Currently I am preaching through the book of Titus with our Foothills Community Church family on Sunday mornings. As I began to study this great epistle, I was immediately struck by Paul’s instructions to Titus in verse 5. And Ive not been able to get past the implications of the words of the Apostle in this one verse.
“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you” Titus 1:5.
This is the Biblical blue print for missions. But more than that, this is the Biblical mandate for discipleship in general. As Christians, we so often over look this cookie cutter approach to making disciples to our great detriment.
Titus was a disciple of the Apostle Paul. He was mentioned by Paul in 2 Corinthians a total of 9 times. Titus was also present with Paul at the Jerusalem Council in Acts chapter 15. Titus was not only discipled by Paul, but he was trained by the Apostle in doctrine and how to refute error. After being raised up by Paul, Titus was sent on mission to the island of Crete.
Paul immediately gave his protegé two orders. First, Paul ordered Titus to “Put what remained into order.” Paul was speaking of teaching the natives proper doctrine. It is easy to infer by the words of Paul that the Gospel had reached the people of Crete. And quite possibly there had been believers trying to establish a church. However, what remained on the island was confusion over Biblical doctrine.
Titus wasn’t ordered to go to Crete and play games with their children. Titus wasn’t ordered to go to Crete to do Boy Scout, good deed, missions. Titus was sent there to first teach them Biblical doctrine and set straight where they were believing in error.
Paul first ordered Titus to straighten what remained, that being the doctrine, as a means to an end. What Paul really sent Titus to Crete to do is to establish churches in the area. And you cannot establish churches without first raising up men who are equipped with a Christ centered doctrine. This is why secondly, Titus was commanded to raise up Elders.
So many missionaries passionately claim they want to go to the ends of the earth to give their life to the people of the world. But people don’t need our life. They need men who are capable of proclaiming the Gospel and refuting error.
It’s not enough to send simply send any warm blooded man or woman with a church membership into the mission field. Missions is not a Christian vacation. In missions, we are sending people into the Spiritual war for the souls of men. We must strive to send people who are able to teach Biblical doctrine and raise up new leaders.
I fear that the church in America has for the most part lost it’s focus. In our great zeal to reach the lost, we have forgotten the blue print given through Titus and at times, resorted to man centered tactics. We’ve become more concerned with drawing lost men who are outside of the church instead of focusing on raising up the saints inside it’s walls with intentions of sending them out to preach the Gospel to those in their lives.
Paul’s blue print for evangelism was never to say to Titus, “I sent you to Crete for two reasons; to create churches that are more like the world so the world will come to you, and to get people into the church building by any means possible so they will hear the preacher.”
The blue print was never to get people to merely come hear the preacher on Sunday mornings. The goal was never to put our hope in being as culturally relevant to the world in hopes the world would come to us. Because if our hope is in the power of relevance, then it’s not in the power of the spoken Word of God.
The goal of the church is replication. It is to disciple men, creating many preachers that would then go forth in making disciples.
The church is not a vacuum, attempting to suck as many people in the doors as possible. The church is to be a dispenser, churning out trained disciples able to rightly handle the word of truth as they go forth as the Royal Priesthood of Christ.
One of the great flaws in modern day evangelism is neglecting to pray fervently that God would raise up men from within who are doctrinal sound and equipped to speak the truth in love. We pray for the lost and right we should. But how often do we corporately pray that God would raise up leaders from within?
I pray that our churches would consider heavily the command of Titus 1:5.
I pray that our greatest focus as pastors and church leaders would be to preach and teach Biblical doctrine. I pray that our people would become disciples, not attenders. That we would raise up missionaries, not members. And that God would bring forth preachers, not partitioners.
The focus of the church should be to glorify God, to edify the saints, and to raise up pastors, elders, and missionaries from within. And when spiritual maturity has been achieved, we send them out. The goal of mission and discipleship must be focused first on reaching and discipling the church. Because when the church is made strong, the lost will be reached.