Summary: There are many "self-help" books about how we can have a successful church, but Titus is one of the few divinely inspired books telling us how to do this. What are three of the basic principles a church needs to observe to be successful in God’s eyes?
OPEN: Several years back, John Brodie, a former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, was used by his team to hold the ball for field goals and extra points after the touchdown.
A reporter once asked why a million-dollar player like him would have to do such a menial task.
"Well," said Brodie, "if I didn’t, it would fall over."
A successful team is one that pays attention to the basics.
And, if you watch much sports, you’ll often hear athletic comments like:
1. Keep your eye on the ball
2. Hang on to the ball
3. And – if you’re holding the ball for the kicker – don’t let the ball fall over.
In short – pay attention to the basics.
Don’t drop the ball
APPLY: This month, we’re focusing on what makes for a successful church.
Now, there’re all kinds of books on the market designed to tell us how to make our church successful. And many of them are very good and can help churches like ours do our job better. They all attempt to get us focused on some fundamental truth that we may have overlooked.
But of all the self-help books out in the stores, today we are reading from one of the few that is actually divinely inspired.
Titus is God’s self-help book for the church.
If we read this portion of Scripture and pay attention to what it says then we’ll know what God believes it takes to have truly successful congregation.
BACKGROUND: The book of Titus is written to a young preacher whose job is to lay the proper foundation for the churches on the isle of Crete. There are apparently several churches on Crete and they all need more structure than they presently have.
A few years before this letter was written - on the day of Pentecost – Peter preached to a crowd of Jews in Jerusalem. And on that day, 3000 repented and were baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. Among that large crowd of people - were believers from the Isle of Crete.
Apparently, many of these believers from Crete had made their way back home (perhaps as a result of fleeing from the persecution in Jerusalem) and had started new congregations there.
But these congregations were struggling.
They apparently had no structure and were in danger of being influenced by false teachers.
And so, Paul was telling Titus that it’s his job to go in and set things right. Titus’s job was to lay the proper foundation for these churches to be successful.
So, what does Paul tell us will make a church successful?
Well, read again with me from Titus 1:1-2
“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness—a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time”
What’s that mean?
It means that Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ.
Jesus was the foundation of Paul’s ministry.
Jesus was the source of any/all authority Paul had.
Without Jesus – Paul had no value to God.
So, principle #1 – for our church to be successful - Jesus must be the foundation of our church.
Jesus must be the source of any authority within this congregation.
If Jesus is not the head of this church, we have no value to God.
If Jesus is not the head of this church, we will not be successful for God.
We can be filled to rafters with people in this building.
We can have millions of dollars in our bank account.
We can help the poor and the disadvantaged/ even do miracles in the streets, but if Jesus is not the head of this church – we will be worthless to God.
Jesus said: “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Matthew 7:22-23
If Jesus is not the head of the church - if we are not obedient to Him - then we can be as successful in worldly measures as we could possible dream to be, and Jesus would still reject us on the day of judgment.
So, principle #1 – Jesus must be the head of our church.
Principle #2 is found in Titus 1:3.
“and at his appointed season he (Jesus) brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior.”