A church for all people - Hope 103.2

A church for all people

By David ReayFriday 18 Nov 2016LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Acts 6:1-4

1 But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food.

2 So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. 3 And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. 4 Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.” (NLT)

In any church there is the possibility of some individuals or groups feeling left out. In today’s passage, it was the Greek-speaking converted widows who were being neglected. Possibly not out of malice but sheer disorganisation or because the apostles were so busy preaching. So a way forward was decided upon.

It causes us to reflect on who might be overlooked in our own churches. Older people sometimes feel marginalised because the church has an overwhelming concern to attract and nurture young people. Some churches put so much emphasis on ‘family’ ministry that those who are single feel left out. Which begs the question: what do they mean by ‘family’? Usually it is a code word for ‘husband, wife and kids’—far too narrow a definition!
Those with disabilities, or those of certain ethnic origins can feel isolated. In some churches, those without tertiary qualifications may not fit in. Theological differences can see some individuals treated with suspicion.

Our churches are never monochrome. Plans must be put in place as they were in the early church to ensure that individuals or groups are not neglected. This may not be easy. For example, setting up a ‘singles’ ministry begs another question: what singles? The elderly widow, the young man seeking a life partner, the divorced or separated woman?

The answer is not to see people simply in terms of demographic categories but as unique individuals. Our churches then must depend on people who are ‘full of the Spirit and wisdom’ to ensure that church is a place of belonging and not isolation.

David Reay