An Effective Church Needs to be Led Well (part 2)

August 23, 2011 — Leave a comment

As we are looking at church effectiveness and comparing it to chapter six of Acts, there are some significant things the early church apostles did in order to lead the church well.

One is that these apostles knew exactly what tasks were most important for them to do and they did not deviate from those tasks. Three times in this passage we see the apostles say that their priority was to “teach” the word of God.[1] The setting for this passage is that the church had been experiencing tremendous growth. Just before Acts 5:42, the apostles had been arrested and flogged by Jewish religious leaders because they were teaching and follow Jesus’ ways. The religious leaders let the men go after having them flogged because they believed the apostles would no longer be important and relevant to the community and the culture at that time. However, we know that “every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message: ‘Jesus is the Messiah.’”[2] Right from the beginning they knew what was most important to them, and they continued to do that.

Next in the story from Acts, the Greek-speaking believers complained because they believed their widows were being discriminated against in the food distribution compared to the Hebrew-speaking widows. The Greek-speaking believers had the attitude of “Hey, they are getting what we want/deserve, we won’t tolerate that.” With this in mind, we see the apostles react in an interesting way by quickly calling a meeting and bringing all the believers together—not just a few, not just the core leaders, and not just the people they know will agree with them. They call all the believers together, and they announce what is going to happen by making this bold declaration: “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.”[3] What a bold statement! The apostles of the early church made an important executive decision. They knew what the church needed to do in order to be successful, they declared it, and they organized it. This means that if we want our church to be well led, we need to be slightly aristocratic in our leadership of the church. The Senior Pastor should have the freedom to make key decisions and lead well. He or she has been elected to lead the church and should be given the freedom to do that well.

But what about those 12 leaders gave them the ability to be leaders? Church expert Craig Van Gelder gives us a good description of church leaders in his book, The Essence of the Church, when he writes, “First, leaders in the church must have a mature Christian character. . . .Second, the Bible assumes that leaders in the church will be selected based on their gifts and skills. The Spirit gives spiritual gifts to all in the church. Some gifts relate directly to leadership.”[4] We see both of these statements from Van Gelder in relation to the leaders we have observed in chapter six of Acts. The apostles were very mature in their faith since 11 of them had spent three years with Jesus and had already endured some persecution because of their faith. These early leaders knew they preached and taught well, so they selected seven men to do the food ministry. They knew that effective leaders focus on doing one thing well, while ineffective leaders attempt to do everything and do nothing well.

This shows church leadership, staff, and members of the church the necessity of finding their areas of strength. When giving a talk on this same passage of scripture, Andy Stanley, pastor of one of the largest churches in America, North Point Community Church, states that we should, “Only do what only you can do. The less you do, the more you accomplish.”[5] Say what? Less is more? The essence of what Andy is teaching is that leaders in the church, in order to be effective, need to focus in on the few things that only they can do. These 12 apostles were clearly called to preach and teach based on the three years they spent with Jesus. These 12 men had been personally equipped by Jesus to be leaders of the early church, and no one else at that time had been as equipped or given as much authority as they had. Clearly they were called to preach and do nothing else. We see them leading the church by having the authority to make an important decision. They stayed focused to do only what they could do, and that allowed them to lead well, which is exactly what the church in our culture needs to do: lead well.


[1] Acts 5:42, 6:3,4

[2] Acts 5:42

[3] Acts 6:2-4

[4] Craig Van Gelder, The Essence of the Church: A Community Created by the Spirit (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 181.

[5] Andy Stanley, “When Less is More” (lecture, Catalyst West Conference at Mariners Church, Orange County, CA, April 23, 2010).

 

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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