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Growth is something a lot of churches are unfamiliar with, especially in the Mainline, where as many as 90% of churches are plateaued or declining. But the early church can teach us, not only that it’s natural for healthy churches to grow, but also how to deal with growing pains. Pastor Luke teaches from Acts 5:40–6:7 in “Systems,” part 2 of his 4-part series “Now What?”Talk It Over
OPEN. 1. Would you rather serve on a church board, or get a root canal?
UNPACK. Read Acts 5: 40-6: 7. Note: “Hellenists” means Greek-speakers from the Jewish communities dispersed around the Mediterranean Sea. The “Hebrews” are Aramaic-speakers from the areas around Jerusalem.
2. What is specific problem is identified in https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Acts%206:1? Was growth the cause of the problem, or did it merely uncover an underlying problem?
3. Read Exodus 15:19-24. How is that incident like the one in Acts 6? How are they different?
4. Could the Twelve (Peter and the other Apostles) have solved the problem by limiting the growth of the church? Why or why not? What are some steps that would have achieved that? What would be the result?
5. What system did the Twelve develop to address the problem? What, according to verse 7, were the results of doing so?
6. Priests were likely Hebrews rather than Hellenists, but Luke reports (v.7) that many of them joined the church. How is that result paradoxical?
APPLY. 7. All seven men chosen as deacons (literally, “to serve tables”), in addition to the criteria in v. 3, have Greek names, meaning they were from among the Hellenists. What principle can we learn from this about how to build systems that solve problems in the church?
8. In your church, who are like the “Hebrews” in this passage, and who are like the “Hellenists?” How?
9. In your church, who are like the Hellenists’ widows? What needs might be being neglected? What new systems might address those needs?