Acts 6 (today’s New testament in a Year reading!) shows that the rapid growth of the New Testament church meant it was creaking. The Grecian Jewish converts were complaining that their widows were not getting looked after as well as the Hebraic Jewish convert’s widows. This is at a time before the first Gentiles became followers of Christ! There’s an issue.
Sometimes leaders are proactive – seeing the need before it happens and sometimes reactive – responding to the problem.
The twelve need to keep focused on growing the Church, preaching and praying and need to delegate some of the social action ministry so they can keep the main thing they were called to do, the main thing. Social action is very important and so they knew they needed a good team to do it well.
The criteria they looked for was full of the Spirit and wisdom. Some have recently said that all Christians have already received the fullness of the Spirit. Clearly not if one of the criteria for servant leaders is that, among the church, they are recognisable as full of the Spirit!
The 12 apostles quickly find seven to do the job.
One, Stephen, again marked out as a man not only full of faith, but the Holy Spirit, stands out! Stephen is full of the Spirit and wisdom v3, full of faith and the Holy Spirit v5, full of grace and power v8. He not only served tables, but did signs and wonders. Great leaders are servant leaders. It’s the upside down way of the Kingdom. Leaders don’t lord it over the people, they serve. Some of the Jews begin to argue with him and kept loosing so they looked to get rid of him, by claiming he was blasphemous, stirring up false witnesses.
Tomorrow’s reading will show what happened next.
The Gateway has had a rapid season of growth (admittedly a way different league. Yes, we’ve doubled in a year roughly, but to 80 not 5,000!) Some parts of the church are creaking – there’s not enough small groups and we’ll need some youth leaders in the autumn.
We’re looking for the same criteria in our emerging leaders
Full of the Spirit, wisdom, faith, grace and power and servant heart.
Are you up for the challenge?