Summary: One of the most important thing for a growing church is their need for godly leadership.
Last Sunday, we began this new series of messages called Grow, Church, Grow! We’re spending the next several weeks studying Paul’s letter of instruction for his young protégé named Titus – the person for whom the writing is named.
Titus is ministering on an island named Crete. It’s located just slightly less than 200 miles south of Athens. From east to west, it is 150 miles long. At its widest part, it’s only 35 miles wide. At its narrowest, it’s only 7.5 miles wide. Not a very big island.
However, Christianity had spread and there were churches scattered across the island. They were growing but experiencing trouble. In Titus 1:5, Paul says to Titus: The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished.
Paul’s letter to Titus is instruction on how growing churches should be structured. Today, we look at a section at the beginning of this letter that deals with leadership within the church. Turn in your Bibles to Titus 1:5-9.
Paul wanted to remind Timothy concerning the importance of appointing the right leaders. These churches on Crete had great potential. One of the most important things needed for these growing churches was their need for godly leadership.
John Maxwell is one of the best-known and most widely respected authorities on the topic of leadership. Maxwell is both a preacher and a business leader. He famously says: “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”
Doug Smith used to tell about a pivotal elders and deacons meeting in a church where he once served. The building committee recommended that the church begin construction on a much-needed educational wing.
During the discussion that followed, two elders were very vocal about their opposition to the recommendation. They insisted that the project was too risky and could bankrupt the church. They gave illustrations of churches that had gone bankrupt and quoted economists who predicted an upcoming economic earthquake. They advised against borrowing any money. Those two leaders persuaded the rest of the church board to delay the project until more money was available.
Doug says that two years later, the need was the same. The proposal was resubmitted and approved. By then the cost of the new building had almost doubled. After the vote someone asked one of the two men former detractors, “Will you drop an extra million in the offering plate this Sunday to cover the difference?” To his credit the man admitted his past mistake but added, “Just remember, there were 18 of you who allowed 2 of us to talk you out of it.”
When leadership is poor, we lose our sense of vision, morale suffers, and enthusiasm fades. Whether it’s a team, a business, a school, or a church; the organization stagnates and becomes ineffective.
On the other hand, when leadership is strong, when the vision is cast and people embrace it, when morale is high and people are giving 110% to reach their goals, great things can be accomplished. So leadership is crucial. One of the most important things we can do as a church is choose leaders carefully.
Titus 1:5-9 – The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
The Definition of Church Leaders
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Paul tells Titus that these local congregations must be led by a group of people who are designated as elders. Now that term elder does not necessarily mean “older” chronologically, but it does imply that the elder is “older” in spiritual maturity.
We find in the New Testament that there are three words used interchangeably for the position of leadership in the church. The words were elder, overseer, and pastor. We follow that model here of being an elder lead church. We try as hard as we can to follow the model of the New Testament church when it comes to purpose and doctrine.
So, what about these elders? The first thing we see concerning elders in the local congregation is that the role is gender specific not gender neutral.
I know that statement offends a lot of people. Some would call me a misogynist. They would say that I’m sexist and that I’m a chauvinist. Some would even say that I am a part of the so-called “war on women.” Stay with me here for a few minutes.