Why Church Matters (Part 1)
Because We Need Each Other
Recorded in the book of Acts (Ch. 6) is an account of how a group of men were chosen among the early believers to take on the responsibility of serving others in the church, primarily the widows. That original 7 men, chosen from the church congregation, were given the title of deacon. The English word “deacon” is derived from the Greek word diakonos, which means “servant” or “minister.” Ultimately, the responsibility of a deacon within the church is to serve where service is needed. In the context of Acts 6, the deacons were selected to focus on serving the widows of the congregation, who needed food but did not have means to obtain what they required for themselves and their families. The pastors, or elders of the congregation were the Apostles, who had the primary role of preaching, teaching, and prayer, so that the gospel might be proclaimed and lives would be changed. But the apostles also had the task of caring for the widows as well as the daily “administration” of this new body of believers.
Keep in mind that Peter, John, and the other apostles were leaders of the very 1st Christian church in history, and they were, in a way, forced to employ the “learn as we go” strategy. What they learned very early on was that they would not be able to serve all those who had physical needs as well as preach and teach the Word of God. So they gathered together to designate a specific group of faithful men, of good reputation and filled with the Spirit (Acts 6:3) to serve the widows and the congregation. It was an office of honor among the church members; not because of who the men were, but because of the task they were given and the great responsibility they had to care for the needs of God’s people.
The context in which we live today is no different than the time of the early Christian church. There are so many people in our cities, and our churches, who have needs which God has given us to meet. And the group of men at First Baptist Church who have been given that privilege, like the early church servants in Acts 6, are called deacons. And as the pastor of FBC, I want you to know just how grateful I am to have such an incredible group of men to serve alongside who I can depend on and call on anytime.
In the wake of Hurricane Isaac, where so much wind and rain threatened our homes and our lives, we have seen first-hand evidence of this compassionate and caring service on the part of our deacons. From the time we found out the storm was headed toward Baton Rouge, our deacons were actively and consistently checking in on our church members and meeting any needs they had before, during and after this terrible storm. First and foremost, all praise goes to God for sparing us from any major catastrophes. In times like these, we recognize His deep mercies and his abounding grace are at work in the lives of his people (Isaiah 33:2). But it should come as no surprise that God uses faithful men of good reputation and filled with His Spirit, to extend his grace to hurting people. God uses his servants to bless the lives of others. That is the way it is supposed to be and that is what we as a church body will seek to do.
We live in a day when so many lament the problems of the church, saying they have no need for the church because it’s filled with judgmental hypocrites. While that is partially true (yes, churches have hypocrites)I wouldn’t say that every church is “filled” with so many wretched people as to make it so undesirable. And to imply that the church is unnecessary is simply ignorant. We need other people and we need each other. All Christians are called to serve others. But there are also times when we need others to serve us. And this is why the church, more so than in any other organization, rises to the occasion when there are such great needs. Here is the reality: while every church has hypocrites, it is also filled with Christ-honoring, compassionate, selfless, and loving servants who want to help others simply because they care for them and desire to help them in the name of Jesus Christ.
I can’t speak for all other churches, but I can speak for mine: We have a great group of servants who seek to meet the needs of our congregation in a way that is selfless and sacrificial. I love those men and I am proud to be their pastor. And when the next storm arises and threatens our homes and our families, causing great needs to arise within the church body and in the community, I know we have a force of men ready and willing to serve, because that is what deacons do.
We all need other people at times. That is why the church matters.