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And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples… ~ Acts 6:2a (ESV)

READING: Romans 12:3-8

My friend Tim worked as a computer repairman. People would come to his shop, plunk their laptop down on the sales counter, and start complaining. He learned to walk around the counter to stand with the customer. “Let’s see what we can do to fix this,” he would say. In a gentle way he demonstrated that he and the customer were on the same side; both wanted a solution to the same problem.

The apostles in Acts 6 handled the church’s first crisis in much the same way. A dispute had erupted over a church program – feeding widows. But the Greek-speaking women were being neglected, and a rift in the church was in danger of developing.

The apostles were wise and spiritual men. Following their principles will help us handle the administrative details of our church plants with compassion and skill. Administration isn’t so much about policies and procedures as about taking care of people. As we pointed out yesterday, they first listened and acknowledged the problem.

Here’s the second principle: they helped everyone “own” the problem. By bringing everyone together, the congregation knew nobody was trying to hide the conflict and that no ethnic slur was intended. Instead of dividing the church, the crisis actually helped unite it. Of course we can’t call congregational meetings for every problem. But with a wide-spread and potentially volatile issue, full- disclosure is needed.

The apostles didn’t allow the crisis to separate them from the people who were hurting. They “stood on the same side of the counter.” Though church planters are usually strong leaders, we must also have a humble heart and a gentle spirit.

Lord, Show me how to “stand on the same side” with people who are hurting, and to seek Your solution for every problem. Amen.

Jim Carpenter