October 9, 2022 – Acts 6

Lesson Date: October 9, 2022

Focal Scripture Passage: Acts 6:1-15

AIM: To lead students to discover the ministry plan used by the early church and its results, and to commit to serving God in the church regardless of opposition that may arise.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Acts 6 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Tell the following stories and ask the following questions:

Just before Sunday School, Sandra went to the pastor with a complaint.  “Pastor, the ladies restroom has not been cleaned!  It would be embarrassing for a guest to go in there and think that we don’t care enough about God’s house to keep the restroom clean.”  The Pastor thanked Sandra, and then got some cleaning supplies and cleaned the restroom himself.

Ask: “Is it the Pastor’s job to clean the restroom?  How should Sandra have handled this problem?”

Betty volunteered to place some type of flower arrangement in the church each week.  One Sunday, she overheard several people saying the flowers didn’t look good.  Betty’s feelings were hurt, so she told the Pastor he would have to get someone else to take over the flower ministry.

Ask: “How should Betty have responded to this criticism?”

Jeff was a frustrated Sunday School teacher.  Not only did he have to study and prepare to teach the lesson each week, he was also expected to stay in regular contact with his class members, minister to their needs, and reach out to prospects.  Jeff thought, “I can’t possibly do all this.  Maybe I should just quit.”

Ask: “What advice would you give Jeff?”

Tell the students that the early church faced some of these same challenges.  Today as we study Acts 6, we’ll learn about God’s Plan for Ministry.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (deadly lies vs life-giving truth).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Acts 5:41).
    • Tell the students at the close of Acts 5, the church was growing and unified.
  2. A Ministry Need.
    • Read Acts 6:1.
    • Explain the following:
      • The church at Jerusalem had grown to a huge size, probably several thousand.
      • The Hebrews were Jews from Judea.
      • The Grecians (also called Hellenists) were Jews from other parts of the world.
      • The Grecian Jews had adopted more of the Greek culture than the local Jews.
    • Ask: “What problem arose?” (the Grecian Jews complained that their widows were being overlooked when food was distributed).
    • Ask: “Who were the leaders of the early church?” (the apostles).
    • Tell the class the Grecian Jews took their complaint to the church leaders, the apostles.
    • Read Acts 6:2.
    • Ask: “What did the apostles say about this problem?” (it would not be wise for them to neglect the ministry of studying, preaching, and teaching the Word of God, in order to serve food).
    • Summarize: A ministry need arose in the early church, but the apostles didn’t feel it was their place to personally meet that need.
  3. Ministry Plan.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 6:3-4.
    • Ask: “What did the apostles tell the people to do?” (choose from among themselves seven honest, Spirit-filled men to oversee the food distribution).
    • Tell the class these men must be honest to dispel any accusation of favoritism, and they must be filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit to be able to deal with whatever petty complaints might arise.
    • Ask: “What did the apostles say they would do?” (give themselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the Word of God).
    • Ask: “What would happen if the apostles did all the ministry themselves, rather than giving some of the work to others?” (the apostles wouldn’t be spiritually equipped to lead the church, and no one else would learn how to serve).
    • Read Acts 6:5-6.
    • Tell the class the seven men chosen all had Greek names, indicating they were Grecian Jews themselves; this probably made them better able to relate to the Grecian widows.
    • Ask: “According to verse 6, what did the apostles do?” (prayed over the men and laid their hands on them, setting them apart for their special ministry).
    • Ask a volunteer to find and read Ephesians 4:11-12.
    • Tell the students the Lord places pastors and other leaders in the church (v. 11) to equip the members to do the work of the ministry (v. 12); the pastors are not supposed to do all the work, the members are.
    • Summarize: The apostles appointed godly men to meet the ministry need, showing that God’s ministry plan for His church is for leaders to equip the members to do the work.
  4. Ministry’s Results.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 6:7.
    • Tell the class this verse tells what happened when the church followed God’s plan for meeting ministry needs.
    • Ask: “What happened as a result of following God’s ministry plan?” Three amazing things happened:
      • The Word of God increased, spreading to more and more people.
      • Multitudes of people came to Christ and joined the church.
      • Amazingly, many Jewish priests accepted Christ as their Savior!
    • Tell the class when God’s church ministers in an orderly, organized fashion, God blesses.
    • Summarize: When the early church followed God’s ministry plan, they experienced great growth and blessings. Following God’s plan always brings blessings.
  5. Ministry’s Opposition.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 6:8.
    • Ask: “What did Stephen do, in addition to ministering to the widows?” (the indwelling Holy Spirit of God enabled him to do great wonders and miracles among the people).
    • Read Acts 6:9-10.
    • Explain that the people described in verse 9 were Grecian Jews who were not saved.
    • Ask: “What does the end of verse 9 say they did?” (disputed and argued with Stephen, no doubt rejecting the fact that Jesus is God’s Son and our Savior).
    • Ask: “What does verse 10 tell us?” (they could not refute the wisdom with which he spoke or stand against the power and influence of the Holy Spirit within him).
    • Read Acts 6:11-14.
    • Ask: “What did these unsaved Grecian Jews do to Stephen?” Students should name the following:
      • 11 – They secretly conspired to get people to say they had heard Stephen speak blasphemy against Moses and God.
      • 12a – They stirred up the people and leaders against Stephen.
      • 12b – They seized Stephen and took him before the Sanhedrin (the same group that sentenced Jesus to death).
      • 13-14 – They brought in false witnesses who testified that Stephen spoke blasphemous words against the Temple and the Law, and said that Jesus would destroy the Temple and change the Jewish traditions.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 6:15.
    • Ask: “What did the members of the Sanhedrin see?” (Stephen’s face looked like that of an angel).
    • Tell the students that Stephen was falsely accused and brought before the highest council of the Jews, yet his appearance was peaceful and calm.
    • Summarize: When Stephen ministered in the name of Jesus, opposition arose. We can expect opposition when we serve the Lord Jesus.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Review the lesson by asking the following questions:

  • “What ministry need did the early church face?” (complaints that some of the widows were being neglected).
  • “What ministry plan did the apostles implement?” (godly men were to meet the ministry needs while the apostles devoted themselves to prayer and the Word of God).
  • “What happened when the church followed this ministry plan?” (the Word of God spread, and many people were saved).

Tell the students that the ministry plan used by the early church is the model for how the church should function today.  Tell them the Bible uses the human body to illustrate how members are to serve in the church.

Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-21.  Explain the following:

  • Each part of the human body serves a different purpose, but all of them are important. The same is true for the church.
  • No part of the human body is separate from the body, even though it is different from other parts. The same is true for the church.
  • The body cannot function properly if it is missing any of its parts; all the different parts are necessary. The same is true for the church.

Ask: “Are you serving God through His church, or do you expect the Pastor and staff to do all the ministry?”  Tell the students that there are many ways to serve in the church.  The Sunday School alone affords many opportunities, such as care group leader, greeter, secretary, activities planner, prayer, outreach, and taking meals to those who are sick or bereaved.  In addition to Sunday School, there are many other ways to serve, such as the choir, orchestra, ushering, nursery, Upward Soccer, kids’ and youth ministries, nursing home visitation, etc.

Ask: “What happened to Stephen when he served the Lord?” (he was arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin).

Tell the class that we should not be surprised when we run into opposition while serving the Lord.  In fact, Jesus told us, “11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12).  Later in the New Testament we read, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12).

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes.  Ask: “Are you willing to make a commitment to serve God in His church?  Are you willing to serve Him regardless of any opposition that may come your way?”  Encourage everyone to commit to serve God in the church regardless of opposition.  Voice a closing prayer of commitment.

 

CONCLUSION: Encourage the students to following through on their commitments.  Offer to help them find ways they can serve God.

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