Tag Archives: Elders

Titus: BE the Church, not Do Church

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!

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Filed under 2020 missed passages

Vicious Cycle

Readings in Judges can be down right depressing. When Joshua dies after 30 years of leading the Israelites into the Promise Land; I would imagine there was a very high feeling of success. Finally, Israel got the long Promised Land covenant to Abraham. While God had said that “wherever the sole of your feet would touch had already been given to them;” the conquest  of the Canaanite tribes still had to be done.

Joshua, a man of war, and great integrity of character delivered the people. Obviously Joshua was a very influential leader, for we find in Judges 2:10; Israel served God all the days of Joshua, the days of the Elders who followed Joshua; but there rose a generation that knew not the acts of God.  It amazes me as a person and a pastor how quickly people are to forget the blessings of God in their lives. The very next verse tells us that Israel went after Baals; the walked away from Yahweh; provoked Him to anger and incurred His wrath. It’s that same mentality of “what have you done for me lately?” Israel was a wayward, hard-headed and stiff-necked people – careful so is the Church for the most part!

I know the book of Hosea describes the terrible marriage Hoses and Gomer had; when I think of Israel and the spiritual marriage to God – oh how unfaithful they were to Him. Even in the wrath and anger of our holy and righteous God; there is great compassion and mercy. When Israel [and we] cry out to our Lord in distress that we self-inflected; God hears and delivers us. I was thinking about the Judges and how they were called to “deliver” Israel and how that they are a good archetypal of Jesus our deliverer!

The book of Judges reveals the insane cycle of Israel coming and leaving God continually. The cycle shows the unfaithfulness of Israel and the long-suffering of Jehovah. It appears that when a nation/church experiences times of opulence and abundance that a “look what I’ve done” attitude – pride develops and we leave our Heavenly Father who has done it all for us. I cannot but help think of the United States in this analogy. When we are in times of distress or economic decline, we seek after God – even those who don’t know God call on His name for deliverance. God hears the prayers of His people and a return of blessing and hope result. Soon however, people start to drift from the Lord – He isn’t as important now, for things are going good. Henry Blackaby speaks of this vicious cycle in his book “Fresh Encounter.”

One of the problems that I feel precipitated Israels waywardness is they broke the covenant with God. He told them to NOT intermarry with the people; do not take their gods and eliminate the Canaanite people. They failed in all aspects. Early in chapter one, we find that 6 of the tribes did not totally remove the people for their land. Eventually, co-existing with them and sharing their children and customs. Instead of being a change agent to the people; the culture and Canaanites change Israel. Over and over again through the book of Judges, the people of God become enslaved to the very people they were to oust from the land. In our homeland toady we find that we have been infiltrated with so many Eastern religions and customs; when Christianity is lived out correctly, it is declared “offensive” and legislated to stop. Now, before I get too far – the Gospel is for all – all people, all cultures all creation. But the world is having more impact on the Church then we are on the world!

Compromise and apathy are the order of the day. We are to be IN the world, not OF the world; sadly the latter is true. Is America and the American church already in the Vicious cycle of judgment and deliverance?

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Filed under 2017 Peneteuch, Church Revitalization