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One of the astonishing features of Jesus’ ministry here on earth is the degree to which he entrusted his message to imperfect human witnesses. He did this while still here, and then asked his followers to continue to represent him to the world after he ascended. Some have called this the last humiliation of Christ: that he would allow faulty humans to speak on his behalf.

  1. In Exodus 18:13-26, Moses finds himself exhausted from the duties of leadership.
    1. What is it that his father-in-law, Jethro, encourages Moses to do?
    2. Why do you suppose Moses had not thought of this himself? Did he cling to leadership because he was selfish, or was it because he felt it was the task God had called him to?
    3. According to Ex 18:21, what were the key qualifications that the leaders/judges needed to possess?
    4. What are some of the common reasons why releasing others to do ministry is a challenge for leaders?
  2. Each year, I work with University students who will be going out for a year of mission service. I have often been struck by how difficult it is to know who will be especially effective and who will struggle. Often, those I think will not do well end up rising to the occasion in amazing and even miraculous ways, while others I thought would excel . . . don’t!
    1. What are the key attributes you would look for before you would release someone into ministry? Are these attributes that can be accurately measured?
    2. Did Jesus send out his disciples after they were ready, or simply when they were willing to go? Is a person ever fully prepared for ministry?
    3. Does the church do too much training and not enough releasing, or does the church tend to send people into ministry without adequately training them?
  3. Both Matthew and Luke record a number of amazing and miraculous details that surround the birth of Jesus, who is “Emmanuel, God With Us” and “the Holy One of God.”
    1. Doesn’t it seem like a waste of time to have the Son of God, in the flesh, spending the vast majority of his time on earth working in a carpenter’s shop?
    2. Why do you suppose it took so many years before Jesus was “released” into active ministry? In other words, why the wait? What was accomplished by these years of waiting?
  4. In Acts 6:1-7, a ministry need arises in the church. Notice how the apostles handled the challenge. First, they articulated the key characteristics needed in the new leaders. Second, they gave the people the responsibility of selecting those leaders. Finally, they brought their selections to the apostles, who laid their hands on them and prayed.
    1. In what ways is this process similar to our selection of ministers today? How is it different?
    2. What is the significance of “laying on of hands”? Is this ordination? Does the laying on of hands give someone authority, commission them for service, or is it an acknowledgment that God has already called and equipped the person?

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