How many of you are familiar with these names: Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas.
As I started Cool Solutions Group, I was sharing my desire to assist church staff, leaders and volunteers commit their time to focus on people, ministry and their passions. I shared how I wanted to free up pastors and church staff to do the things that only they can do…minister to their church. During one of these discussions, Frank Norwood, Business Administrator at First Baptist Church, Matthews, NC (who we are currently leading a renovation project for) pulled out his Bible and read the following:
1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.
2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.
3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them
4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.
6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
He then shared a story about a conversation he had with their pastor when he was new to the church. He asked the pastor what he felt his calling was and and his passion for serving the church. The pastor indicated that he wanted to preach, teach, shepherd and lead the people of this church…his flock. In his wisdom, Frank told the pastor to write these items down on a 3×5 card (this was before Evernote and Moleskins) and to never deviate from them. That was great advice.
He went on to share that he sees his role, as business administrator, to enable the pastor to not have to worry about the day to day business associated with running a large church…to free up the pastor to fulfill his passion and goals. Now, that sounds like a servants heart…and it is exactly what was happening in Acts. The Apostles could no longer address the granular issues of running the “church”. It had grown to a level that they could no longer be the “go to” guys for every detail. They needed to entrust some of these duties to other capable people. The Apostles realized that they were the only ones qualified…and called…to give “attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” This function within the church had to be theirs…no one else. So, the formation of a supporting cast was birthed. Each a qualified part of the body using the gifts God had entrusted to them to further the development of the church and to free up those called to preach, teach and shepherd their flock.
And what was the result? Re-read verse 7: “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” The church grew…people accepted Christ as their Savior and people became disciples. The church did not suffer because it delegated or “outsourced” certain functions…it THRIVED!
For those of us/you that serve the church, either as a support staff within the church or as an outsource partner such as our firm, we have been called to a very special part in the Body of Christ. We are called to use OUR gifts, skills, expertise and experience to allow those called to preach and teach to fulfill their vision and calling.