Read Acts 6.
Every growing church experiences growing pains. It is a good problem to have because it means that the Lord is working and blessing his word. Acts 6:1 continues to describe the growth of the first church, the church in Jerusalem. Part of growing as a church, however, is dealing with growing pains. These are the problems that result when a church has more people and, therefore, more needs than the leaders of the church can handle.
The early church in Jerusalem experienced this, too. Verse 1 says that because the church was growing in numbers, some of the Gentile widows were not being cared for by the church like they once had been. This resulted in complaints and the apostles had to address the situation.
What are some ways they could have addressed the discontent?
- Denial. They could have just refused to acknowledge the problem.
- Excuses. The apostles could have said, “We’re just 12 men and are going the best we can with the time and resources we have!”
- Blame-shifting. They could have said, “If you took more responsibility for the widows, the church wouldn’t have to care for them!”
- Time management. The apostles could have chosen to spend more time serving the widows and less time in prayer and the Word. Actually, that’s what they knew would happen unless found another way to meet the needs (see verse 2).
Fortunately, the apostles didn’t fall into any of these traps. Instead, they decided to enlist godly men around them. These men were chosen to take responsibility for meeting the needs of these widows (Acts 6:2-3). This gave a place of service to these believers. It also helped the apostles say focused. According to verses 3b-4, “We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” We don’t know for sure, but many scholars think this is the beginning of the office of “deacon” in the church.
The result of the focus and diligent service of these first deacons was that the church grew even more. Verse 7 says, “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” When people are focused on one ministry objective and work diligently toward that objective, God entrusts more people to their care. But it was essential for people in the church to be willing to help when they were asked.
Every church needs committed believers who will give what time they have to serving the Lord. Have you found a place of service at our church? Are you willing to serve where needed when you are asked? Are you willing to volunteer when you see a need instead of waiting for someone else to do it or waiting for someone to ask you?
This is one of the best ways you can help our church to grow because it allows the elders of our church to focus on prayer and God’s word (v. 2).