Acts 6

Acts chapter six outlines the beauty and complexity of the church body, and, in a way, sets the tone for Paul to speak of the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12:12, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” 

Although we find the disciples increasing in number, complaints begin to arise that the widows are not being cared for and given their share of the food that is distributed every day.

In reading this chapter, I can’t help but think of our own churches. Christianity has a knack for putting together some wild acronyms. One acronym common among pastors and church administration is “ABC” which stands for “Attendance, Baptisms, Cash,” and is the measure of “success” for a church. In simple terms, are you growing? Are your parking lots and bank accounts full? According to the ABC metric, the early church was doing quite well, specifically surrounding personnel. Although the metaphorical pews were full, duties were slipping through the cracks.

This brings us to another fun acronym, “TMI.” Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “What does ‘too much information’ have to do with this?” Sorry, friends, in the church world, “TMI” stands for “Total Member Involvement.” You see, it’s one thing to have a full church, but it’s another thing to have each person actively involved in moving forward the mission and vision. This is where we find the followers of Jesus in Acts, Chapter 6. Plenty of people available.
The twelve apostles called together their community to find the right people for the task at hand, explaining that it wouldn’t be right for an apostle to put their work of ‘teaching God’s word’ on pause to instead do the task of distributing food. I’ll be honest with you, on my first pass through that verse, I scowled. Do they think they’re too good to get their hands dirty and do the work? But then I read on. When the seven individuals were chosen to do this work, there was a certain criterion to be met. These food distributors must be full of wisdom and the Spirit. Once selected, the twelve apostles laid hands on them and prayed for them. This was sacred work.  

Growing up in the Christian faith, my understanding was very limited in what consisted of sacred work. This perception of ministry remained clouded for many years, even as I pursued a degree in theology. Doing "God’s work" seemed to consist of public speaking and leading a spot-on Bible study. It looked quite a bit like what the twelve apostles were doing.

But what about feeding the community?

I’ve found a love for the ministry of food. There is something so nurturing and spiritual about providing not only sustenance, but an enjoyable meal for someone. Food creates a common ground for open conversation.

Distributing food is a sacred calling, which the apostles understood as they appointed seven good people full of wisdom and the Spirit. Out of the seven, Stephen is noted specifically as a man with great faith and full of the Spirit. As he went about his calling, God gave him the power to do great miracles and speak in sound wisdom.

Whether it is preaching God’s word, distributing food, or something else, I challenge you to find your sacred calling. Maybe you already know exactly what it is, but have not felt affirmed. In this moment, may you feel a similar experience to those chosen as the twelve apostles laid hands on them, praying over their unique calling.

By Jessyka Dooley

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