If you know anything at all about serving in the local church as a volunteer or even in a paid ministry position, you know that the days are long gone for individuals to pop into a classroom on a whim and join the ministry. Also, long gone are the days of seeing pastors stand behind the pulpit and quote the beginning of Mark 8:34 “Whosoever will come” and then immediately march the volunteers off to their new “forever” home. In most churches, a person wanting to serve in any capacity must first fill out an application, have an interview with the ministry leader, and then pass what is hopefully a stringent background check. Only when they are approved in the interview and found to be above reproach in the background check can they become recognized as a part of that ministry.
This interview/background check practice is far from being a new ministry requirement. In Acts 6:1-6, Luke records a time in the Early Church when a perceived lack of pastoral care caused some people within the church to become quite vocal in their discontent and insistent that their needs be addressed immediately. Facing this unrelenting pressure, those in leadership recognized the need for additional staffing and began to search with great care for seven men to fill this void. Just as those inquiring to work in today’s ministries, these Book of Acts men had to be above reproach and have the wisdom to do their task. But, the Early Church leadership took their search one major step further. According to Acts 6:3, the seven ministry candidates whose sole responsibility would be to wait on tables and oversee food distribution were required to be full of the Holy Ghost.
Did you read what their responsibilities would be? Serving tables and distributing food. I recognize that to many, these tasks were considered to be a menial responsibility. No theological degree was needed. To me, all that would have been required would be to have decent people skills and a good reputation. But, with all that being said, it was mandatory that these Jesus-loving Early Church disciples be Holy Spirit-filled, tongue-talking men of God. Simply put, no Spirit baptism, no position of service.
If this was a qualification in the days of the Early Church, shouldn’t it be a qualification for those ministering today in our nurseries, Sunday school classes, and children/youth ministries? …those serving as greeters, bulletin passer-outers (is that a word?), ushers, and parking lot attendees? …those involved in our audio and video departments? …those on our platforms serving as vocalists and musicians? And, dare I say this? I will. …our pastors and pastoral staff? The New Testament standard is for all of those serving in any and every form of ministry, be it volunteered or paid, is to be above reproach, full of wisdom (know their task), AND full of the Holy Spirit. Important? It was in the early days. Shouldn’t it be important today?
Enough said. Selah.