Acts 6:1-7 gives us a clear path to handling problems that arise in church. These problems can range from what color of carpet the new building is supposed to have to how finances are handled to the pastor’s message. Whatever the problems, God’s Word always has the answer.
In this particular text, there was a group of widows who were not having their needs met. If you know anything about ministry in the church, when a group of widows is not having their needs met, trouble will ensue. And this is exactly what happened in the early church. Remember, this is a mega-church with over 3,000 members in it (cf. Acts 2) and there were great numbers being added to this church everyday.
At any rate, these widows were Greek speaking and a complaint rose with them that the the other widows who spoke Hebrew were getting served but they weren’t. When the complaint became something big enough, the news reached the apostles who trying their best to get everything organized; after all, again, this is a mega-church and they’re snowed under with so many ministry opportunities that most likely their heads were turning every which way!
The apostles at this point take it upon themselves to let the people know that it is not wise for them to deal with the complaint. It’s not that they didn’t want to serve the people, but they were trying to help the people see that their priority was to spend time in prayer and in the Word of God so that they could deal with the spiritual life of this new church. Priorities within churches should always be laid out properly–as evidenced here–with the Word of God and prayer from the pastor and staff as their priorities. So they told the congregation to find seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.
Now why didn’t the apostles solve the problem for the church? Again, their priority was prayer and the ministry of the Word. In other words, what they were doing was training the church on how to handle their problems. It’s not always the leadership that has to handle the problems: the church needs to learn how to handle issues that arise in a Biblical and righteous way. The apostles simply told them what to do, and guess what! They did it! The congregation came to an agreement that they would do what was best for the apostles, what was best for themselves, and they found the seven men who needed to carry out this ministry for the widows of all stripes.
When these men were presented to the apostles, they laid hands on them which is symbolic of passing on the authority to these men who were full of faith and power to carry out the ministry to the church while they kept their priorities of praying and administering the Word of God to the people.
This is proper. A pastor and staff should not have the sole responsibility of solving all the problems in the church. On the contrary, the pastor and staff are to teach the congregation how to handle problems within the church. When priorities are kept straight by the leadership and the congregation, then the result is a lost and dying world seeing how things are done well, in love and in righteousness. They will see the church being the church and handling the problems as they ought to handle them. And then the church will increase in number daily as it did in this early mega-church.