lesson
13

Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

When Church problems occur
Acts 6:1-7

warm up

   1. Have you ever been ignored, overlooked, slighted? If so, how did you feel?
   2.
Which of the following a normal response? Which is best?
      
[  ] Tears [  ] Anger [  ] Grumbling [  ] Let it slide [  ] Talking to those involved
   3. Have you ever been close to someone (such as a spouse, friend or child) who you felt was being ignored, overlooked or slighted in some way? Which best fits you in that situation?
       [  ] Peace maker [  ] Hot head [  ] Water shed [  ] Protest marcher [  ] other
   4. Have you ever been accused of ignoring, overlooking, slighting someone? If so, which best fits your reaction and which best fits what should be your reaction?
       [  ] Defensive [  ] No comment [  ] So What  [  ] I'll try to do better   

wise up
  

This text is a great lesson on "good leadership qualities." The way the apostles handled this situation is a model for all leaders. Rather than take the complaints being made personally, they sought solutions. In the end, the delegation of work actually was beneficial to the apostles as well as those who had made the complaints.

I. Leaders should listen for the rumbling of grumbling: Vs. 1
   1. Even when good people have a complaint, they will often gripe and grumble to those in or outside of a congregation who cannot do anything about the problem. This usually only creates a destructive undercurrent in a congregation or an unhealthy reflection on the church. In your opinion, what is the most harmful thing about "murmuring?" .
   2. The "Grecians" were the Greek speaking Jews who were reared outside of Palestine. The "Hebrews" were the Jews who resided within Palestine and who could speak and read the Hebrew language. There were obviously some feelings that prejudice was being shown by the apostles. While the charge of neglect was true, it was not intentional and certainly not motivated by any prejudices. While sometimes prejudice can exist within a congregation, shouldn't the leadership always make every effort to treat everyone equally.
   3. Sooner or later in every congregation, someone will have their feelings hurt and feel that they have been neglected or slighted in some manner. The neglect may be real or imagined but the problem is real. If someone began to murmur to you about someone or something, what would you suggest that they do?
   4. Rather than become defensive or angry at those who were lodging complaints the apostles stepped up to the plate and began to make suggestions that would prevent any future problem.

II. Leaders should act rather than react: Vs. 2-4
   1.  The response of the apostles was "Look brethren, we really have our plate full preaching the word. It is not reasonable that we should stop serving spiritual food in order to serve tables."  In essence, they were saying, "We are glad this came up because we are stretched to the limit." What suggestions did they make in verses 2-3? Did this please the brethren?
   2. The apostles began to "delegate" and "empower" the members to do more. Often murmuring is a sign of "growing pains" and an indication that there is a need to delegate more work to others. What are some practical benefits of allowing others to share in the work? 

   3. Do you think that serving tables was considered as unimportant to the apostles? Was it their primary work? Isn't it true that there are often many important things to be done but we must learn to prioritize our work because of time limitations? What two major priorities did the apostles see for themselves?
   4. In verse 3, what three qualities were the seven men to possess? Would honesty, spirituality and wisdom be good qualities for every Christian? Does every Christian have such qualities?

III. Leaders should work with those willing to work: Vs. 5-7
   1. Who actually selected the seven men? It is interesting that the names of all the men selected are "Greek names." The Hebrews were willing to let the Greeks serve in this capacity which must have promoted unity and trust among the brethren. If Christians of different cultures and heritage cannot get along with one another, who can? 
   2. Of the seven men chosen, two of them later become evangelists (Stephen and Philip.) Often those who get involved in serving the church physically (as deacons for example) will grow in their talents and abilities and become the spiritual leaders in the church. 
   3. In verse 6, the apostles laid hands upon the seven (which in their culture was an outward sign of showing approval and appointment.) By being supportive of those appointed to work, those in leadership encourage others to get involved.
 

wrap up

1.  When complaints arise, the wise will also rise to the occasion and seek to find a solution. In this situation a potential crisis was avoided by a leadership that was humble enough to listen and learn. As an added bonus, the church actually grew (Vs. 7.)

Assignment

  Please read Acts 6:8-15 and Acts 7:1-60 for next week        copyright 2001