Home
Campus:

Calvary Albuquerque

Plan a Visit

Location: map

4001 Osuna Road NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109
Contact Us: 505.344.0880

Service Times: today's schedule

Saturday: 6:30 pm
Sunday: 8:00, 9:45 & 11:30 am
Wednesday: 6:30 pm

Service Archives > Church? Who Needs It > The Deacon-Possessed Church

Message:

BUY: Buy CD
Player will resume where you were momentarily. Please wait...

Cancel
Loading player...
Enter your Email Address:

or cancel

The Deacon-Possessed Church
Acts 6:1-15;Acts 20:1-36
Skip Heitzig

Acts 6 (NKJV™)
1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.
2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.
3 "Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;
4 "but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch,
6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.
7 Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.
9 Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen.
10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.
11 Then they secretly induced men to say, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God."
12 And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council.
13 They also set up false witnesses who said, "This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law;
14 "for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us."
15 And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.
Acts 20 (NKJV™)
1 After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia.
2 Now when he had gone over that region and encouraged them with many words, he came to Greece
3 and stayed three months. And when the Jews plotted against him as he was about to sail to Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia.
4 And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia--also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia.
5 These men, going ahead, waited for us at Troas.
6 But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days.
7 Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.
8 There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together.
9 And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead.
10 But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, "Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him."
11 Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed.
12 And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted.
13 Then we went ahead to the ship and sailed to Assos, there intending to take Paul on board; for so he had given orders, intending himself to go on foot.
14 And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene.
15 We sailed from there, and the next day came opposite Chios. The following day we arrived at Samos and stayed at Trogyllium. The next day we came to Miletus.
16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.
17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.
18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: "You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you,
19 "serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews;
20 "how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house,
21 "testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
22 "And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there,
23 "except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.
24 "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
25 "And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more.
26 "Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.
27 "For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.
28 "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
29 "For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.
30 "Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
31 "Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
32 "So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
33 "I have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel.
34 "Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me.
35 "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
36 And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Previous | Next Cookies must be enabled to support these options.
Church? Who Needs It

Yes, this message's title is a play on the words demon-possessed. Deacons were among the church's earliest leaders and so were elders. Leadership is needed in every sphere of life from governing a nation, managing a business, growing a marriage, and superintending a church. Jesus called the church His church, so no single person or denomination can lay claim to it. But how is the church to operate as an organization? And how is it that some deacons and elders stop being helpful and humble and become downright hurtful?

The Church. Who really needs to be a part of it? Why should we belong to something so archaic and so narrow? The culture around us seems to ask this question relentlessly, but what is the answer? Pastor Skip Heitzig presents a series of reasons why the church, as Christ established it, is so vitally important to the Christian walk. From God's original intent for His church, to the ways in which He uses us today, and the reasons why people attend and leave the church, this series emphasizes the importance of the Church and the need to revere it as divinely established.


FREE - Download Entire Series (MP3) (Help) | Buy series

Detailed Notes

    Open as Word Doc Open as Word Doc    Copy Copy to Clipboard    Print icon    Show expand

I. Servants Should be Helpful (Acts 6:1-8)



II. Servants Can be Hurtful (Acts 20:29-31)



III. Servants Must be Humble (Acts 20:28)




Questions for Home Groups:

  1. Look at the qualifications for servant leaders (deacons) in Acts 6:3. How important are they and why are these qualities listed? Are there other qualities needed in your opinion?

  2. Note the difference between "wolves" coming into the church from the outside and those who rise up "from among yourselves" coming from the inside. Have you ever seen either of these? How was it handled?

  3. Describe your own accountability? Is it sufficient? Do you feel safe?

Transcript

Open as Word Doc Open as Word Doc    Copy Copy to Clipboard    Print icon    Show expand

There were four church leaders from the same town and they were all at a conference together. And it was a time of just having coffee and sharing some intimate things about the ministry. And they decided to talk about their own personal failures. And so one of the pastors got really honest and he said, "I'll tell you what my vice is: I hit the bottle from time to time. I know I shouldn't do it, I know my congregation would not approve, I preach against it but every now and then I can't help myself and I have a drink or two." Well, the second guy spoke up and he said, "Okay, it's my turn, I'll confess, I have a gambling problem. Whenever I leave town I lose a lot of money. It's something I know I shouldn't do and my congregation wouldn't approve of but I do it." The third guy said, "You know I've never had either of those problems but I've had a problem cheating on my income tax. Every year I get a little extra income on the side that I don't report and I need the money and I don't want to pay taxes on it. I do it regularly, I know I shouldn't do it but I cheat on my income tax every year." Well this fourth guy was just listening. And finally he spoke up and he said, "Well first of all I want to thank all three of you guys for being so honest. And I want to tell you I don't have a problem drinking. I don't have a problem gambling. And I don't have a problem cheating on my income tax. But I do have one serious vice: I love to gossip. And I can't wait til I leave here and tell someone else about you three guys." Uh-oh, so much for being honest.

There are no perfect leaders just as there are no perfect churches. And you've heard that old line, "If you ever find a perfect church, don't join it because you'll ruin it." There's no such thing. And I also know that people will leave churches for a number of reasons. Some of them are even for leadership abuse. But I also know that pastors leave churches because of problems that are in that church. I read that sixteen hundred ministers every month leave the ministry. That's enormous. For a number of reasons: personal failure, moral failure, or burnout, and a lot of reasons in between. In a poll taken of pastors, eighty-five percent said the greatest problem they said is they are sick and tired of dealing with problem people, disgruntled elders, deacons, worship leaders, board members, and assistant pastors. They were just being real honest. They said, "I'm done. I've had enough." In fact, one leader said, "The trouble with being a leader is you can't be sure whether people are following you or chasing you."

Well, the title of this is "The Deacon-Possessed Church." I've never given a message like this. I thought about it and it's a title I borrowed from a friend of mine. We were having a conversation years ago and he was talking about a fellowship that he had been involved in and leadership quarrels and leadership problems and we were discussing about demon possession in the New Testament. And he said, "Well I'll tell you about my church, it's a deacon-possessed church." So it's a play on words of a common New Testament problem and that is demon possession.

Now I'll explain deacon possession as we go through this but basically any person: pastor, elder, board member, volunteer, home leader, usher, can take the energy and focus off of what God wants and put it on himself or themselves and create dissension and division and it become very damaging. And history is littered with that kind of stuff. So how do we not do that? How do we form leadership that is both God-honoring and facilitates what God wants among his people? Well we just want to remind you that the church is the only organization that Jesus himself ever founded. Right? He said, "Upon this rock I will build my church." This is the only organization in the world Jesus said he would build himself. But as we discussed, the church is primarily and organism, it's a living organism. But as any organism grows it requires organization because an organism without organization is just a blob. And so that happens here in the book of Acts. The living organism begins to grow and needs follow that and so organization must be applied. But leaders must always remember to be servants. Because the kind of leader be it pastor, elder, deacon, whatever; that God really wants are servant leaders, because if those aren't present then people will actually be drawn away form church and drawn away from Christ. And perhaps one of the best examples of that is none other than Mark Twain who was raised with a godly mother and had even a believing wife. But he said that there were elders and deacons in his church that were hypocrites, they owned slaves, they abused slaves, they talked foul during the week, they were shady in their business. Pious on Sundays, shady the rest of th e week. And it so turned Mark Twain off that he became bitter to the things of God. And he himself asked this question: "Church: Who Needs It? I certainly don't," said Mark Twain.

So tonight what we're going to do is look at two passages of scripture, Acts 6 and Acts 20, we'll fast forward at the life of the early church. And we're going to look at three characteristics of these servants, these servant-leaders. And we're going to make some general statements about servant leadership. First of all, servants should be helpful. Number two, servants can be hurtful. And number three, servants must be humble.

Let's look at the first one, Acts chapter 6, let's just read through our verses together, verses 1 through 8, "Now in those days when the number of the disciples was multiplying (Notice that, the organism is growing) there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of ht e disciples and said, "it's not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom whom we appoint over this business. If we will give ourselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the word." And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, Phillip, Prochurus, Niconur, Timon, Harmonos, Nicolas a proselyte from Antioch; whom they set before the apostles. And when they had prayed they laid hands on them. Then the word of God spread and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem. And a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. And Stephen full of faith and power did great wonders and signs among the people."

Okay, there's an internal conflict going on in the church. There's a spiritual problem that is met by spiritual people who keep spiritual priorities. That's this section in a nutshell. One of the tasks of leadership is the ability to identify a problem before it becomes a catastrophic emergency. And the apostles here were able to do that. Now I believe one of the reasons Luke wrote this and why the Holy Spirit preserved this is to show us why a change in leadership was necessary in the early church as it began to grow. And we're just going to touch lightly on the problem. The problem started in the women's ministry there in Acts. It's just a matter of history. It started with two groups that were pitted one against the other. And I think you already know that one of the devil's most favorite and most predictable ways of attacking the church is through dissension. Dissension and that causes division. Somebody once said, "There's four main bones in every organization. Four main bones. Wishbones, jawbones, knuckle bones and backbones. Wishbones are the people that wish everybody else or somebody would fix this problem. Jawbones are people that talk about the problem but never doing anything about it. Knucklebones are those who knock everything around them. Backbones are people who carry the load and do the work. I think we see that here. The problem is that the Greek-speaking women feel neglected and feel that the Hebrew-speaking women are bing pandered to. Okay, a little historical background. The Hebrews here refer to those born in Israel, they spoke Aramaic, they spoke Hebrew and their Bible was The Bible, the Hebrew Bible. It would be tantamount to the group who says, "The King James only Bible." Whereas the Hellenists were the Greek-speakers, the read the Septuagint version, a little more modern translation. They spoke Greek and their culture was Greek and there was an ongoing struggle and animosity between these groups, even before there was a church. But in Judaism, they would meet in separate synagogues in Jerusalem. In the church, they would meet together. And now there's that rub and that longstanding animosity needs to be dealt with. You know what It's sort of like? I remember years ago a fellow in this church was a Viet Nam vet. And we had some Vietnamese believers in the church. And he had a hard time with them. And they had a hard time with him. Or if you went back years, during World War II when you'd have believers in the church who fought in World War II and there were German Christians in that church. There would be this animosity that had to be dealt with. And so, the Wishbones wished that the apostles would fix the problem and the Jawbones were talking about it all day long. And now they move in to fix the problem. A couple of things to notice for our purpose tonight: the word disciple appears in this chapter for the very first time in the book of Acts. It's mentioned twenty-eight times in the book of Acts but here it's mentioned for the first time. Also, the term apostle shows up. And here's what I want to show you. At it's very early nascient state, the church was comprised of disciples and apostles, followers and leaders. And leaders were the ones who were with Jesus, those were the apostles, they walked with him, they were with him for three and a half years. But now there needs to be a change. To the twelve apostles, seven more helpers are added. Seven helpers. And so they're going to, they're going to work in the Food Bank, here called the daily distribution. Why is this important? Because now the church can passionately preach the word but also compassionately care for people. There's a couple lessons so far that we learn. Lesson number one, everybody can't do everything. But everybody can do something. Everybody can't do everything but everybody can do something. And lesson number two, God calls and equips people to different tasks and He uses the leaders to facilitate that. We see that here.

Okay, I had you turn to chapter 6 for this reasons. This is where the concept deacon first started. It first begins here. Notice in chapter 2 the term serve tables. See the word serve? It's the word where we get the term deacon from, deakonin, serve. But these are not deacons in the formal sense. In fact the term deacon as we know it never appears in the book of Acts, not even once. It will later on especially in the pastoral epistles when it becomes an actual office in the church. But it is not right now. It is simply a general term for serving people. A general term. In fact, if you look at verse 4, apostles, their service is also called deaconing because it says in verse 4, "The ministry of the word, deakonia tu logu, it is the deaconing of the word, service of the word, ministry of the word, take the general word for service. You got that?

And here's another example: Romans chapter 13, how many of you know what that's about? Okay, one of you know what that's about. It's about how Christians deal with the government, government officials, tax collectors, police officers are called in Romans 13 ministers of God. Same term, deacons, same term. It's the same word applied to pastors, elders and any servant in the church is also applied to government officials. So iti s simply a general term for servant. At the very beginning of the church, it was simply apostles and disciples. And now a group of helpers or assistants who would help in the daily distributions of food. It's very very simple. And you have word servants and you have table servants. That brings up a question, only touch on it for lack of time: What is the right proper form of church government? What is the New Testament form of church government? How should a church be organized? Well that's interesting because Jesus though he said he would build his church, he never said exactly how he would do that. In fact he never really talks about structure at all. But he does something infinitely more important: Attitude. Attitude. He says for example in Matthew 20, "The rulers of the Gentiles lorded over them and those who are great exercise authority over them but it shall not be so among you. For whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave." Now church structure, church government is a big nebulus. So much so that there are today three, could even expound that to fie or six different forms of church government. The most popular ones, I'll give you three, is congregational church government, that's where everybody in the church congregation votes on everything. There's Presbyterian church government, that's where you have a group of elders, presbytery, they make the decisions. Then you have Episcopal form, that's the third form, that's where a bishop or a group of bishops over an area or areas preside and they make the decisions. Now every one of those groups will find scriptural support for their form of church government. So I'm going to appeal to Nelson's Bible Dictionary that says this, one sentence, "No single pattern of government in the early church can be discovered by reading the New Testament." Jesus left no rules. He didn't say, "Here's the policy manual. Here's my new book How to Start a New Church the Jesus Way, he didn't have any of that. Phillip Shaff who is like the expert in church history, eight volumes of church history, this is my set, Volume 1, says, "Christ laid down no minute arrangements but only the simple and necessary element of an organization, wisely leaving the details to be shaped by the growing and changing wants of the church in different ages and in different countries." Now listen, if the focus in any church is the same focus, the heart of the servant, it doesn't matter what structure you use. You can have carnal bishops, you have carnal elders, and you can have carnal congregations. All of them can be good. All of them can be bad. All of them have flaws, every single one of them. As C. S. Lewis said, "No clever arrangement of bad eggs can ever make a good omelet." So all of them can be legitimate, all of them have a scriptural base and they seem to change over time depending on the needs. That's what I want you to see. In it's first earliest stages it was disciples and apostles and now a group of helpers, the seven, which will eventually become, later on in the New Testament elders and deacons to assist the elders.

What's most important about Acts chapter 6, it's Spirit led. It's Spirit led, it's not fleshly driven, it's Spirit led. Servants should be helpers. And they were, they were very very helpful. The second point I want to make, in looking at Acts chapter 20 now is that servants can be hurtful. They should be helpful but servants can be hurtful and when they're hurtful they're no longer serving.

I take you to Acts chapter 20, let me just give you the background quickly on that, Paul convenes a meeting, a leadership summit, of the elders from the church of Ephesus on the beach at Miletus. Look at verse 17, "From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders." See the word elders? Guess what the Greek word is? Presbyteros, the presbytery, the elders. Now follow that. They get together, Paul talks to them. Look at verse 18, "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock among which the Holy Spirit made you overseers (Episcopos, or bishops. He calls the elders bishops.) To (notice the next word) to shepherd (poimonos, shepherd or pastor) the church of God which he purchased with his own blood." This is what I want you to see: Paul is addressing them and he speaks of elder, bishop, and pastor all as exactly as the same person, no distinction. At this point, they're all the same and he addresses these leaders all with these same names. So an elder is an overseer is a pastor.

Okay, now here's Paul meeting with these guys but Paul can foresee problems. He can foresee a time when the church will be attacked from the outside and the inside, in effect a deacon-possessed church. Look at verse 29, "For I know this that after my departure, savage wolves will come in among you not sparing the flock." These are false prophets from the outside. That's the first problem, "I know that when I leave false prophets from the outside," and here he calls them savage wolves, "will come in among you." And they did, they came in preaching a different gospel. The came in with a whole new set of doctrines. And that is always the case, whenever truth is proclaimed Satan will always counter the truth with lies. Always. Always. It's like when you turn on your front light on your porch, the bugs come and try to get in the house. Lights go on, the bugs will come. And indeed they did.

Now this is the church at Ephesus. Who else wrote a little letter to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2? Jesus Christ wrote, it was Jesus writing to the leadership at Ephesus. And Jesus says to them, You cannot bear those who are evil, you have tested those who say that they are apostles and are not and you have found them liars." So even what Paul saw coming, Jesus said came and the church was able to resist it. That's the first problem group.

But there's something far worse. Not just false prophets from the outside, the second more devious group are faithless teachers from the inside. Look at verse 30 and notice the wording, "Also from among yourselves, men will rise speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after themselves. These are leaders gone bad. These are leaders with their own agenda. These are ambitious leaders. And I agree with one commentary that I read this week who said, "Ambition is the mother of all heresies." Because an ambitious leader in any group that rises up makes it about themselves, it's all about themselves. Notice what it says, "To draw away the disciples after themselves." The word draw away means to drag away or to tear away. It might show up in somebody like, "Well I know what the church has taught you but I'm starting this Bible study to give you the whole truth." It's that kind of stuff. "Rising up from among you to draw away disciples after themselves." Now something you may have noticed, I hope you did, notice that the false prophets and the faithless leaders waited for Paul to leave. Notice that. Paul says, "After I leave this is going to happen." You know why? When Paul left, would you agree, there was a leadership vacuum in Ephesus. Paul was a strong enough leader to keep this stuff at bay and in check. As soon as he left, opportunists saw, "This is my chance," and they came. Now Paul leaves, goes to Jerusalem. Guess who he places as the pastor of Ephesus, this group? Timothy. Well Paul writes two letters to Timothy and basically says, "What I said would happen has happened and leaders from among you have come in to draw away disciples after themselves." The interesting thing is that Paul names them. I'll give you a sampling. I Timothy chapter 1, verse 20, he says, "Of who are Hymaneas and Alexander whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme." II Timothy 1 verse 15, "As you know all the Christians who came here from the province of Asia have deserted me, even Phigelus and Hermogenes are gone." When I read this stuff you know what I think? Don't cross Paul. Because you'll be in the Bible if you do forever as the guy who crossed Paul. He named them in the Bible, so everybody for every generation in every language into which this is translated would read of these guys. Uh-oh. II Timothy 2:17, "Their message will spread like cancer, Hymaneaus and Philetus are of this sort." Okay, compare Acts 20 with Acts 6. Acts 6, Spirit led leadership. Acts, 20, fleshly drive leadership, deacon-possessed leadership. Deacon-possessed leadership. Now this type of person is to the body of Christ what cancer is to a human body. Cells proliferate, take all of the energy, all of the focus off t he energy and health of the body and place it on themselves. They're not serving any longer, they're not helpful any longer, now they're hurtful. It's all about themselves.

I think perhaps the best example of this, the best example I can think of is in the book of III John, I'm going to read it to you. There was a guy in the church that John started named Diotrophes. And John writes this, III John verses 9 and 10, "I wrote to the church but Diotrophes who loves to have the pre-eminence among them does not receive us." Let me tell you what he's talking about. John says, "I sent a letter to you, to this church, but Diotrophes rejected my letter because Diotrophes rejected my leadership." Can you imagine? This is a church that John founded but Diotrophes doesn't want anybody to love Paul or responds to Paul any more than they would to Diotrophes. He wants to have the pre-eminence, he wants to be number one, he wants to respected more than John. And so he developed a hatred for John himself.

Somebody once said, "A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small package." Diotrophes was a very small package. It's all about Diotrophes. And for John, it was all about God's glory and the church and the people of God. Now that can happen with anybody. That can happen with a pastor. It can happen when a pastor tries to be so authoritative and not delegate and not let anybody else share any of the gifts or any of the leadership. It can happen with a board member, it can happen with a home leader, it can happen with a School of Ministry student. It can happen with any person in any church.

So, servants should be helpful, Acts 6. Servants can be hurtful, Acts 20. And I want to end with this, I think it's appropriate. This is sort of the antidote to fix it all, servants must be humble. What will save churches from becoming deacon-possessed churches, where it's all about the servant, all about the deacon, all about the pastor, all about the elder; is a humility. And I draw you to Acts 20, look at verse 28, I think here are the keys to humility. Therefore, take heed to yourselves and to all the flock among whom which the Holy Spirit made you overseers to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with his own blood." The first key to humility: realize whose church it is. Whose church is it? It's the church of God. He bought it, right? He purchased it with his own blood. I didn't die for any church. No leader, no pastor died for any church. Paul didn't get crucified, that's what he says in I Corinthians when some were saying, "Well I'm of Paul, I'm of Apollos, I'm of Cephas." Paul said, "Don't look at me that way." So it's not my church, it's not your church, it's His church. And the first step to humility is to realize it's not ours, it's his.

Second step, realize who made you a leader. Who made you a leader? It says, "The Holy Spirit made you overseers." So if he gave you the gift of administration, the gift of government, the gift of teaching, whatever gift you have that allows you to become a leader of any sort in the church, you can't take credit for it. "Well I'm such a marvelous person, and I'm so gifted." Y ou can't take credit for being gifted, God gave you the gift. God gave you the gift. Realize whose church it is and realize who made you the leader.

Number three, realize what the calling is. What is the calling? Well here for these elders, these pastors, these shepherds, is twofold. Pastor the sheep and protect the sheep. Pastor them, feed them, this shepherd the church of God, the idea of feeding them the word of God. So there's no excuse for lazy pastors who won't study and won't prepare a meal for God's people.

And number two, to protect the sheep. It's not enough to just lead them, it's not enough to just feed them. They must also protect the flock from predators. I remember when I first read Psalm 23, don't you love Psalm 23, the shepherd's Psalm? But there's a little section in it that sort of I wondered about. And when I studied it I started really liking it. David said, "Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." Now I in studying discovered that a staff was used by a shepherd to lead the sheep, to lead them, to get them on the right path. But a rod is used to beat up wolves. It was a little club that hung from the belt of the shepherd, had nails in it. And so he could gently lead the sheep, he could also take that club out, see a wolf coming, not negotiate with the wolf, not have a dialog with the wolf, not make it a wolf-friendly environment. But to beat the snot out of wolves that would destroy the sheep. Do you remember when the disciples were with Jesus one day, the Bible says the Pharisees and the disciples were speaking to one another. And what arrests my attention is Jesus walks up to that gathering and Jesus said to the Pharisees, "What are you talking to them about?" He as the Shepherd demanded an accounting from these religious leaders the Pharisees, "You're telling my disciples something, I want to hear what it is. What are you telling them?"

Martin Luther wrote this, "Even if I preach correctly and I shepherd the flock with sound doctrine, I neglect my duty if I do not warn the sheep against the wolves. For what kind of builder would I be if I were to pile up masonry and then stand by while another tears it down? A preacher must be both a soldier and a shepherd. He must nourish and teach but he must have teeth in his mouth and be able to bite and fight. Paul was a good shepherd. May I suggest this is humility, when you feed sheep and protect them from wolves. It's humility because you're putting yourself on the line, you're going to say and do things that are going to create all sorts of question marks, "Why is he mentioning those people or that group?" And that could be divisive. No, it's all to protect sheep. And that is humility.

Here's the fourth step to humility: Rally others around you to help. Leadership must never be done alone. Rally others to help you. Notice what it says in verse 28, notice the plural, "Therefore take heed to yourselves (more than one) and to all the flock among us, the Holy Spirit made you overseers (there it is again, plural, it's all going off verse 17, "From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and also the elders (that's plural) of the church." That's a biblical principle. Solomon said in Proverbs that in the multitude of counselors there is safety. There is, one person cannot, I underscore this, one person cannot discern all of the will of God for all the people in a church. It takes a plurality of leadership. And I think that is so underscored in the New Testament. It's not a one-man band. Ever seen a one-man band? Ever seen the little get-up, he has the drum and he does something with his feet and he blows the harmonica, it's kind of being held up. And he strums something, and it's very novel but it's goofy. It's like so not cool. It might work in a subway, maybe, like after 3 in the morning. But church leadership is more like an orchestra with several instruments and they all blend and they sing and they play in harmony together. And there might be an orchestra director, all of the instruments are engaged in beautiful harmonious sound is the result. That's New Testament.

I was reading also this week about geese flying in formation. And I read a few things, now it's just sort of interesting, down by my house I'll see them different times of the year flying in that V formation. But there was a couple of engineers who decided to find out why they flew in formation. So they calibrated geese formation flying in a wind tunnel, there was a whole experiment in paper. And they said, "Each goose flapping its wings creates an uplift to the goose that follows it. The whole flock flying together gains 71% greater flying range than if he journeyed alone. The leader will periodically fall back to let another leader take it and then they'll switch off. So even geese realize that there should be a shared responsibility.

Now, I love this flock and I love pasturing this flock. But I love help. And we have help on a variety of levels, even a hundred new home fellowship possibilities after a couple weeks of training. But, if you're going to help, you better love this flock too. If you're going to help in this flock, you better realize it's not your flock, it's not my flock. God owns this flock and Jesus purchased it with his own blood. (applause)

Make sure that is what motivates you to serve in whatever capacity, not fulfilling some need that you have to serve, "I have to fulfill a need, I have to do this. Skip, I just have to do it." Well it better be a better motivation than that. Because you want to be obedient and you love to build up the flock. Because we ant it to be a deity-obsessed church, obsessed with God. Not a deacon-possessed church.

Let's pray. Heavenly Father, this group of people has been purchased by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb without spot or blemish. Because of that great sacrifice, we have the distinct privilege of being owned by God and being called the church of God, purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ and the cross of Calvary, by now the redeemed resurrected Savior who redeemed us and Jesus is the head of this church and all of us pastors, assistant pastors, those who serve in various capacities of help who would be called deacons, Lord all of us are, as Jesus said, "Slaves. Servants of God and servants to one another." Lord, I pray for this flock, I pray for the struggles they're facing this week. I pray Lord that those burdens are rolled over onto you, that you would lift them up and encourage them. And they would sense just like the geese get 71% get more efficiency that there would be an efficiency we would experience tonight as we bring our burdens before you corporately. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

Show expand

 
Date Title   Watch Listen Notes Share Save Buy
3/22/2009
completed
resume  
The Church? Who Needs It
Acts 1:12-15;2:1-13
Skip Heitzig
Info
Message Summary
I'm a churchman. I freely confess that. Yet I'm also painfully aware that the culture around me incessantly asks the above question when it comes to the church: Who needs it? Why should I belong to something so archaic and so narrow? In the next several weeks, I'd like to take a fresh look at us--the church of Christ--and answer this question. Today, as we begin our series, let's jump right in and deal with this question head on: Who needs the church and why?
Message Trailer
Watch
Watch and take notes
Listen - Mini Player
Listen and Take Notes
Listen in Spanish
Detailed Notes
Transcript
Facebook
Twitter
Email
Video (MP4)
Audio (MP3)
Spanish (MP3)
Buy CD
3/29/2009
completed
resume  
Hey, Look Who's Starting a Church!
Matthew 16:13-18
Skip Heitzig
Info
Message Summary
Church was God's idea. It's His plan. Jesus Christ is the founder, architect, builder, owner, and director of the church. Today we look at the first mention of the church in the Bible and consider our spiritual origins. As we listen into a conversation between Jesus and His followers, let's also rediscover our spiritual roots as the people of God. You'll discover that in New Testament terms, both Christian and church are synonymous--one implies the other.
Message Trailer
Watch
Watch and take notes
Listen - Mini Player
Listen and Take Notes
Listen in Spanish
Detailed Notes
Transcript
Facebook
Twitter
Email
Video (MP4)
Audio (MP3)
Spanish (MP3)
Buy CD
4/26/2009
completed
resume  
The Church Jesus Would Attend - Part 1
John 17
Skip Heitzig
Info
Message Summary
The church is not a place; but it is a people. The church is not where you worship; but it is you who worship. Jesus laid claim on the church; it belongs to Him ("I will build My church"). So what does He want His church to be like? What things should characterize us overall as a church? In short--what kind of church would Jesus attend? In His longest recorded prayer, the Lord longs for four characteristics that are to mark God’s people. Today we look at the first two.
WatchClosed Captioned
Watch and take notes
Listen - Mini Player
Listen and Take Notes
Listen in Spanish
Detailed Notes
Transcript
Facebook
Twitter
Email
Video (MP4)
Audio (MP3)
Spanish (MP3)
Buy CD
5/3/2009
completed
resume  
The Church Jesus Would Attend - Part 2
John 17
Skip Heitzig
Info
Message Summary
Church-shopping and church-hopping have long been one of American Christians' notable patterns. Most want a church that suits them, helps them, and pleases them. But since Jesus paid for it, it's His church (Acts 20:28). So what does He want from us as a group? What should the collective people of God be like? What ingredients and activities ought to be part of our makeup as a congregation? In short--what kind of church would Jesus attend?
WatchClosed Captioned
Watch and take notes
Listen - Mini Player
Listen and Take Notes
Listen in Spanish
Detailed Notes
Transcript
Facebook
Twitter
Email
Video (MP4)
Audio (MP3)
Spanish (MP3)
Buy CD
5/10/2009
completed
resume  
The Art of Going to Church
Ecclesiastes 5:1-7
Skip Heitzig
Info
Message Summary

If you're reading this, chances are you've come to church! But why are you here? What is your intention? Don't get me wrong, we're glad you're here today in this place of worship. But for a moment, think about your motivation and your experience--why you've come and what you'll do while you're here and even afterwards. There really is a right way and a wrong way to come to church. Let's consider the words of Solomon--the ancient Preacher.

Message Trailer
Watch
Watch and take notes
Listen - Mini Player
Listen and Take Notes
Listen in Spanish
Detailed Notes
Transcript
Facebook
Twitter
Email
Video (MP4)
Audio (MP3)
Spanish (MP3)
Buy CD
5/17/2009
completed
resume  
On Your Mark, Get Set…GROW! - Part 1
Acts 2:42
Skip Heitzig
Info
Message Summary
What did the very first church look like? If we can answer that question, we can determine two things: First, we will be able to see the model we are expected to follow as a church. Second, we will be able to see why we need the church, since these things speak to core needs that we all have. The first church in Jerusalem was a learning church, a caring church, a worshipping church and a generous church. Let’s consider the first mark today, and the place that apostolic teaching and preaching had on the very first assembly.
Message Trailer
WatchClosed Captioned
Watch and take notes
Listen - Mini Player
Listen and Take Notes
Listen in Spanish
Detailed Notes
Transcript
Facebook
Twitter
Email
Video (MP4)
Audio (MP3)
Spanish (MP3)
Buy CD
5/24/2009
completed
resume  
On Your Mark, Get Set…GROW! - Part 2
Acts 2:42
Skip Heitzig
Info
Message Summary

"Fellowship"! How many times have you heard that word since you've been a Christian? But do we use it in the right sense and do we practice it in the right way? Let's take a topical tour of this word in the context in which it appears here in Acts. We discover that not only was the first church a learning church; it was a caring church. This is one of the strongest factors for your own personal spiritual growth, so let's see how it's to be done.

Message Trailer
Watch
Watch and take notes
Listen - Mini Player
Listen and Take Notes
Listen in Spanish
Detailed Notes
Transcript
Facebook
Twitter
Email
Video (MP4)
Audio (MP3)
Spanish (MP3)
Buy CD
5/31/2009
completed
resume  
On Your Mark, Get Set…GROW! - Part 3
Acts 2:42
Skip Heitzig
Info
Message Summary
The third characteristic of Breaking Bread seems like it doesn’t fit in a list of the four most important priorities of a church. Of all the possibilities for essential core values, why is eating so central a practice? What does breaking bread really mean and is it still to be a primary focus for modern Christians? Today we will both study this and then practice it together.
Message Trailer
Watch
Watch and take notes
Listen - Mini Player
Listen and Take Notes
Listen in Spanish
Detailed Notes
Transcript
Facebook
Twitter
Email
Video (MP4)
Audio (MP3)
Spanish (MP3)
Buy CD
6/7/2009
completed
resume  
On Your Mark, Get Set…GROW! - Part 4
Acts 2:42
Skip Heitzig
Info
Message Summary
The first church in Jerusalem had lots of things missing from it—charters, committees, strategies, financial resources and buildings—things that many today would deem as vital. But it had great power! Why? We can only surmise that it is because they tapped into the source of power through prayer. Prayer was part of the very fabric of the church. It was basic and foundational… and it was effective. What would happen to our church if we were all devoted to this discipline?
Message Trailer
Watch
Watch and take notes
Listen - Mini Player
Listen and Take Notes
Listen in Spanish
Detailed Notes
Transcript
Facebook
Twitter
Email
Video (MP4)
Audio (MP3)
Spanish (MP3)
Buy CD
6/14/2009
completed
resume  
When Christians Are Generous
Acts 2:44-45
Skip Heitzig
Info
Message Summary
To find out what God intended His people to be like, we have to go back to the Spirit-led church in the book of Acts. As we take a fresh look at their style, structure, and service, we get the full picture. This group wasn't a bunch of independent isolationists who met once a week. They were generous toward one another and sought to meet the social and economic needs of people in their spiritual family. Because they were so open-hearted, they were also open-handed.
Message Trailer
Watch
Watch and take notes
Listen - Mini Player
Listen and Take Notes
Listen in Spanish
Detailed Notes
Transcript
Facebook
Twitter
Email
Video (MP4)
Audio (MP3)
Spanish (MP3)
Buy CD
6/21/2009
completed
resume  
Soul Winning
Acts 2:47
Skip Heitzig
Info
Message Summary

Jesus said that He would build His church. But how does He build it? What means does He use to call people out of the world and into His church? The answer is simple: Evangelism. As the early church (and any church) shined it's light by proclamation and by practice, people left the darkness. In fact in the first stages of the church, unlike today, "joining the church" and "being saved" were equivalent statements. Let's see how the first church did evangelism.

Message Trailer
Watch
Watch and take notes
Listen - Mini Player
Listen and Take Notes
Listen in Spanish
Detailed Notes
Facebook
Twitter
Email
Video (MP4)
Audio (MP3)
Spanish (MP3)
Buy CD
6/28/2009
completed
resume  
How to Build a Beautiful Body
1 Corinthians 12:3-22
Skip Heitzig
Info
Message Summary
Advertisers know that a trim and beautiful physique helps sell products. Think of what that means in a spiritual sense. Can a spiritually fit and beautifully functioning local church attract people to Christ? Jesus said that He would build His church. So do we have any part in that? Since Paul compared the church to a physical body, is there anything that individual members can do to help beautify it? Let's look at four principles that will help us do exactly that.
Message Trailer
WatchClosed Captioned
Watch and take notes
Listen - Mini Player
Listen and Take Notes
Listen in Spanish
Detailed Notes
Transcript
Facebook
Twitter
Email
Video (MP4)
Audio (MP3)
Spanish (MP3)
Buy CD
7/5/2009
completed
resume  
Avoiding Church Splits
Philippians 2:1-4
Skip Heitzig
Info
Message Summary

The early church grew by addition and multiplication. It seems the modern church prefers to grow by division: one group splintering off on its own only to replicate that cycle again and again. The Christian community at Philippi was a vibrant, growing church but it was experiencing a period of disharmony. A split between two personalities was threatening the integrity of the church’s testimony. Here we learn how such a split can be avoided.

Message Trailer
Watch
Watch and take notes
Listen - Mini Player
Listen and Take Notes
Listen in Spanish
Detailed Notes
Transcript
Facebook
Twitter
Email
Video (MP4)
Audio (MP3)
Spanish (MP3)
Buy CD
7/12/2009
completed
resume  
Hands Up, Face Down
Acts 2:47;Revelation 4-5:14
Skip Heitzig
Info
Message Summary
When you go to a doctor's office you are typically asked, "So, what brings you here?" The answers may range from having a sore throat to something far more serious. The same is true of coming to church. Not everyone comes for the right reason: to worship. The first earthly church was committed to it and the church in heaven will continue it. Let's get some Scriptural pointers.
Message Trailer
Watch
Watch and take notes
Listen - Mini Player
Listen and Take Notes
Listen in Spanish
Detailed Notes
Transcript
Facebook
Twitter
Email
Video (MP4)
Audio (MP3)
Spanish (MP3)
Buy CD
8/2/2009
completed
resume  
You're On a Mission-From God!
Acts 1:8
Skip Heitzig
Info
Message Summary
Please don't turn off to this message! It's going to be about missions. Lots of Christians immediately respond to world missions by saying, "That's not for me!" I think God would disagree. Getting the gospel of Jesus Christ out to the whole world is our "Family Business." In this final message on the church, lets consider why that is and how that works.
Message Trailer
WatchClosed Captioned
Watch and take notes
Listen - Mini Player
Listen and Take Notes
Listen in Spanish
Detailed Notes
Transcript
Facebook
Twitter
Email
Video (MP4)
Audio (MP3)
Spanish (MP3)
Buy CD
There are 15 additional messages in this series.