Titus 1-3: The Church-Organization and Relationships
This short three-chapter book could be seen as a sequel to 1 Timothy in scope and principles of the Church institution. There are two offices that Paul denotes in the organizational structure of the church – the Pastor/Elder/Bishop and the Deacons. After having been a pastor for over 23 years, I have a bit of understanding o the necessity and need for these positions to be established.
Titus has been a sort of silent partner in the missionary journeys of Paul, but very supportive and critical resource. Titus like Timothy has been left behind to care for the young established churches and to set them up organizationally as well as instructionally I spiritual matters. Young Timothy was placed at Ephesus and Titus at Crete.
One of the most critical aspects of the modern-day church that I have heard – is that it’s members have become institutionalized. I deal with church health and find that this is very true. People get stuck and are more inclined to support the institution rather than engage in scriptural ministry. So, when we begin to talk about positions and power within the church, there are various on-going struggles.
While Paul does not give Titus any additional requirements for Pastors and Deacons, the church has empowered these positions with either too much or not enough authority to fulfill their duties. I have pastored in the Baptist faith, more specifically the Southern Baptist Convention denomination. I have been taught that churches are completely autonomous and do not fall under any other ecclesiastically institution. However, we have many denominations that use other than Congregational polity. The Presbytery and the Episcopal polities organize quite differently. The Deacon office is more of a Board of Directors that dictate the functioning of the church. It is a downward directed relationship. Pastors are directed to a place of office at the discretion of the Episcopate. In other Reformed churches the Elders are the authority in the church and direct the functioning. Missing is what the Congregationalist have which is “member voice” in decisions.
In Titus we do not find the overwhelming bureaucracy, we find the basic tenets of the organizational structure. The emphasis is on the man not the power of the position. As Paul wrote to Timothy, the qualifications and character of a man serving the church is vital. Today I find that there is still much debate on what Paul set down as qualifications. Churches are ordaining divorced men, women, and deacons are likewise with the same issues. Now, I disagree with the point that the most significant qualification is the debate about martial status. The whole man must be evaluated. Also, I find that if the man is not suitable for the ministry, regardless if he meets the “church” qualifications – then do not lay hands on him.
If a man is not already doing the work of the ministry then, he should not be considered. I know that a church can ordain anyone they want, that does not make it right. I have seen men who were ordained to the office of deacon, who were babes in the Word. It was like the church said – well he is a faithful, good old boy, let us do this for him. That sort of “reward ordination” weakening the office!
On the office of Pastor, there seems to be quite a variance in how much authority and power the Overseer should have. The church calls the man to the office of Pastor, then restricts his ability to minister as the Lord has directed. Did the church just want a “preacher?” Now Paul was establishing these very important positions, but we must see them not as Offices of Organization, but Spiritual positions of Ministry!
Titus is also instructed in how the church should get along. Younger members were to respect the older, yet the older were to teach the younger how to live out their faith. I find that this has fallen on hard times. It seems that Church has become every person for themselves. Paul instructs Titus about church discipline in 3:15. As the church, people/members are under obligation to represent Christ in all our dealing within and without the church body. God has well said that we are like sheep – stiff-necked and hardheaded.
I do not know what the issue was as Crete, but the continued reminder to do good deeds and live sensibly tells me that the church could have been like many of our churches today – a church in name only. The functioning of a church is to win the lost, do benevolence to the widow and orphans and exalt the name of Christ among the nations. It has been said – the Church is the only organization created for those other than themselves.
Finally, The Church needs to BE the Church, not Do Church!