We can spend our time in prayer and preaching and teaching the word. Acts 6:4
This decision by the apostles came at a time when the Holy Spirit was bringing thousands to the church daily. This growth brought with it very real logistical problems. Don’t you think they had babies crying during the services? Where would they get all the bread and wine for a communion service for five thousand people? Every day there were new widows and orphans to be taken under wing due to the persecutions. A million logistical and bureaucratic needs – all legitimate – crying out for immediate attention. Their response? We need to pray more and get into the Word more.
Many of the books on church growth today focus on all these logistical issues. Many provide programs for integrating the newcomers into the life of the church. There are special classes you can teach so that you develop the leaders required to take care of the entire visitation and shut-in ministries that come with an onslaught of people. But how did the first mega-church deal with these things? They assigned some people to take care of them but the leadership got more and more into prayer and study. Were the apostles hiding from the increased responsibility by delegating it to others? Not at all. They were actually choosing the more difficult of the two sides of the issue. It takes more courage to deal with people’s spiritual needs than it does to take care of their physical needs. People will often respond with gratitude when you feed them, give them directions to find their way, seat them or help them in some other way. People are rarely grateful when you point out their sins and try to push them to take care of business with God. It is a rare person who is humble enough to respond with gratitude when confronted with their flaws.
Because of the difficulty of the task, the apostles chose to spend more time in personal prayer. However, it should not be only the church leadership that steps up to this task. Prayer is something any Christian can do. It is universally available. There is an abundance of need for prayer, but there is rarely a surplus of prayer warriors. In our busy schedules we often feel that we are too occupied to spend time praying and meditating. In reality, life is too busy to NOT spend time praying and meditating. We need that time to ground ourselves, to return to our roots, and to remember our dependence on God.
This year the church I pastor grew 150%. If that trend continues, there will be many logistical problems. We will need to be creative, inventive, patient and accepting. But above all, let us determine to spend more time in prayer, in Bible study, and in teaching the Word.
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