The problem with growth
Growth. It’s a good thing, right? Throughout the book of Acts, we can see the Early Church grow vastly in numbers; day by day. For churches in the Western World, we can only pray to have the same kind of church growth like in Acts. However, church growth also came with a notable change for the whole community. Here we will look into a case study of problems that may come when the church grows.
Before turning to this week’s verse, Acts 6:1-7, take a moment to read the very first sentence of verse one and seven. The section starts and ends with growth; the problem then sandwiched in the middle. There seemed to be a conflict of ethnicity between the Hellenistic Jews (Greek) and the Hebraic Jews within the church; the Hellenistic Jews felt their widows were being overlooked in their ministry. Even today, this problem exists where people are feeling overlooked, or even dismissed, more prominently in larger church communities (but not exclusively). This may prompt their consumerist nature to take hold; in other words, they may leave their church community and look for another, asking the wrong questions like “what’s the worship band like?” or “how old is their pastor?” or “what vibes am getting from this building?” So, what solutions were devised by the apostles to counter this? Well...
Solution 1: They learned to Delegate
Delegation. What an elegant sounding word. The apostles chose to delegate to seven men among them that would be responsible for settling the dispute. The catch? The apostles advised the congregation to judge the seven chosen ones off this criteria:
They had to be reputable individuals (i.e. men of character);
They had to be known to have a level of wisdom; and
They had to be known to be full of the Spirit.
Notice that there is a clear distinction between wisdom and knowledge in this scenario. People who have knowledge can easily point out the problem source, but those with wisdom can look beyond which person caused the problem. People with wisdom offer solutions.
Solution 2: They learned to be Team-players
In this chapter, some may misinterpret verses two and four. It may seem like the apostles are dismissing the problem to focus on something “more important” (verse two) but that isn’t the case. Every role in the body of Christ is important (1 Corinthians 12:14-18), and not necessarily fun. While there’s joy in ministry, there isn’t really any worldly pleasure involved in being obedient to ministry.
A growing church is a good thing. But the more growth, the more problems emerge. By employing these two solutions, the Early Church was able to better deal with the changes, and we can learn from this too.
We thank You that You’ve given us an example of what the church should be like. We pray in faith that we may be obedient to You in delegation and in understanding of the roles You’ve given us in the Body of Christ.
In Jesus’ name, we pray,