"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, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, 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." - Acts 6:1-7
Here are some principles from this passage: (1) some of us need to devote ourselves exclusively to prayer and the preaching and teaching of God's word; (2) the church needs to develop a good number of disciples who can carry out responsibilities and tasks within the church community; (3) disciples must be carefully chosen for responsibilities and tasks--the spiritual and character standards must be kept high; and (4) ownership responsibility should be delegated to the selected disciples without undue micromanagement. If these principles are followed, the church should continue to increase in quality and quantity (v. 7).
As an elder at our church, there are some key takeaways for me. First, I need to be more dedicated to prayer. My prayer life is not what it should be. Second, I should focus on my preaching and teaching ministry. There are some initiatives and projects I can undertake that will open up venues for me to preach and teach God's word. Third, I need to delegate responsibilities and tasks to trusted disciples, set them up for success, get them the resources they need, and maintain general oversight, checking up on them from time to time. Fourth, I need to keep in better touch with church leaders around Dunedin and New Zealand and try to match disciples to opportunities that come up locally, regionally, and nationally. For example, there is a church planting opportunity in Whakatane that needs qualified disciples to help.
Father, personally I need fresh vision for my ministry. I have felt lethargic lately, possibly due to Covid. But Lord, give me strength, renewed vigour for ministry, and wisdom on how to lead, administer, and teach. Continue to bring disciples to our church, and help us also to develop disciples from within. May we build a culture of loving care and ministry excellence at our church. In Jesus' name, amen.
- Jeff Coleman