The 3 C’s of a Healthy Church – Find the Right People to Serve
Acts 6:1-7 (p. 762) February 26, 2017
Jon Weece in the book “Jesus Prom” says:
“When we stop moving, we start dying. Too many churches are filled with too many people who are fans of Jesus but not followers of Jesus. The body of Christ doesn’t need more spectators. The body of Christ needs more servants…it needs more people who will go…because “Servants can go places Kings can’t.”
I met Gil the other night…and the first thing I noticed was Gil looks exactly like Danny Glover…in fact I said, “Man, you look exactly like Danny Glover.” He smiled and said, “I get that all the time…I’m not an actor, but I wish I had some of his money.”
I was at our Room in the Inn ministry where we house and feed men who need some help…and Karl VanDyke, one of our Elders gave me the privilege to pray with these guys and our volunteers before the meal.
And as I looked around at these men and the servants who had set up the beds, gone to get them, and prepare the meal I felt a great surge of emotion and just wanted to tell these folks: “We love you…we are so glad you are here and safe for tonight…and it’s a privilege to be here with you.” Kevin and Steve would stay and help these guys all night and in the morning, and then take them to a drop off place.
After I prayed…Gil came up to me and said, “Thank you…he was emotional and said, “Pray for our nation’s leaders, pray for our country…pray that we will be one.”
And we hugged each other…not the quick get it out of the way hug guys do a lot of the time, but a real hug, with all the emotions that go with it.
So when I read those words “Servants can go places Kings can’t,” Gil’s face came to mind, because when you serve you get to be where Jesus wants you to be…and you get to fall in love with the people Jesus fell in love with.
The Church was never meant to be confined to a building. The church was designed by Jesus to be a mobile, agile, flexible, and tangible movement of the Spirit of God. Wherever Christians go, that’s where the Church is. We don’t go to Church…we are the Church.
We assemble together to prepare and worship but our focus should always be toward Jesus and others…Upward and outward.
So who are the right people to serve? How do we identify, prepare them, and release them?
I think we have a great example in Acts Chapter 6:
I. IDENTIFY AND RELEASE SPIRIT FILLED AND GUIDED SERVANTS
The Apostles were the leaders and preachers in the early church. “Day after day in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” (Acts 5:42)
It doesn’t mean they were the only ones sharing the Good News…because those they had discipled were also influencing their friends and family daily with what had happened in their lives because of this message and the Holy Spirit.
But the Apostles had set priorities…prayer and “the ministry of the Word.” What does this mean? They sought God’s guidance first, they approach the throne of Grace for help and they got it…they trusted God to lead and they needed to spend time with Him or they knew they were in trouble…But they also knew that 12 men and the other original follower wasn’t enough…They knew their second priority was “To make disciples, to baptize them and then teach them the words of Jesus…the ministry of the word…is the ministry of “teaching people who have decided to follow Jesus…what! He said. Jesus is the word…the Logos.
I know what I know about Jesus, even to this day, because of them…because of their Holy Spirit influenced writing: “The Apostle’s Doctrine.” So if you asked me my priority at Gardenside today…Pray, Preach, and Prepare Disciples.
Because, individuals that have chosen to leave their old life, to die to self and are filled with the Spirit of Jesus, want to go the places their servant King went…and love the people their Servant King loved. You don’t have to beg them…it’s within them…it’s easily identifiable. They are full of the Spirit who gives them the wisdom they need…and leaders will:
II. TURN THE RESPONSIBILITY OVER TO THEM
We’ve been working on job descriptions and opening our hearts to God’s leading in our children’s and student ministry positions. One of the job descriptions we looked at included this statement under Initiative: “If you need someone to light a fire under you to get you moving or you’re the type of person who wants to be told what to do, please don’t apply.
Under Clear Calling it says: “Ministry can be hard so you need to be called to it and you need to know you’re called to it.”
I think this is especially true for someone who will take the leadership role in any ministry…by the way, the word “Minister” means servant. So those who would do this full time, or as their “job,” it has to be much more than something that provides a paycheck…but the truth is every Christ follower is a “minister.” Every Christ follower is a “Deacon.” By the way the word “Deaconos” means “One who serves.”
In the early church in Jerusalem there were now thousands of Christ followers…and their numbers kept growing…People always have needs…Wayne Smith used to always say: “Ministry would be easy if people weren’t involved.”
But people are what ministry is all about. If your service isn’t about people…it’s not service…it’s work…and has no eternal meaning.
The Apostles became aware of a need for administration and structure. A complaint is lodge that widows were being left out during the distribution of food…Hellenistic Jews complained that the Hebraic Jews were showing favoritism. We don’t know if this is true or not…but the Apostles develop a plan.
1. They communicated unity and the need. (Read Acts 6:2)
“Hey, we’re going to keep our priorities straight. The main thing the main thing…and we need servants to help this happen. Choose from among you 7 men you know have shown themselves to be spiritually led.”
“Among” is an important word. These servants weren’t Sunday morning attenders. These servants were “koinonia” life sharing individuals. The complainers weren’t chosen to fix the problem…Spirit filled servants were chosen to lead this ministry so disciples could be made…and widows fed.
Our calling as leaders is to empower people like these servants and:
2. Turn the responsibility over to them.
I promise you these 7 men didn’t do this ministry to the widows by themselves…they made sure it was done right…and enlisted the right people to help. It worked because they were among them, respected and most of all Spirit led…and those who would follow them knew it. The Apostles didn’t micro-manage, they gave the authority and support that was needed. What was the result?
“So the word of God spread, the number of disciples increased rapidly.”
God is always the one who gives the increase…and as the leaders sought His guidance and His Word, and servants took their responsibility seriously…God added.
Let me end with this story.
Maybe you’ve felt like you’ve had your day…or the risk to serve isn’t worth the possibility of criticism. Maybe you’re like me…imperfect and broken…but the Holy Spirit still calls you back…and He calls you to love and serve people, because that’s what the Spirit of Jesus will always do…if we listen. If that is the case…listen to your heart.
[My little buddy Gavin Padgett did a presentation of Babe Ruth the other day at his school…it was awesome…but it reminded me of a story:
Do you remember Babe Ruth? Year after year, Babe Ruth was the idol of sports fans. Gradually, age began to take it’s toll and the Yankees traded him to the Braves.
One of the last games Ruth played was in Cincinnati. The Babe was not at his best. He fumbled the ball twice. He made other errors that allowed the opponent to get five runs in one inning.
The Babe walked slowly dejectedly toward the dugout, his chin slumped down on his chest. An enormous storm of boos and catcalls came from the stands. People actually shook their fists at him. It was an incredible humiliation for one so great.
Then a little boy with tears streaming down his cheeks leaped over the railing. He ran out, sobbing, and threw his arms around the legs of the great athlete. The Babe gently picked him up and hugged him tightly. Then he set him down, patting him gently on the head. He took the little fellow’s hand and the two of them started toward the dugout. The catcalls and the jeering stopped. The ballpark was silent. Then the crowd burst into a tumultuous cheer. People wiped tears away.
Ralph Waldo Emerson summed up the emotion of the moment: “What lies behind us, and what lies before us, are small matters compared to what lies within us.
This story of the Babe shows him reaching out in love, amid all the criticism, because something great inside him had to come out.
If you are a child of God, it’s because you have been born again by the Holy Spirit. He lives in you…and because of that, something great needs to come out. And that something great will always be loving and serving others.