Seven points of organization: Acts 6
I thought I would share a few thoughts that I had to turn in for class. We were looking at Acts 6 and considering what ideas we could draw about church organization from that chapter. You’ll need to look up Acts 6:1-7 to get the full context. Here’s what I came up with:
First, the church leadership was listening to the feedback from the organization as a whole. While there is no textual evidence of a formal feedback structure, it is evident that the Apostles were aware of the complaint. This is a positive organizational practice: communication between all parts of the organization.
Second, even as the disciples were increasing (v. 1), the organization of the church still broke down tasks that needed done. This is seen by the statement that there was a daily distribution to widows, but the Apostles are not involved personally at the outset. It is a task being handled by others, even though it is not being handled perfectly.
Third, facing the problem, church leadership still presented the problem to the body as a whole. They did not, however, farm the idea out for someone else to solve. Instead, the Apostles had gathered, one can assumed had prayed, and then presented their recommended solution to the body. The body then assented and participated in selecting the individuals to correct the problem.
This process of leadership deserves extra consideration. A small organization, one made up of eleven to twelve members like the Apostles, can consider nearly all issues together. While the process at this stage is a little cumbersome, like jury duty, it is still feasible. However, as the body grows, this process becomes impossible. The 120 believers of Acts 2 become the 5000+ of Acts 2, and the body continues to grow.
Therefore, leadership must adjust the methods of problem-solving. The Apostles take on themselves the responsibility of problem-solving, though they do not impose the solution on the church. The church is presented with the solution and agrees to the idea.
This carries into the practice of an organization with leaders. While the ideas can come from anywhere in the organization, the leadership has the purpose of considering all possible ideas and presenting the best one to the group for consideration. This allows a responsive organization that does not spend excessive time in deliberation.
Fourth, the Apostles present the solution to the organization, but then crowdsource the details. Rather than assuming that the leadership, twelve, knows the best choices out of over 5000, the Apostles allow the crowd to choose from those who meet specific guidelines.
Fifth, the organizational guidelines for service are based in character more than competence. The distribution of food to widows was not a highly technical skill like metalworking or scribal work would have been. There was no need to specify the food weighing skills for these seven men, only to specify their character.
Sixth, the seven appointees are not the only ones with a hand in the work appointed. Note verse 3 states that they are “in charge” of the task, but this does not exclude the recruitment of others to aid in serving. In all likelihood, if the task is this large, the seven will have many in assistance. Their role is to ensure proper balance and distribution.
Seventh, this method allowed individuals to continue in their best fit responsibilities. The Apostles, eyewitnesses of Christ, were freed from responsibilities that others could fulfill. This allowed them to focus on doing what they were the only ones capable of doing: testifying to the entire life and ministry of Jesus.