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Weekly Lift

#105. Stepping up

Bruce Stanley

June 6, 2022

Stepping up

Last Sunday I had lunch with the Ermington ministry team. Over the past year, a lot of people have stepped up to serve at Ermington - on Sundays, during the week, running church services, music, children's programs, morning teas, Bible studies, lawn mowing, maintenance, site improvements, renovations, cleaning... there's a whole lot that happens all through the week in a church of any size.

It was exciting to look around the table at lunch that day and see over 20 people personally involved in this ministry. There are now two services on a Sunday morning up and running, and we regularly have visitors. St Mark's is just about the only English speaking evangelical church in the whole area, and the population is about to explode from around 20,000 to over 50,000 in the next 20 years. I'll be excited to sit with our Ermington team again in a year and look at the ever-growing team of servants in this ministry.

In the story of Acts, as the Christian Church grows in its early stages of life, what we see is people stepping up to serve to meet the needs of God's Church - and the needs of his people.

Acts 6:1-7

1In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2So 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. 3Brothers and sisters, 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 4and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”5This 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. 6They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.7So 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 was growing and people were complaining because some people were not being looked after well. This was an important matter to address. Today, we call this "pastoral care". And as a church grows, we see these pastoral needs increase. And how did the early church meet this need?

Acts 6:3

3Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.

Full of the Spirit and wisdom. This is who they look for. The right people. Not just anyone. But the right people. It is important to have three things when we see a need in our church:

- we need to find the right people for each ministry's needs. Faithful people.

- we need those people to step up and serve. Available people.

- and we need people who are willing to learn in that role. Teachable.

Whether this is a pastoral role, or a teaching role, or a technical role on a Sunday, or a morning tea/supper role, we need people who are faithful, available and teachable.

I want to encourage all of us to consider being that person in some way. As most of our in-person ministries start up again, we do see increasing needs for many areas of serving in God's church. This is the case everywhere. in our churches, in our workplaces, in our schools, and in our homes - more than ever we need people willing to serve others. With 2 years of "on-again, off-again", and continuing sicknesses everywhere, as well as a growing weariness from the pandemic, everything has been cut back.

But now the needs in our churches and in our communities are growing and the opportunities are more than ever.

We need God's people serving in children's ministries, we need people serving on Sundays in many areas, we need people on clean up days, and we need people serving in pastoral ways. But we also need people to step up at work, at school, at home - to serve with love and compassion, sacrificially.

In your workplace, can you be the one to empty the bin when no one else will? At your school or university, can you be the one to volunteer to help students who are in need? At home, can you be the one to make dinner when everyone else is too tired?

If you are faithful, available and teachable, please think about if you are ready to step up to serve in some small or large way. Talk to your pastor today. I'm sure they would be keen to talk with you and pray with you about the opportunities ahead.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you that you sent Jesus, our servant King, to show his rule as a servant King, by laying down his life for us. May we take hold of this truth today as we consider the needs of your church across our world. Not just here in Eastwood and Ermington, but throughout the world, on the mission field, and in our workplaces, our schools and our homes. Help us to consider how we might be able to serve others in the name of Jesus.

Amen.

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