There are many prevailing ideas about the church today. If we were to ask what comes to your mind when you hear the word “church” we would likely get a variety of answers depending upon your exposure, background and childhood.
Some people view the church in light of liturgy and traditions. Some think of people wearing special clothes and referring to people as Pope, Priests, or Bishops.
Others think of the church in terms of dead orthodoxy. The honest assessment is that church is absolutely boring. What a crime – to bore people with the living Word of God!
Still others see the church as a place to get rich at the expense of the church members!This view is especially prevalent in our society – ministers tell parishioners that it is God’s will for you to be healthy, wealthy and successful. Nothing could actually be further from the truth of the New Testament.
These are people who view God as an heavenly Bellboy. Like those well dressed Bellmen waiting to open doors and carry your bags at a high priced hotel, God is viewed waiting around to serve man. In actual fact the opposite is true! We were created to serve God, not the other way around.
Is it any wonder that many people today view the church as being an organization of hypocrites.
The Church is actually none of the above!
The Church is the Body of Christ. He is the head we are “members of His body”
Eph.5:25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.* 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body.
In our relationship with one another in the body we are called upon to serve each other.
Gal. 5:3 Through Love, serve one another!
There are not any “big people” and “little people” in the church. We are all just redeemed sinners on a journey together to heaven! We share a unity with one another that is not centered on a ball or a bottle or a business deal or a cultural back ground but that we share the life of Jesus!
The church is not an organization, it is a living organism!
- As a living organism it is organized.
- As a living organism it has life.
Biblical church organization is always a response to the needs of the body.
Biblical church organization is never an end in itself only the means to facilitate what the Lord is doing in His church.
There are two offices in a New Testament church. Search through the NT and you will not find mention mention of priests in reference to church leadership. To find a priest you will need to go to the Old Testament where the priest represented God to the people, he offered sacrifices in the temple.
There are two offices:
Office of Elder – there are three biblical terms applied to the same office. Consider these Scriptures in relation to this office:
- Episkopos -is interpreted as Overseer, or Bishop. It speaks of the responsibility the pastor has for the spiritual well-being of the church.
Titus 1:7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach.
- Presbuteros – speaks of the authority, to teach and rule.
1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.
- Poimen – is simply to Shepherd, to lead a flock, to guide and provide.
1 Peter 5:2-3 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
Office of Deacon:
Diakonos – Minister and emphasizes the attitude of a servant. Literally it means to wait tables.
Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:
In our text in Acts 6:1-7 we find that the first church in Jerusalem was facing a problem that threatened this new congregation.
THE PROBLEM IN THE CHURCH (1)
Problems are Satan’s tactics to destroy the church. Satan is never happy when the gospel is being proclaimed! God was at work, thousands have repented of their sins and placed faith in Jesus.
The first problem: Persecution from outside (4)
The reason: 3000 saved on Pentecost, 5000 men saved and added to the church in Acts 4.4; Believers are being discipled (2.42) and Satan is not going to take that lying down!
The result: Apostles arrested and threatened not to speak in Jesus’ name (4.2-3,21).
Their response: They prayed and asked for boldness to continue to preach (4.29-30).
And the result? Multitudes of disciples were added to the church! (4.32)
Sin from the inside (5:1-11)
In this account we find that a couple wanted to impress the congregation by giving a large financial gift to the church. They were free to give what they wanted, but they chose to lie and say that they were giving all the proceeds from the sale of property when in fact they were keeping a part of the proceeds.
Their Response: The church elders confronted them with their sin and God killed the hypocrites! Wow, imagine if that were to happen to hypocrites in the church today!
What was the result? Multitudes were added to the church (5.14)!
Now we see the third problem: Dissension among the membership (6.1)
When you have people from 16 different countries and language groups come together as one in Christ, there are bound to be misunderstandings! (2:8-11)
Hellenists – Jews who had been dispersed among the nations and had lost much of their ethnic identity, they only spoke Greek.
Hebrews were Jews from Jerusalem who spoke Hebrew. The Pharisees held Hellenists in contempt. This was a deep cultural animosity between the Hebrews and the Hellenists in the culture, and this cultural animosity threatened the unity of this new church!
Church was growing, disciples were multiplying! Possibly 20,000 by this time. Church growth presents new challenges.
The problem was that people were dissatisfied because their needs were not being met. Widows of the Hellenists were being neglected, while the widows of the Hebrews were being cared for. God cares for the widows, and so must the church! (I Timothy 5.3)
So we will pick up the story and lessons from here next week.
Listen or Download mp3: Role of Church Leadership – A Ministry of Service in the Church (Part 1)