by Duane Maust
February 5, 2006
Acts 6: 1-7
Last Sunday we started a series about small groups. You will hear us calling them care groups. I think care groups better describes what it is about. The elders and pastors are considering starting new groups and doing our groups with more intention. Care groups would be a place of receiving more support than we currently provide in our small groups. We want everyone to think about this and see if this is something that we should do. Maybe God is calling you to be a Care Group leader.
To do care groups, we need leaders for those groups.
I want us to think about calling leaders today. To get the care groups to work, we will need trained leaders. When I thought about doing a sermon on calling leaders, I see we are all leaders of some sort. I trust you will apply it to your life how you sense God calling you. If you are a mother with small children, you are a leader to them. If you are an employer, you lead your employees. If you are a schoolteacher, you are a leader in your classroom.
Yes, we will need leaders for these care groups if we go this direction. We need help shepherding the people here at Jubilee. That is why I wanted Acts 6 read today. The church in Acts had things that were not getting done in the church. They had a lot of new people coming to the church and their leaders were not meeting all their needs.
The 12 apostles were spending too much time on problems of who got fed, how much, and when. There were needs being overlooked in their churches. They needed to be freed up to give themselves more to other duties in the church, like praying and ministry needs. They were probably on the edge of being burned out.
The new church was learning that the lay people in their churches had gifts to offer. They realized that by appointing this group of men they were freeing the disciples up so they could focus on the primary responsibilities of their ministry. By working with care group leaders we are seeing that needs could be better meet here at Jubilee.
We are all called to be ministers or servants for kingdom building. Matthew 28: 19-20 doesn’t say “go and baptize if you feel like it.”
Read Acts 6:3
They chose men to help in the church. They were elected as deacons. All seven have Greek names, suggesting that they were all Hellenistic Jews from various parts of the empire. This was a group of Jews that spoke Greek. Very likely they were from a broad region. They were not hometown Jews.
Yes, it was all men they picked. Can God use women too? There are other places women were used in the church. Lydia was leading a church. Paul called Phoebe to be a deaconess in Romans 16:1. And Aquila and Priscilla were a pastoring couple in the early church. I feel that there is a place for women to be called to service in the church. I don’t think God only gives gifts of leadership to men. God gives us all gifts to be used in kingdom building.
What kind of gifts are we looking for in these leaders?
Read 1 Timothy 3:1-7
In the book Called to Equip by Palmer Becker, he summarizes the qualities into 5 points.
- 1. Hospitable – Christian leaders are warm and friendly. They are known for their love. John 13:542. Respected – they are people of integrity. They are committed to God and trusted by family and friends. 1 Tim. 3:17
3. Sensitive – they actively listen and have good relational skills. They are gifted with the spirit and more concerned about others than themselves.
4. Motivated – they are enthused about their faith, group, and church. They communicate enthusiasm to others. 1 Peter 5:1-7
5. Grounded – they know scripture and are firmly committed to Christ and the church. Acts 20:27-32
This list makes you probably wonder who could every meet the standard of a leader. God does work with imperfect people. God can use a little boy from South Bay Port Road in rural Michigan to build his kingdom. I am not perfect. But God is working with him.
Leadership is essential. Without adequate leadership, a Care Group is doomed. We will plan to do training for the leaders. What our goal would be is to meet monthly with the leaders.
We are told by Jesus not only to make disciples but also to teach them. Leadership is learned.
That is why Elaine and I are always interested in our pastor apprentice plan to train new pastors. That is why Jeff and Cheryl have their Leadership in Training program at Pine Lake for the youth of our conference. Developing leaders is important. We need to be working out of our job as pastors.
Servant leaders are a key to a healthy group and congregation. It is not about being the top dog. It is about having a love for the people in your group. You really care about their success in life. Success in their family, work place, and their relationship to God will be a first concern. We will want to help potential leaders learn three basic skills. These skills will make a major difference in the success a care group. We will want to challenge them with the following:
1. The skill of active listening. Good listening tells your group members that you care about them and you care about what is happening in their lives. Attentive listening will also have benefits for you. If you want to be liked by your group, listen actively! If you want to become wise, listen carefully to their wisdom! If you want to be effective, listen attentively to their needs! Try to learn everything you can about each of your group members.
2. The skill of asking questions. Your goal is good dialogue, not a good lecture. Never give information that the group member can discover through asking good questions. Good sharing questions help members discover the truth of a Scripture or topic. Questions need to be open-ended. This means a simple yes or no cannot answer them. Questions from the group should usually be redirected back to the group for exploration or a response.
3. The skill of dialogue. Preaching and teaching have been the dominant forms of communication in the church. Care Groups will seek to balance these forms of monologue by emphasizing dialogue. Good dialogue begins with good listening. In good dialogue, conversation moves back and forth between participants.
We are all leaders of some sort. What is God calling you to? We all need to be caring people. What is God wanting from you?