Sharing the Load

How the First Century Church Handled Problems, and Still Grew!

Acts 6:1-15

November 7, 2021, April 3, 2022

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.     Introduction and Background (Acts 6:1-4)


A.   As we go through the Book of Acts in the Bible, we are Learning from the First Church in Jerusalem

B.   It was a growing church (Acts 6:1)


1.    Act 6:1  And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied,…

2.    The number of disciples in the church was multiplying – not just adding (1,2,3,4,…), but growing like a multiplication table (120, 250, 500, 1,000,…)!

3.    Jerusalem was now a bee-hive of preaching and soul-winning because the resurrection of Jesus was the only thing people talked about!


C.   There Was Loads for Everyone to Do as a Church (Acts 6:1) – not just individuals, but part of something much bigger!


1.    Church has NEVER been about only coming and sitting and watching…


a.     This is a BODY, not an organisation, or a stadium, or a theatre, or a cinema

b.    An organisation does what it does do for money – we don’t - we do things because it is how we LIVE now – it is our way of life!

c.     A body CANNOT survive with just a few parts working – neither can a church

d.    Everyone must be doing their part, and doing it well – especially if we as one body want to run the race, and win it!


2.    Church is about reaching our world with the Gospel – turning it upside down with truth


a.     It is called the Gospel ministry, and it takes WORK! 

b.    Soul-winning, preaching, teaching how to live as Christians, and not as Jews anymore

c.     Coordinating all the prayer meetings that were going on, and attending them

d.    Counselling people with the answers in the Bible

e.     They were making hand-written copies of the Bible for everyone to read/learn from

f.     And taking care of each other’s needs


1)    Shopping for people who were unable to get out of their house

2)    Paying the bills of people who had no income

3)    Preparing meals, mowing grass, Patching leaky roofs, mending fences, and sitting and just talking with people who had no one who cared for them

4)    People say, THAT’S the government’s job. No! Not according to GOD!

5)    We have read Acts 2, 3 and 4 and seen every Christian in this Jerusalem Church trying to take care of each other!

6)    And there was no lack (Acts 4:34,35) Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.


g.    Sounds like a perfect world… But it didn’t stay this way


D.   Murmuring / Complaining Began (Acts 6:1) – THINGS GOT OUT OF BALANCE


1.    Act 6:1  And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. [THE DAILY CARE OF PEOPLE]

2.    Being a widow was hard enough back then – hard enough now too

3.    But being a born again WIDOW who converted FROM Judaism to Christianity, well, that was even harder!


a.     They had gotten saved at great cost to their livelihood when they left Judaism for Christ

b.    And were instantly abandoned by their families

c.     Left to die – REALITY of persecution and abandonment


4.    And then, when the Christians in Jerusalem were grocery shopping for the widows, they only got food for the Hebrew speaking Christians!!! Not for the Greek speaking widows


a.     The problem was, only the Hebrew speaking Jewish widows were being taken cared of

b.    The Greek speaking widows were being “neglected” – ignored – left behind

c.     Christians were showing favouritism

d.    Unbelievable

e.     But racism goes way back – preferential treatment is always a problem


5.    That led to murmuring/grumbling/complaining by part of the church that saw hypocrisy


a.     The Greek speaking believers were murmuring / complaining / grumbling against Hebrew believers – they were being neglected and going hungry

b.    If nothing was done, the church would have quickly split and divided against each other

c.     The Greek speaking Christians against the Hebrew speaking ones


6.    This problem was threatening to wreck all the work of the Gospel in that city

7.    Somebody needed to do something, and they needed to do it quickly!


E.    The Few Cannot Do It All (Acts 6:2)


1.    Act 6:2  Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.

2.    The few apostles could NOT meet the need – needs were only going to get bigger


a.     Notice what the apostles said… It is not reasonable for us to Leave the word of God and feed everyone, when others can do it!

b.    It doesn’t make sense – to make the few do the most

c.     They were already super-busy (a pastor usually works the hardest)

d.    While most other Christians were sitting idly by IGNORING the work needed to be done


3.    So, the church leaders (the apostles) asked for help


a.     Galatians 6:2  Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

b.    Galatians 5:13  For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.


F.    That was when the apostles came up with a Biblical answer from Exodus 18…


1.    Moses couldn’t do everything, and needed men to help - the same was true here in Acts 6

2.    Act 6:2-4  Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

3.    Sharing the Load - Why? So that the core work of the church could continue:

4.    Prayer and the ministry of the word!


G.   Let’s learn how WE as a church can better do the work of the Gospel, TOGETHER


II.   Message


A.   Help Me Find “Ready Men” Among Us (Acts 6:3)


1.    Act 6:3  Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

2.    The church as a body needed to look at themselves and see if there were any godly men amongst them, that were ready to serve in this ministry and share the load


a.     They took inventory of themselves, and searched for godly men!

b.    Because MEN need to be in ministry


1)    It often is so much easier to get women to help do things in church: Teaching children, Cleaning up, and Praying

2)    But only men can carry the heavy burdens of ministry

3)    And WE MUST start carrying burdens, gentlemen


3.    Notice the characteristics they looked for:


a.     Not for politically powerful men, or successful business men, or even handsome men…

b.    But Godly Men of honest report – a good track record – a godly life


1)    Of being honest – real – Christians, through and through

2)    They don’t mind being an open book (their past was thoroughly in the past, and they were godly now)


c.     Spirit-Filled men - Full of the Holy Ghost


1)    Took their walk with Jesus serious

2)    Instead of being full of drink, or anger, or of porn like most pitiful men are today

3)    These men were hungry for GOD to fill their thoughts, their time, and their life


d.    And, Thoughtful men - Very wise men


1)    Not arrogant, impulsive, demanding, or commanding men

2)    But thoughtful, careful, students of the Scripture – driven by the word of God. Men who quietly think about what needs to be done, and then start doing it


e.     We need those kinds of men here, in this church, in the 21st century!


4.    And not just volunteers, but dedicated men / willing to be APPOINTED over this business


a.     That means they not only volunteered to do what was needed, but they took ownership of what they were doing

b.    That means you begin to realise that what you are doing is something YOU MUST do, or it won’t get done!


1)    Like cleaning up this church every week, carpets and toilets and all

2)    Like going out soul-winning every week on Saturday at 1pm

3)    Like preparing to teach and help teach Children’s church, every week

4)    Like stamping and labelling Gospel tracts


c.     What was the calling men to do at that moment?

d.    These men were called to SERVE WIDOWS


1)    It was NOT the HIGHEST OFFICE to most people

2)    But it was the Lord’s business they were doing

3)    We are supposed to do all things as if we are doing it to Jesus Himself!


5.    And they became ministry addicts(I love it) ‘Addicted’ is a Bible word


a.     1Corinthians 16:15  I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints)

b.    They were easily motivated by the needs of others more their own needs

c.     No one ever had to beg them to do something in the ministry

d.    They just did it!

e.     From the moment they woke up, they couldn’t help but think of ministering, serving, helping, preaching, teaching, caring, going, and going!

f.     Working for the Lord and for people is better than drink or drugs!


B.   Focus on Core Activities (Acts 6:4) – the main things that help Christians grow


1.    Did you ever wonder what is the core work of a Church? Look at the core work, at the centre of this amazing church in Jerusalem…

2.    Act 6:4  But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.


a.    Prayer… and the ministry of the word

b.    And in THAT order!




a.     NOT Raising Money

b.    Or providing Entertainment – making you all feel good about yourselves

c.     Or having Fellowship and fun

d.    Or Child-minding

e.     And feeding the poor is not our greatest work


4.    But Praying and Preaching the Bible are!


a.    Praying - A constant INTERNAL effort that seeks God’s help


1)    Choosing to Rely on the help and power of the Holy Spirit of God

2)    Spending time with the Son of God, like we would if He is still here physically

3)    Private prayer must be first - Personal, quiet worship of Jesus

4)    Then gathering together for church-wide Prayer meetings

5)    There should be Constant prayer going on throughout every day by the people of this church, but especially by the leaders of this church


b.    Preaching and teaching everything in this Book. It’s called the ministry of the word


1)    A constant OUTWARD effort to change the world we live in – it needs help!

2)    By Teaching/Feeding the flock of God with the Bible – Jesus said to do this

3)    Discipling, training in Bible doctrine and godly living

4)    Answering people’s questions – even the hard questions

5)    Showing people how to study the word of God themselves

6)    Preaching on the streets and in the markets so everyone hears, not just those in church

7)    Going from door-to-door, town to town, teaching, preaching, caring about the lost

8)    Serving one another, being a blessing, encouraging each other, helping, loving, sacrificing our own things for the brethren! Especially widows and fatherless! Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27)

9)    These are ALL WAYS we are to minister the word to people


5.    Would YOU HELP ME so we ALL can devote ourselves to these two great efforts?


a.     I am not asking that YOU be busy, and I go on holidays…

b.    But that you help ME and this church stay BALANCED

c.     By finding a ministry in this church that needs help

d.    And getting busy doing that as a service to the Lord Jesus

e.     Not everybody CAN do everything, but everyone can do something!


1)    How about doing a Puppet Ministry?

2)    Or, Helping in the Church Office?

3)    Or joining with some other people and going out Soul-winning – a Tract a Day?

4)    Helping clean up church each week?

5)    Being available to preach at church events?

6)    Help out with Bible Clubs and our Youth Camp coming up in July?

7)    Helping in Children’s Church while we are in here on a Sunday?

8)    Caring for children in Creche so some worn out Moms can be in church?

9)    Being a part of the Welcome Ministry? at the door, making people feel loved and welcome

10) Helping me teach Discipleship lessons to new Christians

11) Writing our missionaries every once in a while to encourage them and pray for them

12) Singing special music in church, or even helping us start up a choir

13) Playing a musical instrument – a small orchestra right here would be such a gift

14) Picking up people who need a ride to church


6.    This is God’s Pattern for every true Church, including ours


a.     NOT that a few people do most of the work

b.    But that the entire congregation (ALL OF US) cares about what we have here

c.     And give our time, our tithes, talents, and our tears for the brethren, and serve each other


C.   Every Church’s Greatest Asset… (Acts 6:5,6)


1.    …Are the MEN


a.     Act 6:5,6  And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

b.    Ladies, you are worth dying for - Sacrificing everything for

c.     Children are the next generation

d.    But God wants MEN this day to be ready, and able, and mature enough to personally sacrifice their lives for a greater cause than their own pleasure

e.     Godly men are what we need, and are our greatest asset when there are problems

f.     And not money

g.    Because a church full of Godly, God fearing, Christ-like MEN is a great church!


2.    So, they put forward their greatest asset/resource… seven godly men


a.     Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost – what a testimony of life! You know this guy… he preaches to Saul of Tarsus, and gets killed in Acts 7

b.    Philip – you know him. He ends up preaching in Samaria and wins the Ethiopian Eunuch

c.     Prochorus

d.    Nicanor

e.     Timon

f.     Parmenas

g.    Nicolas a proselyte from Antioch


h.    You know about Stephen and Philip, but the rest of those seven godly, faithful men are unknown – but they cared about people! And they were willing to WORK a ministry!



3.    The church leadership (the twelve apostles) accepted the recommendations, and prayed for those men, and laid their hands on those men, authorizing them to be responsible for needy people – a big responsibility!


a.     To serve people AS servants, not leaders, or powerful people – just servants – “deacons”

b.    To be willing to be in the background, holding everything and everyone else up

c.     To stay trustworthy, honest, spiritual, and faithful – not start-and-stoppers



4.    And that was when good things started happening again!


D.   The Results of Sharing the Load (Acts 6:7)


1.    Act 6:7  And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

2.    The word of God increased in influence


a.     It was heard by more people in more and more towns and cities

b.    It worked in more people’s hearts, changing men into Christ-likeness


3.    The number of the DISCIPLES, not just of believers, MULTIPLIED


a.     So many people were getting saved

b.    But when those who were saved started doing a MINISTRY (something to do for God) it turned those believers into Followers of Jesu Christ!!

c.     Bible reading and study doesn’t make you into a disciple

d.    DOING something with what you learn from the Bible makes you a disciple!


4.    And notice this… EVEN a great number of the Jewish priests humbled themselves and got converted – which was amazing!


a.     It would be like a load of Catholic Bishops realizing how wrong they are, and throwing away their vestments, and coming to church and confessing faith in Jesus Christ alone!

b.    I wonder who would get saved in your home, at your work, in our city, if YOU got busy serving the Lord, instead of just sitting there on a Sunday morning???


E.   Stephen Starts to Serve (Acts 6:8-15)


1.    Stephen Stands Out (Acts 6:8)


a.     Act 6:8  And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

b.    Up until now our attention has been on the Twelve Apostles, and especially Peter & John

c.     But now that the workload of the ministry has been shared with more men in the church, so has the joy and miracles of the ministry, and also the dangers been shared too!

d.    And God first writes about this young man named Stephen


1)    He was not an apostle – part of the leadership in the church…

2)    Yet, he was a man full of FAITH

3)    Full of the Holy Ghost – of God the Holy Spirit – yielded, dependent upon HIM

4)    Ordained now to a church ministry – committed to it

5)    Helping the apostles preach and teach the Bible

6)    Was doing impossible things – the supernatural was part of his life


e.     You see, When ordinary men like Stephen live godly and step out by faith, they get God’s attention, as well as the devil’s!


2.    Stephen Experiences “Ministry” (Acts 6:8)


a.     Act 6:8  And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

b.    He was called upon to SERVE… widows! THAT was his calling

c.     But he got to experience great answers to prayer, and impossible needs being met

d.    And, as anyone who is in the Gospel ministry knows, we servants always end up doing more than just cleaning toilets, and taking food to people’s homes…

e.     We face troubles


3.    Faces Disputers (Debaters) (Acts 6:9,10) - Persecuted


a.     Act 6:9,10  Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

b.    The Christians had first faced the problems within, and handled it right

c.     And now are ready to face problems from outside

d.    From arguers, debaters, constant challengers, “fact-checkers”

e.     They came from a fancy synagogue known as the Libertines


1)    A mega-synagogue – filled with wealthy and powerful Jews, who were Roman citizens (free men)

2)    Very popular religious group that people wanted to be in at that time

3)    Loads of campus “churches” (in Jerusalem, Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and Asia)


f.     But they couldn’t prove Stephen wrong

g.    So they “suborned” men – “bought” / bribed them to say things against Stephen – to slander him


4.    Fierce Accusations (Acts 6:11,12)


a.     Act 6:11,12  Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council

b.    They sensationalised and exaggerated what Stephen was preaching so that people got stirred up against him


1)    Of Blasphemy against Moses

2)    And of blasphemy against God


c.     Serious accusations


5.    Dragged Before Court (Acts 6:12-15) - Here we are again


a.     Act 6:12-15  …brought him to the council, And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

b.    False witnesses

c.     False accusations – like they did with Jesus – all false accusations


1)    Blasphemy of the Jewish Temple – a very holy place

2)    And against the Law of God – the Torah

3)    Serious offenses - He could be stoned to death if found guilty


6.    And yet, Stephen, just beamed with joy like an angel!
He was serving the Lord and he was serving God’s people


III.         Next Week, we will hear Stephen’s “defence” in Chapter 7 – it is amazing!

IV.Conclusion - Things We Need to Do Now…


A.   Let’s focus our efforts on getting MEN spirit filled, raising GODLY young men in our homes, getting all of us men into our Bibles and a walk with God! Loving GODLINESS as men! (Every man needs to Come tonight to our Men Made Right Meeting at 6pm)

B.   Start DOING our Christianity, instead of just “believing it”

C.   Be prepared to get in trouble for it

D.   Addict/Give ourselves (AS A CHURCH) to prayer– real prayer, not memorised ones

E.    And ADDICT ourselves to the ministry of the word. Getting the Gospel to everyone around us – like a Gospel addict!

F.    And if you do not know Jesus, and have no assurance where you will go when you die… I have some GOOD news for you… you can Call out to Jesus Christ right now, and humbly ask to be saved – you have no time to waste - He is waiting to save you!


1.    The Bible says, While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us

2.    Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners

3.    Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and on HIM alone, and thou shalt be SAVED, born again, forgiven, converted from whatever religion you were born into, into Christ Himself!

4.    Believe like your life counted on it – because it does!