Did you know that whoever you are, where ever you are, and whatever you do, if you are a part of the BODY of Christ, YOU ARE IN THE MINISTRY?
If you’re a part of His Body, no matter the part, you are a part of His ministry, and therefore IN the ministry because you are a part of ONE Body, ONE Christ. The church, the entire church, is the representation of Jesus Christ on the earth today. That includes you!
1 Cor 12:18 God has placed the PARTS in THE BODY, every ONE of them, just as he wanted them to be. Colossians 2:6 Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives IN him. (NIV)
It takes all parts of the natural body to function effectively. (How would you like trying to eat without hands?) Consider this; How did the Life giving Word of Jesus Christ get to every city, village, and dusty trail He traveled? The answer? His natural, physical BODY carried Him from place to place. (No major revelation in that answer is there?) Yet, this obvious, simple, and overlooked fact may very well hold the key to the saving of many souls.
It was His BODY, His feet and legs, which transported His powerful Word all over that region. It was His eyes that saw the way, His ears that heard the cries, and His hands that touched the wounded. His physical BODY of flesh and blood was the living, moving, picture and example, then, of His Spiritual BODY today, the Church. In the package of His flesh, He was the living visible expression of Eph. 4:16, “Every joint supplies.” His ministry “THEN” when He walked the earth, is the picture of His ministry “NOW” on the earth today.
I was in a meeting once where the preacher randomly asked a woman what she did in the Church. I’m sure he was looking for an answer like greeter, children’s worker, on the worship team, or the like. Instead the preacher got an answer that I’m guessing he wasn’t expecting and has stuck with me more than 20 years. She said, “I AM a Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ cleverly disguised as a school bus driver!” She had a ministry within her reach, where she was, and with what she had! The same is true for you: YOUR MINISTRY MATTERS.
Chapter 1- When Seven Table Waiters Brought About Revival
They Did What?
You read it right. The title isn’t a mistake. However, if anything, the title of this chapter should have had a few more words injected into its middle; “When Seven Table Waiters Doing What Table Waiters Do Brought About Revival.” This account of a heavenly harvest about to be revealed isn’t a chronicle from a turn of the century spiritual awakening. Nope, this is in the Bible. (Book of Acts, chapter 6, to be exact). This time period is during the infancy of the New Testament Church. God was about to give a lesson to this young body, His Church, of how important even the most seemingly insignificant parts really are. The Head of the Church was about to teach us all that even those in what some might consider minor roles are key to the fulfilling of His vision and the harvest of many souls. To make His point unmistakable the Lord uses table waiters. These guys waiting on tables weren’t only the key to harvest, but as you’ll see, their table waiting also brought about reform in many churches. Table waiters! It’s exciting to note here that this move of God wasn’t brought about by the impassioned evangelist’s plea or as a result of a long season of prayer and fasting. Nor was it an apostle setting things in order or the pastor implementing the latest church growth technique. It was waiters doing what waiters do. I’ve got nothing against apostles, evangelists, prayer, fasting, or anything else God is doing or has His hand in. I do struggle with condensing a relationship with Emmanuel to a technique. (But that’s another book!)
If you were to look in Nave’s Topical Bible for the word revival, you’d see a listing for “revivals at Pentecost and times after Pentecost.” It lists nine revivals in the book of Acts. Most of us are familiar with the second chapter of Acts where “those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41). The three thousand added here came about at the culmination of the first service of the fledgling church after Jesus ascended. The one hundred and twenty that were in that upper room seeking the Lord had their prayers answered in a big way. The harvest of souls began with this multitude being swept into the Lord’s body. Began is the operative word here. Nave’s also lists eight other revivals in Acts: Acts 2:46–7; Acts 4:4; Acts 5:14; Acts 6:7; Acts 9:35; Acts 11:20–21; Acts 12:24; and Acts 14:1. Take the time to look closely at these verses. Every one of these revivals was significant. Every one of those souls was precious, and every one of them was placed in the body perfectly and precisely where God wanted them (1 Corinthians 12:18). Just like today, not every one that came to faith in Christ that day were preachers. I’m sure there were some evangelists and pastors set into the body that day, but there were also elders, deacons, greeters, and table waiters. Every part in the body, not just the preachers, has a vital and significant purpose and function. I’m talking about you. Your ministry matters!
Enter the Waiters
Many important lessons from Acts 6 that apply to the church today are greatly overlooked. Jesus values each and every part of His body to the highest degree. When one soul repents, all of heaven rejoices (Luke 15:7). One. There aren’t differing levels of rejoicing among the angels based on where the repentant one fits into the body of Christ. It’d be absurd to think that as a shout went out in heaven declaring, “One came to faith in Christ,” that the angels would wait to see if the new body part fit in as a preacher or a janitor and then adjusted their rejoicing accordingly. Nope, every person is a treasure; every person counts. Every person has a specific place in the body (1 Corinthians 12:18).
Every place in the body is vital to the functioning of the body and every joint supplies (Ephesians 4:16). The truth of how important each one, each part, is to the move of God is clearly seen in the account of our waiters in Acts 6:1–7. Let’s take a look at how God affirms that your ministry matters in this example of our seven waiters. We’ll look at it verse by verse.
“Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a murmuring against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution” (Acts 6:1).
This was a church on the move and growing. A growing church is subject to growing pains. What started out with Peter’s message on Pentecost had mushroomed into a church of people with needs. Their needs included everything from discipleship for new believers to meeting the needs of the poor, as in this example. I’m sure Peter and the other leaders were giving all they had to establish this growing body of believers. But, as typically happens when either leaders try to do it all themselves or each and every member isn’t in place and in motion, needs go unmet and people fall through the cracks. (We’ll deal with both of these later.) In this case, some folks were starting to complain and it was beginning to get personal. The Hellenists were murmuring because “their widows” were overlooked. Danger. “Their widows” tell me factions are happening. This thing was beginning to splinter and come apart. I’m obviously missing something here, but the crisis that seemed to threaten the existence of this new church doesn’t seem to be much of a crisis to me. The problem was that some older ladies weren’t getting fed. I’m not saying they weren’t important, and I’m sure to them, especially for them, this was a problem, but it doesn’t seem like enough of a problem that it could impede the moving of God in harvest or revival. Look closely at the example the Lord gives us here. It wasn’t prayerlessness, lack of worship, immorality, or lack of sound preaching that was stifling revival. It’s not that an old lady not getting enough to eat isn’t important, but important enough to hamper harvest?
Is It Really About the Task at Hand?
The widows not being fed wasn’t really the issue, it was an alarm going off that each part of the body of Christ wasn’t engaged in doing its part. Look around you in your fellowship. What alarms are going off all around you? Can you hear the alarm of the church lawn not being mowed, the sanctuary littered with sheep droppings, nurseries not staffed, children’s ministries without workers, or a host of other parts or opportunities set into the body to be used of God in the local church left undone? Do these seemingly insignificant parts or alarms really matter? The issue was, and is, that God sets every member in the body where He wills (1 Corinthians 12:18), and He expects every joint to supply (Ephesians 4:16). In the natural or physical realm, we say a person whose body parts do not all work is handicapped. Can you imagine a runner trying to run a race without knees? He could run, but it wouldn’t be pretty! What if there was nothing wrong with those knees? What if the problem was the knees didn’t think they’d be missed or that they weren’t important? What if those knees didn’t know or understand their role? What if they just refused to participate? In any case, we’d look with pity on such a person.
For this fledgling ministry and newly launched body of Christ, the real issue wasn’t the unfed widows. It was the body not functioning as it was created. How was the Lord to be glorified if what He created wasn’t functioning as he designed it? What if the designer of the screwdriver saw it being used to pound in a nail? What would the engineer of the bicycle think if he saw the rider struggling to move ahead on a bike missing a pedal? You may gain some ground getting the nail in or get a little ways down the road on your bike with missing parts, but in neither case will you reach your potential.
Every Part Is Needful
For the Lord’s body on earth to work properly, and for God to get the glory He deserves, the church must function using all its parts and by God’s design. The strength of the church isn’t in the excellence and education of the leadership or in the superiority of the programs and preaching. What holds the church together and is its strength is every part in its place doing what it is set in place to do. Its strength and fullness is found in what every joint supplies (Ephesians 4:16). Unlike many leaders today, those in Acts 6 understood this truth.
“Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables” (Acts 6:2).
These leaders walked in an understanding of their role as parts of the body that today are often overlooked. Yes, pastors and leaders have a part to play, but they’re not the whole part. Just like the mouth or eyes are individual parts of the body but don’t constitute the whole body, so are leaders in the body of Christ. The mouth and eyes are dependent upon the entire body, likewise the pastor and other leaders are dependent upon each and every part of the Lord’s body, the church. No part is designed to function autonomously. Each part is made to need the others and support the others. Proof that this is not understood in much of the Lord’s church today is easily found in the high rate of burnout and attrition among pastors today.
According to a well known minister, for every ten people going into pastoral ministry today, only one will still be standing at age sixty-five. I understand that as many as one thousand to fifteen hundred pastors leave the pulpit every month, and that’s only in North America! The problem of pastors and leaders trying to do it all isn’t new or unique to the modern church. It is easily found in the Old Testament book of Exodus.