What is God’s Mission-Part 4
Crisis in the Early Church
“What if we don’t have enough chairs?” I have heard that asked so many times before as I’m setting up for an event. It’s usually followed with, “that would be a good problem to have.” Meaning, there are a lot of people showing up to hear the gospel and God brought more to the event than we were expecting. This is usually said by someone who dreams bigger than I do. I bring up this snap shot of my life to say that we can’t escape problems or crisis as we are a part of God’s mission. Either we will underplan for what God is doing or overplan in our human, sinful nature as it rears it's prideful, ugly head. It is inescapable. Even in Acts (such a great book of the Bible!) they ran into problems. Not only did they run into a problem, they had a solution put in place so needs were met and the mission continued.
Apostles Addresses the Chuch
I suggest that you open your Bible to Acts 6:1-7. This is the story of when the Hellenistic Jews, or the Jews that lived outside of Israel and were visiting Jerusalem, complained that their widows were being overlooked in their distribution of food program. A legitimate complaint because we are called by God to take care of widows. I love the solution. The disciples didn’t want to neglect their ministry of the Word because in order to expand God’s mission, we need to understand God’s Word. So they suggested appointing 7 men that will oversee the ministry of taking care of widows. Not only do they suggest this, but they suggest that the people choose the 7 men. This way all widows are taken care of and prayer for the mission continues. The men chosen were Hellenistic Jews. Not only does the mission continue, but more are added to the church. This is God being faithful to His mission and caring for us at the same time.
I just find this amazing. The leaders of the early church found a way that the widows needs are met and still continued on with the mission. Plus, more people got involved in what God is doing. I know that I said this already, but this is how it should be. I’m praying that our churches are following this example.
Acts 6:1-7 Read With A Video
Have Your Ear Tuned to God
What are ways that we can be praying for this? That is a great question and here are my thoughts.
Listen: Take time to listen to God about what the needs are in your community and church. Once you know what those needs are, ask if you are called to help meet those needs. Then go and meet those needs. Ask God the best way of meeting those needs. If you are a Pastor, who can you ask that can meet these needs? This way, you as a Pastor will focus on your task of equipping the saints, the ministry of the Word, and prayer.
Prayer for Our Pastors and Other Leaders: I wrote a blog about this as well, but the bottom line is that their job is prayer, the ministry of the Word, and equipping the saints. They are charged by God to spend time reading and studying the Word of God. Then to turn around and teach it to us, the workers in the church so we are equipped to do God’s mission and teach others to do the same. Let’s pray that they will gain an understanding of scripture that will help to move the mission of the church farther. That their time in the Word will be refreshing for them and for the church. In order to do God’s mission, we need to understand it. And we need to understand it His way.
- Balance: To me, one thing this passage speaks to is the importance of balance. Balance between doing what we can to advance the kingdom and taking care of the needs of people in doing that. This takes prayer. I’m not just talking about intercession, but also listening to God as well. God will let us know if we need to retreat or if we need to go forward. Having folks in your church committed to meeting needs of the Church and the mission is extremely important. It’s always important for the Church not to forget it’s members without compromising the mission. I will say this, that the mission should take priority because that is what God calls us to do, to put others before ourselves. But sometimes, for the sake of the mission, we need to slow down and take care of the church members inside our respective fellowships. God will help us discern this.
Praying for the 7 Men Choosen
Churches in Crisis: There will be churches in crisis, it is going to happen. If your church is going through this, pray for the leaders to have a solution. If you hear about another church going through this, pray for that church. God in His wisdom, like he did in Jerusalem, will solve the problem, IF, we seek Him instead of operating under our own power. The best part is this: the solution then helped the church to grow. We can have confidence that God is going to grow the church even during a crisis. Pray for this as well, that in the midst of the crisis, God will grow his kingdom.
Many Priests Became Believers: The priests were some of the biggest opponents to the early church. They must have been watching and waiting for the church to fail because of this situation. When they saw the solution, many of the priests believed in Christ. Wouldn’t it be great that as a crisis is being solved in our churches, those that are waiting for us to fail will see our love and faithfulness (and HIS love and faithfulness) and become believers? I think that this is something else we should be praying in the midst of a crisis. The world is watching us to be who we say we are, so let’s be who we say we are and pray that those outside of the church will see who we really are.
- Your Thoughts: These are mine, do you have any? Please share ways to pray that you think I might have missed. Jesus is the hope of the world and we need to pray that he will do what he promised to do.
Who is your favorite deacon of the Early Church?
Everyone Please With the Solution and the Church Grew
When I was working for Sweetser, a group home company that served children, my crisis training had the concept that crisis was not only danger but opportunity. When a crisis hits, the danger is that the Church could close or shrink in numbers. But the opportunity is there for the Church to grow. I’m going to be praying for churches to grow during a crisis, in a way that says that God was involved. Let’s look at our crisis as opportunity to grow and learn. I’m thankful for how the disciples handled their situation. Let's follow their example. Let’s pray that they will never neglect their ministry of the Word and prayer and that solutions will happen without compromising the mission.
Above all folks, let’s pray, pray, and pray, early and often.