Friday, June 17, 2011

Titus 1: Effective Church Leadership

     1.        Effective Church Leaders are Essential – 1:5 - "For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you"

Paul instructs Titus that he was left in Crete specifically to ‘set in order the things that are lacking.’ This included appointing elders in every city. It is interesting that Paul uses two different words for ‘elder’ in this passage. In v. 5, he uses the greek word presbuteros, and in v. 7 he uses the word episkopos. The first has to do with being older or more mature, and the second has to do with oversight, though Thayer’s Greek Definitions tells us that the words are used interchangeably in the NT. Elders are essential to the health of a church. They bring stability, vision, and necessary correction in times of error. “Elders in the NT sense are mature Christian men of sterling character who provide spiritual leadership in a local assembly.” Believers' Bible Commentary. Paul also gave detailed instruction to Timothy describing what an elder was to be like (1 Timothy 3:1-7). Peter talked about elders shepherding the flock of God (1 Peter 5:1-4). Indeed A church without elders is a church without leadership. A church without elders is a flock of sheep left in the wilderness. Christ is the head of the church, and He has given elders the task of being his ‘under-shepherds’.

     2.       Effective Church Leaders are Eligible –  1:6-9 - "if a man is..."

Not only are elders essential, they are also eligible (not in the un-married sense, of course). It is of utmost importance that a church appoints elders who are biblically qualified. Two times we are given specific instruction as to the character of an elder, and a number of times we are given the tasks that the elder is to do as an under-shepherd of the Lord. Look at the qualifications: blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word, the he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. These are qualifications that describe Christ-likeness. It is important to note that no man but Christ is perfect in these qualities. God is looking for men that display these qualities as the pattern of their life. It is also important to note that these qualities are what we should expect of all believers. It is the natural outflow of good discipleship, and a Spirit-filled Christian walk.

Where do eligible elders come from? Are they traveling around filling in gaps as needed, or are they developed through effective discipleship over time?

     3.       Effective Church Leaders are Educators – 1:10-2:1 - "rebuke them sharply...speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine:"

The situation in Crete isn’t described as a very good one. The area was full of ‘insubordinate, idle-talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision’—the Jews. This isn't the sort of place that you would want to be in as a young minister. However, Titus and the elders, were to rebuke these idle talkers sharply, that they may be sound in the faith. And they were to speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine. Effective Church leaders must be able to educate people in sound doctrine. Let me say this—most of the learning that you do does not come from a classroom, therefore, most of the educating that a church leader does will not come from behind a pulpit. Even Peter points this out in 1 Peter 5:2-3 – “Shepherd the flock of God…by being examples to the flock.” Elders need to be examples to follow in every aspect of life, especially in sound doctrine.

Do you have any thoughts on "Effective Church Leadership?"

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