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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Serving Tables

Youth leaving church

I am leery about a study which focuses on concerns about young leaving the church. The reason I am leery is because of the mindset. It is that same mindset as John's disciples who expressed their concern to John that Jesus was baptizing and all were coming to him. Few leaders and fellowships have the mindset of a servant which John expressed to his disciples. He understood the importance that Jesus must ascend even as John must descend.

A similar response among youth and church leadership

I'm not so much concerned about who goes where or comes from where as much as what they UNDERSTAND about their decision to come/go and do what it is that attracts or compels them. This is true whether it involves the manner of praise in a particular fellowship or the social action of that fellowship.

Invariably, the response by those captivated by the concerns revealed in studies such as this is to either ramp up or cut back on whatever it is they are or are not doing (such as praise, social action, etc.) in order to increase or cutoff the flow of those either coming or going to this church or that church. These responses, unfortunately, are in the same vein as those who decide to leave or to come. The similarity of the response by youth and church leadership is in their lack understanding.

First social action in New Testament

The Bible example on social action is specific. It is the first instance in the NT of the social action (a term not necessarily wrong or evil) by the church. It's not merely that the term does no appear in the NT, but that the concept was not in the church's agenda.

However, that first social action itself was not to those in the world but to the widows in needs. (Acts 6) Certainly, it was not an attempt by the church then, as she so typically seeks today, to change a social status or reform society. This is not to say the church ought not or lacks biblical authority to do so, but the charity instance in Acts began with the widows in the church, first.

The NT requirements for serving tables

Furthermore, I have often noted the requirement by the apostles for those who were to take on this menial task of serving tables. They were to be "full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom." It is significant that the Holy Spirit displayed for the church the work of two to the seven selected for this task, not for their distribution to the widows, but their powerful preaching. They were Stephen and Philip.

The Holy Spirit gives words

Is this to say the church ought to increase or cutback on her social action in the community? No. It is to say that when individuals or the church collectively serves widows, mow lawns, drive elderly to their medical appointments, etc., that the fullness of the Holy Spirit is to be evident for all who draw near to them to inquire what and why they have come to do such a thing. I would not presume to dictate or script response flash cards for those workers. The Holy Spirit through a reading and discussion of the Acts 6 passage is able to give insight and understanding but He is always there with a ready word (Luke 12:12) for those who are about the Father's business of serving tables.

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