There are things that a sign-up sheet is aptly suited for. A sign-up sheet implies that anyone can add their name to the list. Do you want to clean the building? Anyone can do it. there is a sign-up sheet for that. Do you want to help with snow removal? Anyone is welcome to do that as well. Don’t fight over being the first to sign up. But you don’t want to have a sign-up sheet for elders. I mean, you can see the potential problems here can’t you? A gentleman wanders in on a Sunday morning and sees a sign-up sheet for elders on the bulletin board. He thinks, “Why, I would love to be an elder. I don’t believe in God and I don’t like people but I think being an elder would be fun.” No church is going to except this person as an elder, but an embarrassing situation has been created. This is an extreme situation. What about the member who no longer comes to the business meetings because he can’t get his way? What if he signs up to be an elder? Awkward! Elders are chosen. This should probably be true for other ministries as well.
Luke begins Luke 6:12-16 with “It happened in those days.” In those days of the Pharisees holding tightly to the old wine of avoiding sinners and tax-collectors; of missing the true meaning of Sabbath with their old views of work and doing. In those days of Jesus demonstrating a new wine approach to the Old Law. In those days of conflict, Jesus went up to the mountain to pray. Luke puts an article in front of mountain which implies it was a well-known mountain to his readers. We, however, don’t know which mountain. Jesus spent the whole night in prayer. There has been all manner of guesses concerning what Jesus was praying about. Because of the context, it seems likely but not provable, that he was praying about the conflict over approach and the decision of which disciples to choose. In Luke a major event is usually accompanied by Jesus praying. I think there may be a lesson in there for us somewhere.
When day came about time for prayer was over and time for action had arrived. He called to himself his disciples. It may be important to remember here that a disciple is someone who is following a rabbi in order to learn his teaching and his life-walk. He called the disciples and then out of that group of followers he chose twelve and named them apostles. The word “named” means to give a name or characteristic to. “Apostle” means “one who is sent.” One source said that this group of twelve was chosen to be the transition between Christ and the Church. That seems likely. It you read Acts, you see a fading from apostles leading the church in Jerusalem to elders being the leaders.
What is important for us, is that Jesus, out of a group of people who were following him – whom he knew and observed – he chose twelve for a specific ministry. Jesus did not pass out a sign-up list. He chose men who he believed were suited for the ministry. He spent time with them and spent a night praying over the decision. These men were going to be the focus of the conflict after he left the earth. It was an extremely important decision not to be haphazard or left to chance. They didn’t draw straws. They were chosen. Not all of the disciples were suited for this ministry. This is not about importance. This is about suitability. Another important observation is who he chose. Simon, whom he gave the name “rock.” All of the evangelists put Peter first in the list. Maybe more important is the fact that the name “Peter” is not used in pre-Christian Greek. Jesus chose Simon and named him as “rock” of the group. But Peter is not who we would have chosen. He is often saying stupid things. He talks when he doesn’t know what to say. He and Andrew, John and James were fishermen, which occupation was looked down upon by others. There was also that other Simon who was a zealot. A zealot was either a politically proponent of the violent over throw of Rome or a follower of Phineas. I’m not sure there would be much difference really. Iscariot most likely means “Man from Kerioth.” We don’t know much about the rest of them. So, out of all of his disciples, and there may have been several more at this point, Jesus chose these twelve. And together they changed the world.
Some things cannot be left up to the randomness of a sign-up sheet. Why is it that we don’t often follow Jesus’ model here? Maybe, because this takes more effort. It takes getting to know who is suitable for what ministry. It takes a lot of prayer. And it takes making a choice. But if the ministry is important you will want to make a choice. So take the time to get to know potential teachers; hospital visitors; camp workers; youth workers; and etc. And then pray like crazy. Grace and peace.