Friday, November 21st

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Friday, November 21

Acts 7:54-60


Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  And he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."  But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

In the mid-1950‘s 5 young men in their 20‘s committed their lives to sharing the gospel with the indigenous tribes of Ecuador.


Their names were Jim Elliott, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully and Nate Saint.


Most were graduates of Wheaton College, were married and had young children.

They committed themselves to reaching a tribe of nearly stone age people called the Huaorani. They knew the Huaorani had the reputation of being violent and extremely resistant to outsiders. So they spent several months dropping gifts from an airplane in an attempt to demonstrate good will and friendship. Finally, in January  of 1956, they decided to make contact on the ground. On the very day they landed their plane close to the Huaorani village all five men were speared to death. Later it was discovered that they had refused to use their guns to defend themselves as they were being attacked.


Their story has been told in books and film.


While in Ecuador last summer with one of our church’s student mission teams, we visited the “Nate Saint House” where the men would have gathered before flying into the jungle on the day they died. It was a very sobering experience to be so close to the powerful story of martyrdom for the cause of Christ.


The deaths of those 5 young men, leaving their wives and young children behind seemed so unnecessary; such a waste!


But because their widows and children forgave the Huaorani and continued to reach out to them with the gospel, today there is a thriving Huaorani church and all four of the surviving tribesmen who speared those missionaries are now elders in that church! Furthermore, just as Stephen’s death in the first century sparked the continued growth of the gospel, the deaths of these five young missionaries also sparked a new wave of Christian missions all over the world.


But how do we even begin to relate to martyrdom living where we do in North America?


A “martyr” is usually defined as one who is persecuted or put to death specifically for their religious beliefs.


How can we compare what we might experience to what Stephen experienced, or to what those five young men and their families experienced in Ecuador?


In some ways, of course, we can’t.


But, when I really think about it, I think there is a way we can relate to this story. Is it not true that we all give our lives to something?


Is it not true that every day, every hour, we each pour our lives out on some altar?


That altar might be our work, the quest for money or success; it might be education or even our families. But we all pour our lives out for something!


Most of the time we pour our lives out so gradually that we barely even notice we are doing it.

Some, like the 5 missionaries in Ecuador, like Stephen, pour their lives out in a moment of brilliant clarity; like an exploding water balloon. But most of us pour our lives out a drop at a time.


It occurs to me that we are all martyrs for something! We all give our lives to and for some purpose. 
When we look at this story we are tempted to focus on how Stephen died, and we should, because martyrdom has happened throughout the centuries and is happening around the world today.


But I think this story is here to also teach us how Stephen lived!


He was a man of grace.


He was a man of truth.


A man of courage; courage anchored in grace and truth.


It seems to me that Stephen teaches us that a martyr is one willing to die for what he or she is living for.


We may not all be called to die like Stephen, but we are all called to live like Stephen, because Stephen lived like Jesus!

Pastor Brian Coffey

Thursday, November 20th

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Thursday, November 20

Acts 7:54-60


Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

While traveling recently on a long flight back from the middle east, I found myself watching a movie on the plane. The film was called “Railway Man” starring Colin Firth.


It was the story of a British World War II veteran who was struggling with what we now call PTSD.


He struggles to resume his life due to deep emotional trauma. He eventually falls in love with a woman who sees first hand his emotional paralysis and challenges him to address the root of his pain.


It turns out he had been part of a group of soldiers captured by the Japanese and forced to work on the Thai-Burma railway in the jungles of the Malay Peninsula.


It was time of brutality and abuse; at one time he was tortured mercilessly by one particular guard and it was hatred for this guard that lay at the center of his pain.


He accidentally discovers that his tormentor is still alive so he decides to go back to the location of his imprisonment with the intent to confront and perhaps kill the former Japanese guard, thinking this act of justice and revenge might finally bring him peace.


However, when he finds the man and has the opportunity, he finds he just can’t bring himself to do what he intended to do. He realizes that man has also lived in an emotional prison for years as well; a prison of guilt, shame and remorse for his own actions.


Firth’s character offers the Japanese man forgiveness, thus setting both men free.


I thought it was a terrific movie, and I was reminded of it when I read again the story of the martyrdom of Stephen.


Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.


Remarkable! Even as he is being stoned to death Stephen prays for his murderers, offering them forgiveness.

Of course, our minds go immediately to the words of Jesus on the cross, when he looked down upon those who   had him crucified, and said:


“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)


We have already learned that Stephen was a man full of grace and power. We have seen that he was a man of truth, unashamed of the gospel and unafraid to defend it. Now we see that he was also a man of enormous courage. But notice that Stephen not only had the courage to die for his faith in Jesus, but also to forgive those who were casting the stones!


We usually think of Stephen as an example of Christian martyrdom, and he is. But I think Stephen can teach us some important things about forgiveness as well. Have you ever thought of forgiveness as requiring grace, truth and courage?


Forgiveness requires truth because, in order to forgive, the sin must be acknowledged and named.
Forgiveness is most powerful and effective when we say not just, “I forgive you,” but, “I forgive you for what you did or said that hurt me.”


For example: In the movie, “Railway Man,” before Colin Firth’s character offers forgiveness to the former Japanese guard he recounts the abuse and torture and the guard acknowledges fully what he had done.


Here Stephen says, “Do not hold this sin against them.” He acknowledges that what these men are doing is a sinful act. He speaks the truth and the truth allows forgiveness to take place.


Second, forgiveness requires grace. Stephen could afford to offer his murderers forgiveness because he knew his own sins had been forgiven. We can only forgive others when we have already received forgiveness ourselves. Grace tends to produce grace in our lives.


Finally, forgiveness requires courage. Forgiveness requires courage because forgiveness always costs us something. Forgiveness costs us the opportunity and fleeting pleasure of revenge or retribution. Forgiveness means relinquishing what feels like our right to inflict suffering and humiliation on the one who has wronged us. Forgiveness means to trust that God will handle all judgment and justice.


Who and what might you need to forgive today? Ask God for the grace, truth and courage to do so.


Pastor Brian Coffey

Wednesday, November 19th

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Wednesday, November 19

Acts 7:54-60


Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Over chapters 4 and 5 in Acts we have seen growing opposition to the gospel. The intensity of the opposition has escalated from arresting and warning the apostles; to arresting, warning and beating them; to what is now essentially a lynch-mob.

Stephen is dragged before the council, accused of blasphemy, and challenged to defend himself. He does so by recounting the history of Israel leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. He accuses his accusers of being guilty of putting Jesus, the “Righteous One,” to death and the council is enraged. But what drives then to suddenly turn into a murderous mob that stones Stephen to death making him the first Christian martyr?


Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him.

The line we need to pay attention to is where Stephen says: 


I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God... 


We can almost miss this but Stephen’s choice of words here is incredibly important!
First, by claiming that Jesus is at the right hand of God Stephen is again identifying Jesus as the Messiah. The Jewish council would have recognized that Stephen was identifying Jesus as the “Son of Man” in Daniel 7. They would have interpreted this as making Jesus equal to God and therefor as the highest form of blasphemy.


Second, the image of Jesus standing is very significant. This the only time in scripture that Jesus is mentioned as standing in heaven; usually he is seated at the right hand of the Father. Stephen’s accusers would have recalled passages from the scriptures like:


Psalm 68:1
May God arise, may his enemies be scattered;
 may his foes flee before him.
Isaiah 3:13
The Lord takes his place in court;
 he rises to judge the people.

They were enraged because they knew that the image of Jesus standing meant he was standing in judgment over them as enemies of God for what they were doing to Stephen! These religious leaders faced two options: either they responded to the truth about Jesus with repentance or they had to kill the messenger. They chose to put Stephen to death.
But there is something else to see here.


Many scholars think that Jesus is standing not just to judge Stephen’s murderers, but in honor of his servant.


In Psalm 116:15 we read:
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of one of his saints.


In Jesus’ parable of the talents the master says to his servant:


‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
(Matthew 25:23)


I think we see a beautiful picture here of Jesus standing to honor his faithful servant Stephen and to welcome him home! 


So as stones hurled by hate-filled men rained down on him Stephen also had two options. He could return their hatred with his own bitterness and curses; or he could turn his eyes toward Jesus who stood to welcome him into heaven. He chose Jesus.

Pastor Brian Coffey

Tuesday, November 18th

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Tuesday, November 18

Acts 7:1-3; 51-53

And the high priest said, "Are these things so?" And Stephen said: "Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, 'Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.'

From here Stephen launches into a 48 verse-long sermon that covers the history of Israel from Abraham to Joseph to Moses to David to Solomon. I would encourage you to go back and read the whole of chapter 6 in your Bible. While Stephen is recounting the history of God’s people you can almost see the men who had arrested him nodding their heads; uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh. They knew the history and Stephen wanted them to know that he knew the history as well. Then, after 48 verses, he starts to talk about Jesus and his whole tone changes!

"You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it."

My first role in ministry was part time Youth Pastor at a church in Glen Ellen. I was in seminary at the time so it was a great way to get my feet wet in ministry while completing my education.
Just a few weeks into my new role I needed a haircut so I dropped into an old fashioned barber shop in Wheaton near where I lived at the time. When I say “old fashioned” I mean the striped barber shop pole outside and men only inside. I sat down to wait for my turn and reached for a magazine - and immediately noticed that most of them were rather inappropriate for a public place! I also noticed the conversation was liberally sprinkled with profane language.
I thought about leaving - but that would have been pretty awkward since I just sat down. So I just sat and waited. When my turn came I sat in the barber’s big chair and just wanted to get my hair cut and get out of there. But the barber was a talker and started right in.


“Hey, you’re new here aren’t ya?”


“Yes.”


“Whaddaya want?”


“Just a basic haircut.”


“O.K., gotcha. So, where do you live?”


“In Wheaton.”


“Whaddaya do?”


Now I had a choice to make! If I said I was a “Youth Pastor” I had a feeling the whole conversation was going to change! So I said, “I’m a teacher.”


I avoided what would have certainly been an uncomfortable moment and I avoided the conversation that may have followed.


Stephen didn’t do that.


"You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it."

Problem!

In essence Stephen moves from “uh-huh to unh-unh” ...

He turns the tables on his accusers by putting them on trial!

He accuses the council of being “stiff-necked.” This is a phrase that meant stubborn and prideful.

He says they are also “uncircumcised in heart.” The physical mark of circumcision was to be a reminder of their covenant with God, but Stephen is telling them that although they have the physical mark, their hearts are far from God.


He goes on to state that they have resisted the Holy Spirit, persecuted the prophets and murdered the “Righteous One.” Notice that “Righteous One” is capitalized; that’s because it is written as a title. Stephen is referring directly to Jesus as the Messiah of God which his accusers would have considered blasphemy.

We see here that Stephen was a man of grace but also a man of truth. When challenged to defend himself he spoke the truth about Jesus, even when he knew it was likely to enrage his listeners.

The truth is that the truth can sometimes get you into trouble!

So when you are asked what you believe or why you go to church or why you read the Bible, do you ever stop short of sharing the truth about Jesus or the gospel?

Ask God through the Holy Spirit to give you both the boldness to speak the truth and the grace to do so with love.


Pastor Brian Coffey

Monday, November 17th

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Monday, November 17

Acts 6:8-15


And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. Then they secretly instigated men who said, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God." And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and they set up false witnesses who said, "This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us." And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

When we think of the word “hero” some of us think of fictional characters like Batman, Rocky Balboa or Jack Bauer. Some of us think of athletes like Michael Jordan or LeBron James. But, in general, I think most of us would agree that we tend to throw the word “hero” around a bit too easily.

I recently came across the story of a Pakistani teenager named Aitzaz Hasan. In January of this year 17 year old Hasan noticed a suspicious looking man walking toward his high school in Pakistan. He quickly recognized that the man was a suicide bomber wearing a jacket loaded with 13 pounds of explosives and clearly intended to detonate the bomb inside the school. Thinking quickly, Hasan ran toward the man and challenged him to a fight. After a brief struggle the cowardly bomber set off his explosives, killing both of them instantly. Hasan’s courage and decisive action saved the lives of over 1,500 faculty and students in the high school. I think we would all agree that Hasan was a hero.

In John 15 Jesus defined true heroism when he said, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lays down his life for a friend.”

We are introduced to just such a hero in Acts 6.

And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.

Stephen was one of the seven men chosen to administer the distribution of food to the widows in chapter 5. Along with the others he was chosen for his Godly character and wisdom. Here Luke tells us he was a man “full of grace and power.”

When I think about this description of Stephen it occurs to me that, in my experience, those two words rarely describe the same person. That is, when it comes to both personality and behavior, human beings tend to gravitate toward one of those two polar opposites. People are either graceful or they are powerful.

Some folks are gentle, soft-spoken, patient, and very easy to be around. You probably know someone in your life right now that you would describe as full of grace.

Other people are more confident, in charge, type “A”, “get it done” type people. These folks aren’t always comfortable to be around, but they get a lot done! You might have a boss or co-worker that you would describe as full of power.
   
So, at first glance “grace” and “power” don’t seem to go together! Grace is a gentle word; power is a stronger, harsher word; yet Luke says that Stephen was both!
   
Stephen was full of grace, Luke says.

What is “grace?”

The Greek word translated as grace is charis, and it carries the meaning of gift, and specifically the gift of God’s favor.

The gift of God’s grace is at the very center of the gospel.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God... (Ephesians 2:8)

Interestingly, in John 1:14 Jesus is described in the same way:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

So what does it mean to be “full of grace?”

To be full of grace is to be full of God’s favor.

In Ephesians 1:4 we read:

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.


To be full of grace is to be full of God’s love.

In Ephesians 3:17-19 Paul writes:

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.


To be full of grace is to be full of God’s forgiveness.

Ephesians 1:7 says:

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace

To be full of grace is to be full of God’s peace.

In Colossians 3:15 Paul reminds us to...

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts

To be full of grace is to be full of God’s Spirit.

In Romans 8:16 we read:

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.


Stephen was full of grace because he was filled with the gift of the gospel; because his life was defined by the gospel; and because his identity was anchored in the grace and love of Christ.

Luke also says that Stephen was full of power.

What is “power” and where did Stephen’s power come from?

The word is dunamis, from which we take our words dynamic and dynamite. Dunamis refers to might, strength or ability.

Luke says,

But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.

His power came in the form of wisdom; and his wisdom came from the Holy Spirit.

In John 15 Jesus said:

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.


Stephen was full of power because he had received the gift of the Holy Spirit when he put his faith in Jesus.


What I think what we most need to see here is that, although Stephen was certainly a hero of the faith - as we will see later in this chapter - he was no different than you and me. He was simply a man who believed the gospel and had allowed Jesus to fill him with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit then filled him with both grace and power.


I believe the Spirit wants to do the same for each one of us.

Pastor Brian Coffey

Friday, Nov. 14

Friday

This week we have been examining the role of serving in the life of the early church.  It is clear to anyone who reads the first few chapters of the book of Acts that these early Christians were remarkably compassionate and willing to sacrifice in order to serve those around them.  It is also clear that this is one of the qualities of the early church that God used to make such a significant and lasting ripple effect in the world.

However, we have to admit that Christianity is not the only world religion or faith system that teaches the value of serving others.  In fact just about every major world religion teaches that we should do good to others and care for the poor.  Even atheists, those who do not believe in any God at all, will sacrifice for the good of others.  We have to admit that Christianity does not have exclusive claim to the practice of service to others.  So, what makes Christian service so unique?  What distinguishes Christian service from any other kind of service or humanitarian efforts?  

Elizabeth Elliott tells the story of an African legend about Jesus. Understand, it is not in the Bible. It is only a legend. But I there is a strong lesson here for all of us about what it means to serve in the name of Jesus.
"One day Jesus said to his disciples: "I'd like you to carry a stone for Me." He didn't give any explanation. So the disciples looked around for a stone to carry, and Peter, being the practical sort, sought out the smallest stone he could possibly find. After all, Jesus didn't give any regulations for weights and size! So he put it in his pocket. Jesus then said: "Follow me." He led them on a journey. About noontime Jesus had everyone sit down. He waved his hands and all the stones turned to bread. He said, "Now it's time for lunch." In a few seconds, Peter's lunch was over. When lunch was done Jesus told them to stand up. He said again, "I'd like you to carry a stone for Me." This time Peter said, "Aha! Now I get it!" So he looked around and saw a small boulder. He hoisted it on his back and it was painful, it made him stagger. But he said, "I can't wait for supper." Jesus then said: "Follow Me." He led them on a journey, with Peter barely being able to keep up. Around supper time Jesus led them to the side of a river. He said, "Now everyone throw your stones into the water." They did. The he said, "Follow Me," and began to walk. Peter and the others looked at hi dumbfounded. Jesus sighed and said, "Don't you remember what I asked you to do?  Who were you carrying the stone for?"

The difference between Christian service and any other kind of service may not be in the act of service itself, but in whose name and for whose sake the service is done.  

Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him,  “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  - James 2:15-16

James has a good point here doesn’t he?  But for the Christian, this principle works the other way around as well.  Think about it, what good would it do for us to feed, clothe, visit and care for those in need, and never tell them Why?  We might succeed in keeping a person from starving physically, but what about the hunger in their soul?  Ultimately what good is it if we keep a few more people from going hungry, but we do not tell them about the one who said that He is the “Bread of Life”?  Christian service does not involve less than meeting the physical needs of others, but it always involves more – because it is done in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ!

Listen to how Acts describes the results of the compassion and service of the early church.
God’s message was preached in ever-widening circles. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.  – Acts 6:7

Jeff Frazier

Thursday, Nov. 13

Thursday

In Acts 6:1 we read about a dispute between two groups of Christians in the early church.  The Greek speaking Jewish Christians feel that the Hebrew Christians are treating their widows unfairly.  So these Grecian Jews bring their concern to the Apostles, and this is how the Apostles decided to handle it…

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.  Brothers, 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 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.  – Acts 6:2-4

I have to admit that in English it sounds almost like the Apostles are saying that this issue is beneath them, or that they are too important to deal with such an insignificant problem, but this is really not what they are saying at all.  In fact, the phrase “wait on tables” is actually an expression from the time pertaining to acts of hospitality and service.  The Apostles are faced with a very real dilemma; they cannot ignore their calling to the ministry of the word in order to meet this need, but they also must not ignore this need in order to focus on the ministry of the word.  The church has to have both the ministry of the word and the ministry of service and compassion if it is going to have the ripple effect of spiritual influence in the world.  We must keep both word and deed continually in balance.  There are many churches today that focus on of these areas to the exclusion of the other.  There are churches that are theologically sound and doctrinally squared away, but they do not have much in the way of ministry to the poor.  On the other hand, there are churches that are very active and innovative in their service and outreach, but they have very little theological depth, and they seem to have lost touch with why they are serving in the first place. 

Basically the Apostles recognized the simple fact that as the church continued to grow and the various ministry needs continued to increase, they could no longer “do it all”.  The leaders of the early church understood that if they were to keep the ministry of the word in balance with the ministry of service, they were going to have to develop other leaders!  This is a reality that many pastors and churches are unwilling or unable to face.  The traditional approach to ministry is what might be called the “pastor-focused” church.  The pastor-focused church is the church where the pastor does all of the preaching, the teaching, the leading, the praying, the evangelizing, the shepherding, etc. and the people sit around and watch.  In the pastor-focused church, the pastor is the professional who does the ministry, and the people are the amateur spectators.  The problem with the pastor-focused church is that it is extremely limited and totally unbiblical.  

The biblical concept of church is one where all of God’s people are ministers, and the pastor’s role is to teach, lead and equip the people for ministry.  This is precisely what is taking place here in Acts 6; new leaders and servants are raised up because of a new need in a growing church.  Did you catch that?  As the church grows, so do the needs of the people, and so do the opportunities for ministry.  I don’t know if you see yourself as a spectator of or a participant in the ministry of the church?  There is nothing wrong with someone attending a church and just observing and learning for a while. However, if you truly want to follow Jesus, then there really is no place for spectators.  

What would have happened to the early church if the Apostles had insisted on doing it all themselves?  What would have happened if the people had insisted on the Apostles doing everything for them?  The church would have stopped growing, stagnated and slowly begun to lose its powerful spiritual influence in the world, and we would not be here today to carry on the message and mission of Jesus Christ in the world.



Jeff Frazier