If you have been reading the previous two posts, I Peter 5 and Ephesians 4 must connect to Acts 6. This third passage tells you what is in your tool-box to accomplish what you are called to do. Acts 6:1-7 is instructive for spiritual leaders in the church.
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
The way leaders shepherd and equip the flock is by using Scripture and prayer. That is why elders must be able to teach (I Timothy 3:2). This teaching is marked by a skilled and redemptive handling of the Word of God that brings people face to face with Christ. Since all of Scripture points to Christ, our use of Scripture must connect people and their problems to Christ.
This ministry of Word and prayer, according to Acts 20:20, includes both public ministry of the Word (preaching/teaching) and interpersonal ministry of the Word (one on one conversations). Paul taught in the synagogues and went from house to house. You must have both. One without the other is incomplete.
Some leaders are better at preaching and some are better at one on one conversations but both must be present in order to be an elder. This involves more than knowing doctrine and protecting against heresy at purely a theological level. As important as that is, it also includes speaking redemptively to the issues the sheep face daily; struggles with besetting sins, parenting, marriage, suffering and trials to name a few.
Finally, it involves prayer. Prayer fuels a dependence upon God and recognition that this is a spiritual exercise not merely passing along information. Prayer reveals that we are relying on a Person for people. We rely upon the Great Shepherd for the sheep.
Copyright © 2013 Tim Lane. All rights reserved.
Note: For an excellent resource on using Scripture for interpersonal ministry, you would be wise to read CrossTalk: Where Life and Scripture Meet, by Dr. Mike Emlet.