From the time that Paul was called by God to be an Apostle, he labored to preach the gospel and establish churches. Eventually, Paul began ministering to some of the metropolitan areas of Southern Europe, especially Greece, and sought to establish churches in those regions. To maintain the churches, Paul chose leaders who were able to teach and who were personally growing in doctrine and godliness. Two of the most notable of these trainees were Timothy and Titus.
Both of these men were sent by Paul to help establish churches that would be well-ordered and well- structured. To ensure that they would be able to establish well-structured churches, Paul wrote epistles (letters) to these two men who were younger in the faith than him. His desire was to explain to them how a church should be arranged and organized.
Ultimately it is through Paul’s explanation in his Epistles to Timothy and Titus that all Biblical churches form a proper understanding of New Testament, Apostle-ordained church polity and structure. As we look to the Epistle to Titus we would do well to understand that it is divided into three sections. The first section explains the leadership of the church. The second section explains membership of the church. The third section describes how the church should relate to those outside of the church. This instruction must have been incredibly helpful and encouraging as Titus labored to establish churches on the island of Crete.
Throughout the epistle, Paul labors to get beyond the pragmatic execution of details to be carried out in a church, and instead to teach his protégés (and us) the doctrines behind church authority and structure. Church is not a business that must be run with the precision of CEO and CFO. The church is an organism that exists together in love and unity. The motives and principles that guide and direct a Fortune 500 company are not the same as those that govern a local body of believers. Rather, the church is a body, and should function as such, with each member striving for the health and strength of himself and of the others in the body.
Understanding that churches are not to be run merely on the principles of Wall Street, we must also understand that God has not left us without order. In His wisdom, he has lain out plainly through the writing of the Apostle Paul what the church should look like and how it should function. We will do well in this study to examine ourselves and the church. If churches and church leaders in the first century needed guiding and direction, we certainly do today.
Reflect: What do you think of when you hear the terms church leadership and church membership?