Missional Church (part 4) – The Moving – Acts 6.1-15 (click here for word doc)
In this fourth and final study in our Missional Church series we look at how the early church dealt with internal and external challenges. Internally they were facing pressure on resources and externally severe persecution was coming soon. And yet through it all they grew rapidly under the blessing of God.
1. What roles did both the leadership and congregation play in determining the solution to the Hellenistic widows’ difficulty (v1-6)? What responsibility did the leadership give to the congregation (v3)? How do we model this pattern in our church body and tradition?
2. What is the result of the process the church leaders followed (v7)? How reliable are increasing numbers to indicate spiritual growth or wise decisions? What assumptions do we make when church attendance decreases?
3. Jim stated that the key to overcoming problems is “a wise and united leadership and a fellowship facing in the same direction”. How does good management enable the Spirit to work? For those of us working in the business world, do you think secular management practises are helpful or a hindrance in the church? What would you say to someone who said that “there is no sacred / secular divide – only good management practises and bad ones”?
4. Jim reminded us that a growing church is sure to face problems. What problems do we face at the moment as believers? How can we see this as an opportunity? Do we need to re-organise our structures in order to respond to these challenges?
5. The church leaders organised the church so they could focus on “prayer and the ministry of the word” v4. What is the breadth of meaning within the term “ministry of the word”? What other things do our leaders have to deal with today? How much do these things encroach on our leaders that distract them from these priorities? Is there anything we can do to release them to greater emphasis on these two?
6. “In Christian work the frontline is the place of prayer”. Are we taking ground in the spiritual battle or have we been wounded? What are the barriers that prevent us from praying more? Who or what do we need to commit to pray for more faithfully?
7. In this part of Acts we see that Stephen and Philip, although they were not apostles, have significant preaching ministries. They both saw themselves as ministers of the word. Do we see ourselves as receivers of the word, or ministers of the word? Who are we ministering to and are we intentional / deliberate in our ministry?
Jim’s key message for us was that “a well taught, united church, facing in the right direction is powerfully usable in the Holy Spirit”. Spend a few moments thanking God for our progress so far and asking for his help in further growth in understanding, unity and devotion.