Read - Acts 6v1-6
Message - Scott Woodburn
Church government is boring! Who wants to think about the structure of the church? While it might make us roll our eyes, it should not surprise us that the Lord is interested in how His church is governed.
As the church was growing a complaint arose that the Hellenist widows were being neglected in the daily distribution (v1). Let's break that down for a second. Who were the Hellenists? These were believers whose primary language and culture was Greek. They had grown frustrated that the Greek widows weren't receiving their support in a timely fashion. Food, clothing and other needs would be distributed to the poor on a weekly and daily basis and unfortunately it seemed that the Hebrew widows (those from a Jewish background) were at the top of the list.
The Apostles' sought to solve the problem but realised that they should not be involved in the work. To do so would see them neglecting the preaching of the Word and this would not be appropriate (v2) Seven men would be identified and appointed to the work instead (v3, 5-6). Meanwhile the Apostles would continue to devote themselves to prayer and to the preaching of the Word (v4).
Later this structure would develop in the local church as elders and deacons. The elders would be the spiritual overseers of the work and the deacons would look after the needs of the congregation. While you may be bored silly by discussions of church government, let me ask you to consider the Biblical pattern here. Elders committed to prayer and the Word. Deacons committed to meeting the everyday needs of the congregation. Does this match what you see in your own church?
As a Presbyterian I am sorry to say that our denominational structures do not reflect the Biblical model. Sadly elders have become glorified delivery men and the office of deacon isn't recognised. May God forgive our closed ears and may He reform our structures. The Apostles are gone but today Elders should be devoted to the Word of God and prayer. Elders...are you? If an Elder has no time for the things of God, if he is regularly absent from the church fellowship and never leads in spiritual matters, he should not be an elder. If your congregation has thirty elders, then those thirty men should be at every service and every time of prayer.
Equally if our church is so busy that our elders cannot be devoted to the Word and prayer then something must change. We often expect our Pastors to be the best preachers ever and yet do we ever consider how much time they've had during the week to be in the Word? Fellowships should insist that time is ring-fenced for reading, prayer, study and preaching, for if our Pastors are ill-prepared then we will be under fed. Church government may always seem boring but don't ever believe it is unimportant. May Christ be honoured in the structures and offices of our fellowships.
Q88 What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption? The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption are, his ordinances, especially the Word, Sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.