Act 6 – Scene 1
In 1976 Apple Computers launched, it is now trading as simply Apple Inc. This company continued to grow but between 1986-1993 the company started to splutter under competition from Microsoft, and a series of failed products. The company then reinvented itself over a number of years and with the launch of the iMac it returned to profitability. The rest they say is history…
Apple is not on their own in experiencing growing pains. Any company that wants to move forward goes through the pain of growth. It is not only companies that experience growing pains, but we as humans do too, as we grow from an infant to a toddler etc.
We experience growing pains in other ways too.
It is no different in the life of the church and we see this clearly in Acts 6. Over the previous chapters that we have been reading in Acts, we have witness the dynamic and explosive growth of the early church. In this chapter tension arises between the Hellenists, that is Greek speaking Jews and the Hebrews. The complaint came from the Hellenists in that they were concerned that their widows were not getting cared for in the daily distribution of food etc. It would appear that the apostles were still overseeing the process of these distributions.
So the apostle made a great decision, they appointed men, who were of good reputation, who were full the Spirit and of wisdom to serve in the distribution of the daily provision. This released the apostles to do what they where called to do and it meant that widows were not forgotten or missed out. Had the apostles continued to do everything then it is possible that the growth of the church may have slowed down somewhat, but more certainly than that, there would certainly have been a falling out between the Hellenists and Hebrews.
As it was, the church continued to grow as the number of disciples multiplied!
“And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith”.
There are a couple of lessons that we can learn from this passage…
1. When experiencing growth you have to be flexible and adapt quickly to continue growing.
2. People have to concentrate on what only they can do. Leaders need to make space for others to do jobs that they may well be able to do, but do not need to do.
At Bethel we are experiencing incremental growth, which is fantastic but it does present its problems. Thankfully there is a growing momentum of people doing stuff that is enabling mission. We have been able to add to the small group ministry teams, meaning that work load is distributed evenly according to these roles and we have a prayerful team of elders, who recognise that we need to add to the leadership, and thankfully there are people we recognize who could fulfil this function. Please do not get me wrong our focus is not solely on “church growth” but lets face it there are things in church that need be done and developed in order to disciple people well so that we can each make more disciples. Not even to mention the need for more physical space to meet in. These are challenges but with flexibility and obedience to the Holy Spirit, we are expecting more growth as God brings it.
So, by God’s grace and provision, we are getting people into the right places, doing the right roles at the right time. Why? Because, God is gracious and we have learnt the lesson of the apostles in regards to growth and want to continue to grow.
What do you learn from this passage?
As a follower of Jesus how have you experienced growing pains and what did you learn?
How are you going to apply it?