It seems that when things are going well, (disciples were increasing in number), cracks can show (some widows were being overlooked). At that point, the disciples were run off their feet with the ministry of Word, and to be involved in the pastoral care for the needs of the whole community, (thousands in number), was beyond them.
It is often in these situations, that is, when there is a problem; that some people (problem solvers) get into gear. Listening to the Spirit of God, the solution was to choose seven people to serve in the practical care of believers, so that the apostles could get on with prayer and the ministry of the word. These seven were commissioned, and the early church continued to grow. Stephen was one of them. However, serving in the practical care of the believers, did not preclude him from, by the power of the Holy Spirit, proclaiming the difference Jesus had made to his life, and to the life of all believers. (More of Stephen tomorrow).
In ministry, as in all of life, nothing that is worth doing comes easy all the time. There can be real success, and real moving forward, and it is often in these times, that the challenge of the areas that need to be rethought reveal themselves; sometimes through conflict or tension from those whose needs are not being met. In the ministries you are involved in, are there areas where problems are presenting that need solutions? How are you, and the people you minister with, listening to the dissenters whose needs are not being met? How are you, and the people you minister with, listening to the Spirit and discerning the way forward, for God’s plans to be developed, in ways that show God’s love and grace, and will lead to growth in the people you minister to and with?