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Selecting Church Leaders and Organisers
Bible Passage Acts 6:1-7
This content is part of a series Bright Morning Reflections, in topic 2022 & books 1 Peter, 1 Timothy, Acts, Colossians, Deuteronomy, Ephesians, Exodus, Luke, Philippians, Romans.

Selecting Church Leaders and Organisers

  • Rev. Bright Mawuena Nfodzo
Date preached June 8, 2022

1 In those days, as the number of the disciples, was growing larger and larger, a complaint was made by the Hellenistic Jews against the Hebraic Jews that their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food.

2 So the Twelve called the whole group of disciples together and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect messages from God in order to wait on tables.

3 Therefore, brothers, appoint seven men among you who have a good reputation, who are full of the Spirit and wisdom, and we’ll put them in charge of this work.

4 Then we’ll devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

5 This suggestion pleased the whole group. So they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a Gentile convert to Judaism from Antioch.

6 They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

7 So the word of God continued to spread, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem continued to grow rapidly. Even a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

There were two groups of Jews in the First Church. One group of Jews spoke Greek (Hellenistic) and the other group spoke Hebrew (Hebraic).

The Hellenistic had come from different countries. Probably they had travelled to Jerusalem for Pentecost and joined the Church there. Many such Jews had been born in foreign countries. Their ancestors had also lived far away from Israel. So, they did not know how to speak Hebrew. They spoke Greek because it was the most common language at the time. Probably, they also thought and behaved like Greeks.

The second group spoke the Jews’ language (Hebrew) and they were very proud of Jewish traditions. They lived in Jerusalem or the areas around it.

The argument that arose in the growing Church was a problem between the two groups was about the Jewish custom to help widows. (See Exodus 22:22 and Deuteronomy 10:18) Women whose husbands had died did not have a regular income. Those women could not buy food. So, in the first Church, they continued the custom to help them. Some people wanted to help, so they gave money or possessions. Every day they gave something to the widows among them. They gave them whatever they needed. But the Jews who spoke Greek complained. They complained that the Hebrew widows were receiving more than the other widows. Perhaps the two groups did not like each other much. Or perhaps they did not trust each other much. Perhaps that was why they quarrelled.

The apostles suggested a solution to choose 7 helpers who were spiritual and sensible. Then the 12 apostles would not have to worry about this responsibility. They could continue to preach and pray.

It appears from the names of all the 7 chosen they were all Hellenists. With the appointment of these men, the apostles took the first steps toward the organization of the Church.

When Christianity later spread to nearby regions, other churches followed Jerusalem’s example of appointing people to look after specific affairs. As a result an order of deacons, or church helpers, became a regular feature of life in the early church (Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:8 ).
There are stewards, deacons, elders, presbyters etc in today’s Church as well. These are assistants to pastors in the administration of the Church (See also Rom 12:7; Eph 6:21; Col 4:17).

The variety of needs within the Church meant that opportunities existed for both men and women deacons/helpers/presbyters (Rom 16:1-2; 1 Tim 3:11; cf. Luke 8:1-3; 11 Tim 5:10).

The process of the appointment involved the whole Church. The leaders apparently invited the church members to select suitable people, taking into account their character, behaviour, ability, family life and Christian commitment (Acts 6:3a; 1 Tim 3:8-13). After due prayer and consideration, the elders made the appointment (Acts 6:3b; 1 Tim 3:10), in the understanding that only Spirit-gifted and Spirit-controlled people could properly do the work of deacons (1 Cor 12:4-7,11; 1 Peter 4:11).

🔷 We must always look for and deliberately train others to be able to take up responsibilities even in the Church.

🔷 Every person in the Church must be involved in the process of selecting leaders of the Church

🔷 There must be proactive steps to handle division and other problems that might arise in the Church and in our communities

💥 Pray that God will always find you worthy of His work
💥 Pray for God’s guidance and wisdom for Church leaders

Though the Lord appoints His own people we must invite Him through prayer to do the appointments for us. We must also check people’s attitudes and character before we give them such opportunities.

In series Bright Morning Reflections