied. Which leads me to our sticky statement of the evening:
· APP: We are not quick to deny the legitimacy of such a statement. If obedience were the same as agreement or mental assent, the kingdom would be exploding with laborers. Instead, Jesus commands us to pray for the Father to send laborers into the harvest. The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
· APP: The question then is not whether we agree, but whether we obey. If more hands = more ministry, what part are you playing on the team?
· ILL: I was sitting at the Kroger Starbucks with a good friend of mine the other day. She was telling me how she doesn’t feel like she’s gifted with teaching—referring to large group format of preaching to women. I asked her if she liked Sunday school, something she had served in prior. Her response was an excited yes. I told her that she may still be gifted in teaching, just in a different format.
· APP: Maybe you need to look past the obvious and look for where God has already gifted you—where he’s given you a passion. That passion may be different than mine, or different than that of your spouse. But it may play a vital role in the expansion of the kingdom. How can you get involved?
· So the easy thing to leave with today is this lingering question, “What does this have to do with me?” As students, you’re often fed the lie that you cannot do anything in ministry until you’re older.
As a senior in high-school I started a Bible study at my house and invited people every Saturday. I was really awful at teaching probably, but God still used it. I knew guys who started groups at their schools for FCA, Discipleship, and other Christian groups. Don’t limit yourselves. If I would have waited till I graduated high school to start obeying Jesus, I would have missed out on so much.
Why would we be willing to live like this? It’s the gospel, right? Because of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross, we should be motivated to live for him. That means playing our part, big and small.
If you don’t have relationship with Jesus Christ this evening, I want to talk with you about it.
If you have ideas for ministry here or outside of the church, please let us know. We’d love to help you and pray with you.