Back to Church Sunday 2019: Part 4 “Servant Leaders & God’s Mission”
Pastor Rollan Fisher with Guest Speaker Pastor Reggie Roberson
Growing up it seemed like the lead pastor of the church was supposed to be everything and everywhere? The pastor was supposed to be at the hospital when every church member or their kid was sick. The pastor was supposed to be at every graduation from graduate school all the way down to kindergarten. The pastor was supposed to be at every birthday party. The pastor was supposed to do every funeral and wedding even if they were happening at the same time. The pastor was supposed to remember every person's name and take every phone call. The pastor should be the best greeter, children's minister, youth minister, outreach guy, teacher, consultant, and adviser. The pastor is supposed to do all of this while somehow giving his own family love, attention, and leadership as well as living off of a meager amount of money.
I have two questions for you:
How many of you would sign up to be a pastor like I just described?
How many of you think that it is pretty unreasonable to ask one person or even two to do all of this?
What’s interesting is that God also thinks this is unreasonable to ask of one person to do all of this. In fact, God is grieved at anyone approaching church in this way because it hinders us in fulfilling God’s mission.
This approach to church deprives the pastor of having a balanced life that can serve God and others well without burning out.
This approach also deprives followers of Christ of using their God-given gifts, strengths, and opportunities to serve each other and the world.
What we are going to see in our passage today, Acts 6:1-7 is God’s approach to fulfilling his mission through the church through servant leaders.
1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word. 5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 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.
Big Idea: We fulfill God’s mission by accepting His calling, appointing, and anointing.
The first thing we read in this chapter is that there is a dispute between Christian widows who are Jewish (Hebraic) and greek (Hellenistic).
1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.
This is significant because it is the first time there was a dispute within the body of Christ or the church.
You see, in Acts 5 the church has disputer but it was the religious leaders who had crucified Jesus earlier, who were not members of the church. Peter and John had been thrown in prison and then freed by an angel to go preach the gospel again.
Now this a dispute among widows threatened to undermine, disrupt, and stifle God’s mission to see the world come to know him. Think of how the church would have been branded by people if they did not deal with this dispute well:
They don’t really practice what they preach.
They are no better than the world, at least the world (jews) tried to do something for us.
This Christianity is really a religion for one type of ethnicity; in this case the Jews.
So what did God do in response to this issue that was going to hinder His mission to see more people know him and possibly rip the church apart?
We see God doing three things:
Calling people to His mission
God uses this circumstance to wake up the church to His voice. They become the woke church.
You can hear God saying through this bible passage, “Look, I am calling you through a particular need to step up and help. Why? I don’t want my mission to be hindered. I want my mission fulfilled and it’s going to require all of us to serve in some way. The apostles accepted the call to delegate and not try to do everything so they can fulfill God’s glorious mission. While the church accepts God’s call by being problem solvers and actually serving and not being complainers.
As the church, we are called to be participators and not spectators. Spectators would look at the problem and just complain, fault-find, or say somebody else will deal with that issue but not me.
We are called to be a part of the solution and not perpetuate the problem.
Story Lilly Ferrick -serving the shut-in isolated/widow and wants to do systematic studies through the bible vs. pastor we should have this or be doing this.
Can you hear God’s voice calling you to serve in a particular area?
What problems or potential issues is God highlighting with you to solve in the church?
What gaps do you see?
This is a moment for us to see what God may ask us to do in order to fulfill his mission as servant leaders.
The next thing we see is God...
Appointing people for His mission
In this story, we find that the apostles and people have a very important moment of clarification from God about this issue of appointment.
First, the church leaders realize they can not do everything. They can do something and they prioritize two things. Verse 2 and 4 tells us. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.
4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
Prayer private yes but more so with the community of Christ-followers.
The second is the ministry or service of equipping people to be able to understand and share God’s word.
Without them doing this God’s mission will be stifled.
It becomes clear to them that in order for God’s mission to continue they must share the stewardship of God’s mission with the church; it can not just be them. God was appointing not just the apostle but everyone to help steward God's mission and promote it.
So then they appointed some people within the church to serve the widows using their God-given strengths and abilities.
This shows us two important truths:
Every task is important. (Waiting on tables was not a menial task but was a way of caring for people God cares about.
““Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.”
-Exodus 22:22-24 NIV
Parking lot team and greeters seems pretty unimportant right?
Wrong here’s a survey feedback from a guest this past week.
Answer the questions: What did you notice first?
“The special attention to making guests feel welcomed. The yellow designations in the parking lot, guest tent & gift bag, guest greeter. Made us feel very welcomed and at ease.”
Every task is important
Every person is valuable.
Every person has some type of ability or strength that God has given them to help fulfill God’s mission in the church and in the world. It talks about the seven but the people had a role in appointing the seven.
My friend Justin Thomas was trained in being a health coach. He has a passion for young professionals, especially one’s coming out of college. He decided in the church to lead our young professional’s ministry.
Picture of CL Thomas fellowship
Outside of the church, he founded an organization called CL Thomas Fellowship named after is dad in which he takes young men through a 9-month program where through books and discussions they are learning to be providers. Providers bless and protect.
What are you passionate about? What ability and strengths has God given you? Are you willing to use them to steward God’s mission for second city church?
Anointing people in His mission
These seven guys are considered by scholars to be the first deacons to be appointed in the church. The word for deacon in its original language is “helper”. Deacons are leaders in service as servant leaders. The passage tells us that they were chosen and presented to the apostles by the congregation and the apostles laid their hands on them and prayed for them. The apostles through this act of laying their hands on them became conduits for God’s power to be activated in the lives of the deacons for God’s mission. The power is what we call the anointing.
Why were they anointed and not others at the time? What was the basis of their anointing?
5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.
They were known by the people and did not have a private faith. They attended church regularly, they went to community groups, and they were faithful. FAITH.
They were seen as being men full of faith. They were not perfect but they had noticeable confidence in God. They lived in such a way that their confidence in God was expressed through what they said what they did.
The were full of the Holy Spirit. This meant that the presence of the Holy Spirit, the fruit or love of the Holy Spirit, and they power of the Holy Spirit was present in their lives.
What would people say about you when they observe your life?
Do you stand out enough for others to recognize you as a man or woman of God? A follower of Christ?
Does your speech and actions show you are confident in Christ?
If you are a Believer in Christ, the good news today is that you have been given a measure of faith and the Holy Spirit lives in you! You can be like any of these men, fulfilling God’s purpose and mission for you life as servant leaders.
Lastly, the reason God anoints us is so we can fulfill this great mission known as the great commission in and through the church to Make disciples of Jesus Christ and all of the groups according to Matthew 28:18-20.
7 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 everyone did their part the church flourished and grew and lives were changed forever. All of this is so that the mission that God had in Christ would be fulfilled.
God became man in Christ and died on the cross for us to pay the punishment for our sins and provide forgiveness of sins, to bring us into an everlasting relationship as sons and daughters with the Heavenly Father that starts now, and to give us eternal inheritance now and in the new heaven and new earth. Righteousness or right standing with God, peace, joy, and fulfilling our purpose are all a part of this inheritance.
We fulfill God’s mission by accepting His calling, appointing, and anointing.
Second City Church - Back to Church Sunday 2019 - Guest Speaker Pastor Reggie Roberson 2019