Arkansas pastor says church leadership can be found in unexpected places: ‘Meet the difficulties of our day’
“And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. And Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:7-8).
“Philip went down to a city of Samar′ia, and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the multitudes with one accord gave heed to what was said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs which he did. For unclean spirits came out of many who were possessed, crying with a loud voice; and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city” (Acts 8:5-8).
These verses come from the Acts of the Apostles, the fifth book of the New Testament.
The book is traditionally attributed to St. Luke the Evangelist, according to the website BibleGateway.
In the book, “Luke has provided a broad survey of the church’s development from the resurrection of Jesus to Paul’s first Roman imprisonment, the point at which the book ends,” said the same source.
“In telling this story, Luke describes the emergence of Christianity from its origins in Judaism to its position as a religion of worldwide status and appeal,” the site added.
This verse is an example of the work of great leaders in the early church, Ken Spicer, founding pastor of Hope Family Church in Quitman, Arkansas, told Fox News Digital.
“The church needs strong and capable leadership to navigate the days ahead,” said Spicer.
“The early church was an organization with a vibrant leadership culture,” he added — even if that leadership came from an unexpected origin.
“Stephen and Phillip were two of seven men in Acts 6 who were assigned to wait tables in the temple, so the apostles could devote their time to prayer and study of the Word,” Spicer also said.
And while the two were merely waiters, “leadership was not only demonstrated to them, but was also expected from them.”
Revered as St. Stephen Martyr in many Christian denominations, Stephen is regarded as the “first martyr of the burgeoning movement that exploded after the resurrection of Jesus.”
Meanwhile, “Phillip sparked the first major evangelistic crusade the early church had ever seen,” said Spicer.
“They could have understandably deferred their leadership endeavors to someone with a more prestigious title than ‘waiter,’” he said.
“They could have embraced the obvious limitations of their position and made excuses, but in an organization where everyone is expected to lead, they both did.”
Even with his position as a waiter, “Stephen’s ministry had all the gifting that an apostle would have, yet without the title,” said Spicer.
“Interestingly, the lack of a title did not concern the Apostles.”
Following Stephen’s martyrdom, Philip “rose to meet the persecution of the church with strong biblical leadership,” said Spicer.
“The revival in Samaria resulted in great joy for the people there and led Peter and John to come from Jerusalem to assist Phillip,” he said.
This is significant, as “the two most notable leaders of the early church and two of three of Jesus’ inner circle came to serve alongside Phillip, thereby validating the ministry of this waiter.”
These verses serve as a lesson for the church in the modern world, said Spicer.
“If the church at large would get serious about making disciples and empowering the laity, people would be empowered to do the work of the ministry, and I believe we would see things unprecedented in the modern era,” he told Fox News Digital.
When a person realizes that competent leadership can come from even the most unexpected places, “it changes everything,” said Spicer.
“God has always used the unqualified to do the seemingly impossible,” he said.
“Now is the time to rise as his body, whoever and wherever you are — and meet the difficulties of our day with confidence in the love and grace of God.”