Acts 6:1-7
I Thessalonians 5:12-13

Reader’s Digest Life in These United States: A week after a father applied to enroll his son in a private school, he received a questionnaire. One of the questions was: “Is your son a leader or a follower?” He thought about it and then indicated his son was a follower. A couple weeks later, he was informed his son was one of 200 students accepted. The letter also said, “You may be interested to know that of the 200 accepted 199 were marked as leaders and only 1 follower.”

What is that old saying? Too many chiefs and not enough Indians?

Every organization has to have leaders who will initially define what that organization is about, how it is going to function effectively by encouraging participation by the people of that organization and then monitor it to make sure that it does.

That applies to the largest of organizations; take the good old USA, for example, which was organized by our Founding Fathers, who took the responsibility for drawing up principles set forth in the Constitution that would govern these United States of America.

Manufacturers and businesses have CEO’s/CFO’s/managers, etc. who are responsible to create, implement and monitor policies and procedures that will enable that business to function profitably and effectively.

What’s good for countries and manufacturers and retail businesses is also good for the church. Every church must designate leaders who are responsible for creating and then implementing policies and procedures that will enable that church to function effectively.

That’s exactly what Luke is describing in Acts 6. The early church was growing in numbers, quite dramatically. The 12 Apostles were up to their ears with too many responsibilities so they made a wise decision to recruit other folks who would help them out so that they could focus on what they felt they were gifted and called by God to accomplish. It is probably true that Numbers 11 had some influence over their decision. In that chapter, Moses is the overwhelmed leader who takes the advice of his father-in-law, Jethro, to recruit others to give him a hand.

As it was with Moses before them and then the Apostles in the early church, so it is now.

We’re not talking rocket science here, but I want to remind you that it is vitally important to the life, health and effective functioning of any church to recognize and call leaders who make decisions, provide oversight and encourage participation by all of its members.

When CrossPointe launched, its founding leaders chose as one of our values: “We value a church structure that recognizes that God calls leaders to make decisions on behalf of the body of Christ.”

They derived that value from here in Acts 6, from Acts 15, where the leaders of the early church make a decision for the entire church to include Gentiles in the Church, and from various letters of the Apostle Paul like Thessalonians where he calls those who are not in leadership to ‘honor,’ ‘respect,’ ‘love’ and follow those who are.

We have two branches of leadership in this church. We have a group of Trustees, who have oversight of the building and grounds. We also have a Leadership Team who, together with the church staff, are responsible for overseeing the entire mission and ministry of the church.

We not only honor and respect our leaders, we also trust our leaders to use the best wisdom God gave them to make decisions that reflect what’s best for the entire ministry; and not what’s best for any individual or groups of people.

I think it is important for us to not only recognize our leaders from time to time, but to also pray for them, as did the Apostles when they seta apart and prayed for the first deacons in Acts 6.

In our document titled Marks of a Mature Member, the 2nd paragraph states: “I am a church member. I will pray for our church’s pastor, other leaders and our ministry. Because our leaders cannot serve our church in their own power, I will pray for God’s strength and wisdom for them every day.”

With that in mind, let’s pray for these leaders.

However; all of this is not to say that those who are not leaders are, by any means, second class citizens.

To the contrary, every person who has been adopted into the church as a result of faith in the gracious acts of Jesus the Christ on our behalf have an important role to play.

From our Core Beliefs that we looked at two weeks ago: “We believe that all Christians are called by God to be involved in some sort of ministry that is suitable to them. We believe that the Holy Spirit has gifted each Christian with one or more spiritual gifts (teaching, serving, leadership, preaching, etc.) that indicate where and how a person should minister.”

And from our Core Values that we looked at last week: “We value the truth that all Christians are called by God to play a role in building up the body of Christ. We value the people of God giving their best to the kingdom of God.”

We are talking about the Bible truth that for any church to hit on all eight cylinders all the people in that church need to be participating in the ministry of the church in ways that are appropriate to the gifts and graces of each person. As each person contributes his or her part, God is glorified and the church is built up.

Paul tells us in his first letter to the Corinthians:

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you. . . . All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. (12:12-21,27).

How ingenious of Paul to liken the Church to a body. I don’t know about you, but no part of my body is part-time. Check that, every once in-a-while I have a slight hitch in my giddy-up and go. And I suppose if the truth were known, I have a few hair follicles that have been laying down on the job (well maybe more than a few).

Speaking of laying down on the job, I know that there are some of you here today who may be feeling that you aren’t pulling your weight and the reason is because you don’t think you are worthy to participate in the Lord’s ministry. You have done something in the past that feels that has disqualified you from serving in the present. I understand.

In our Disciple Bible Study Class Thursday someone asked why Peter got to give the very first sermon preached by the infant church on the Day of Pentecost. After all, just a few weeks before, didn’t Peter deny with loud cursing that he even knew Jesus?

Yes, Peter had flaws; as did Moses (murderer), David (adulterer), Thomas (doubter), and Saul (who was the early church’s greatest persecutor who after meeting Christ became her greatest missionary). Every one of them and, truth be told, every one of us; broken in some way.

I saw a wonderful illustration of this the other day. On December 4, 2017, 400 musicians gathered in the 23rd Street Armory of Philadelphia to perform Symphony for a Broken Orchestra. The orchestra included amateurs and professionals; the youngest was a nine-year-old cellist; the oldest, an 82-year-old oboist. It was the most diverse orchestra in America.

It was called the Broken Orchestra because they were attempting to play a symphony with 400 brought broken instruments: a trumpet held together with blue painter’s tape, a violin with no A string, a bow that had lost most of its hair, a cello carried in multiple pieces. They were calling attention to the fact that the government had cut funding and many school instruments had fallen into disrepair.

But Composer and Director David Lang made something beautiful of them. As the musical piece opened many of the instruments were silent, but gradually they found their voices. While a trumpet might not be capable of a sound, the keys could tap a rhythm; the scraping of a bow over a broken violin body added an unusual element. At one point, a cellist made noise by simply turning a string-less peg.

As the 40-minute symphony progressed, the instruments roared to life. Some musicians struggled, like a clarinetist who could get out only short spurts and a French horn player who kept losing his mouthpiece. But when they got it together, the orchestra produced rich harmony. The music was playful and joyous!

As the performance wound down each section bowed out one-by-one, until all that remained was the humble squeal of a broken clarinet.

In the church, each one of us, a broken instrument, add our own voice to the symphony composed and directed by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The best that some of us can do is simply tap or squeak, but when we give what we can the orchestra here at CrossPointe produces a joyful song of praise to the One who makes us whole.

All it takes is for each one of us to offer ourselves to Him.

Yesterday, I was over at Larry and Marla Wilson’s home and hanging above their fireplace is a wonderful picture of Jesus. I said, “Larry I’m impressed you have that large portrait of Jesus hanging up there.”
Larry said, “Why wouldn’t I? He’s the One who accepts me as I am.”

“We stand before You Lord, and give You all our praise,
Your love is all we need, Jesus You’re all we need.
Our lives belong to You, You gave Your life for us,
Your grace is all we need, Jesus, You’re all we need.”