Painting by Carpaccio of the consecration of St Stephen
Solving an incipient conflict in the early Christian community

Here are some questions over the Uniform Series text, Acts 6:1-8, that we could consider in class on Sunday:

The text mentions that “a dispute arose …,” and goes on to describe steps that were taken to respond to it, without giving many details about the dispute itself (e.g., no names are mentioned, and there is no record of any direct speech by anyone on either side of the dispute). If we were telling the story of our congregation, how would we tell the story of an episode of conflict? How might what we tell depend on who we are talking to, why we were telling the story of the congregation in the first place, what we wanted to accomplish? What might the approach of this text indicate about the author’s/text’s purpose(s) in including this story?

The Twelve contrast the service of “tables” with the service of “the word.” They do not offer any description of these two services, but they imply that the work of food distribution would take them away from prayer and the word. How do we, today, see these two services as being different? Similar or the same? How do we understand or describe the key contrast(s) between them? (E.g., Importance to the church? Skill? Temperament? Background knowledge? …) What, if any, difference does it make how we describe or understand this difference? Why?

The Twelve instruct the disciples to look for candidates who are full of the spirit, and wisdom. What does this tells about the demands of the job? How does it tell us that? What, if any, tasks in the church do not share these qualifications?

Congregations and denominations today sometimes struggle to allocate church resources among different functions, and sometimes “mission” and “worship” are seen as competitors. What, if any, advice for that situation does this text seem to give? Why do you say that?

The text tells us that the word of God spread and the number of disciples increased. How, if at all, is this related to the episode described? Why? What implications, if any, does your answer have for congregational life today?

Is this a story of “calling”? How? Who is called? In what ways is this “calling story,” if it is a calling story, similar to the stories we have studied in earlier weeks? In what ways is it different? What difference do those similarities and differences make? Why?