Lay leadership is born

Acts 6:1-7
by Brian Knitter

How did we get lay leaders and pastors? In the Christian church, it starts here in Acts chapter six. Up to this point, Peter and John were messengers for Christ. They had been called to spread the Good News, and had been called to minister to this new group of Christians, but it would appear that they and the rest of the 12 disciples were doing all the work! If they were working all the time, it would be difficult to spread God's word.

The solution came by way of a dispute. The new Christian "church" had Jewish converts, Greek converts and probably some other brands of converts (we'll call them Gentiles). The Jewish converts, headed by the 12 Jewish disciples were in charge, and they were not taking care of the Greek widows. This was a huge problem because widows in this society pretty much survived based on the kindness of others. This simply wasn't the "Christian" thing to do (OK, so they were still working out the kinks). The 12 disciples were also "waiting on tables" as they put it, rather than being messengers of the Word. The solution -- find seven men, full of Spirit and wisdom, to administrate the workings of the new church -- leaving the 12 disciples free to concentrate on prayer and ministry of the Word. And thus, lay leadership was formed, along with something that looks like our modern model of church and pastor. The scripture said that all the people liked this solution. They must also have been pleased that the seven men, full of Spirit and wisdom, included Jews, Greeks and Gentiles. Though the early church was already separated by language and culture, Jewish, Greek and Gentile, (which would give rise to worship "style" if not "denominationalism"), they did find unity in the purpose, direction and teaching of the new church. After all, language, culture and "style" may differ, but God's Word remains the same -- always. Then we read in verse seven: "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." Praise God!