Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47)
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. 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 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 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”…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. (Acts 6:1-4 &7)There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. (I Cor 12:4-6)
Most of us who follow Jesus long for explosive church growth and caring community paralleling the pattern displayed in the first few chapters of Acts. It can appear that the Church’s early phase was organic and joyful, needing no formal structure. But Acts 6:1-4 shows the everyday issue of food distribution threatened to slow the growth of the Kingdom of God. Thankfully the Apostles entrusted elements of their authority to other gifted and qualified disciples. This administrative and organizational move seems to have been the catalyst for continued Kingdom growth.
Unlike Church life some of us have experienced, the early Church gathered daily and interacted around daily basics like food preparation and consumption. This alone created a sense of community. Jesus had entrusted Kingdom leadership to the Apostles. Delegation of that leadership became necessary for advancement of the Gospel message.
If we desire Kingdom expansion, it could be helpful to contrast these two early elements of Kingdom community life with our culture’s promotion of individualism and self sufficiency. We have no doubt been further alienated from tangible community life by substituting personal interaction with online technology.
The growth of the Church has always been marked by thriving communities established in local settings. No less important are Church leaders who regularly recognize and ordain gifts of faithful members of Christ’s body to unleash the full impact of Jesus’ Kingdom in a way that pleases Him.
Those committed to church community life and enfolding others into the Kingdom actively seek to identify and develop spiritual gifts. If you are new to these ideas or have neglected them for a while, please consider contacting South Fellowship’s leaders to start a spiritual gifts evaluation and make connections that will involve you with our community of faith.
By Kathleen Petersen