The Dance: Acts 6:1-4
“1) Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. 2) So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. 3) Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. 4) But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”” Acts‬ ‭6‬:‭1‬-‭4‬ ‭
The gospel continued to be dynamic, it produced exponential numerical growth. The number of disciples were increasing… very fast.
This automatically challenged their system of caring for growing needs. Sure enough, the Hellenistic Jews observed that their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. The complaint proved to be valid. It exposed a weakness in the organizational structure of the early church.
They were faced with two possible solutions. First, they could expand the job description of the twelve apostles. But they were already being stretched by taking care of the spiritual needs of the congregation. There was no end to the need for prayer, worship, teaching and preaching. These values embodied the Great Commission to make disciples.
Second, they could create a new position and appoint godly men to care for the physical needs of the congregation. Ironically, this solution matched the model of having both priests and levites in the Old Testament. At some point both will be needed.
The whole congregation gave hearty approval to the second idea. Though I cannot say this established a congregational form of church government, I will observe that the apostles were servant leaders. They both listened to the people and communicated well in decision making.
Their suggestion was to select seven men of good reputation who were full of the Spirit and of wisdom whom they could put in charge of this task. They did not micromanage them. They turned the task over to them. Responsibility must come with decision making authority.
Meanwhile, verse 4 is absolutely paramount. The apostles “devoted themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word.” They could not afford to neglect these two priorities.
They were getting bogged down with a lot of “stuff.” Granted, it was good “stuff”, but they were being stretch and distracted. They were becoming so busy “for God” they had no margins left to spend time “with God.” It was time for an urgent reset. They needed help!
I marvel at this chapter. Growing ministries require flexibility in expanding organizational structure. Momentum can be lost when the “God focus” is blurred. It can also be stifled when organization and structure becomes an end in itself.
The dance between fruitful ministry and effective organization can be challenging, but it is so marvelous when they glide across the floor in perfect step with each other. Gold metal dance partners are patient with each other and never stop learning, developing and adding to their routine. The problem is that they make it look easy. It takes a long time to build a great dance.
Every effective church, ministry and movement of necessity must pass through Acts chapter six. You cannot skip effective organization.
Moses and the children of Israel had to pass through this chapter. Every king in the Old Testament had to pass through this chapter with his administration. As the gospel spread to new regions as recorded in the New Testament, every local church had to master “the dance.”
I beg you not to skip over this chapter to quickly. No dance is exactly the same. The dance partners are different and the routine is constantly changing, but the dance can be glorious.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global