Paul empowers Titus with this most significant mandate - "as I directed you". We would all love to have been in that briefing when Paul instructed Titus on the task at hand "set in order that which is lacking and appoint elders". Here we have a summary, a precise of what was given before. Now before we can look at who needs to be selected, we are given a window into the world of the apostle's ministry:
1. Ever available to be the "sent one". Paul has this man whom he trains up, as the work is getting more than he can cope with. He multiplies himself in Titus, so he has to prepare him before he left. Paul had to remind Titus once he got there, as he probably got overwhelmed at the task at hand.
2. Titus had to "set in order that which was lacking". We will look at that in detail later. Let it be sufficient to say, Paul was not looking to conform all churches to "one model or pattern". Rather, he was wanting every church to be surrendered to "one head" who is Christ, the head of the church. Whilst there are some basics all churches are to give themselves to, they will look and feel differently as the personality of the leaders, the mandate on each church and the context in which they minister, gets reflected.
3. The task required of Titus was to "appoint elders". Wow, two words weighted with such substance -
i. Apostles were very involved in leadership selection in the early church;
ii. They had to educate, endorse, empower and appoint these men in a public laying on of hands;
iii. "Elders" is seen in the plural. Apostolic leadership is noted by its collaborative style. This is reflected at an eldership level where senior local church leadership is more about "us" than it is about "me". The notion of a one man leadership model in the early church, simply did not exist. They were men together, on mission, around the gospel, to transform their world!
The criteria for this team selection must never be seen as a single exhaustive checklist. That would be nothing more than bland legalism. Remember, Paul is revisiting a more substantial convo he had had with Titus before he left for "Project Crete". I want to suggest, Paul is highlighting the major areas that must be matrixed around this team selection. Lets look at it a little closer:
1. Calling: There is no grace to walk in this role if God has not appointed them,
2. Character: The story of the man must first be measured by a life that reflects Jesus in the substance of personhood, especially being strong in the areas that the community is weak-that "contextual character strength" is totally essential,
3. Home: Marriage and family must reflect the beauty of a gospel transforming story. One never looks for perfection. One only looks for the sense of wonder, a faith evidence that Jesus is being seen in the way we love our wives and engage our kids in a bigger God empowering story,
4. Doctrine: These elders were bible guys. Sound in doctrine, substantial in the sacred text, they could equip these saints to live these godly lives, standing strong even when truth is not popular,
5. Culture: They were men who understood the culture they were ministering in. They were not disconnected from their culture nor their context. As overseers, they got the big picture. Being neither small minded nor disengaged from the world, they could lead a community who activates their believers as missionaries into a very difficult world [as we are about to see].
6. Guts: These elders had to be gutsy men. They could not be reluctant to act confidently and boldly either in giving instruction nor in rebuking the wayward. True eldership is not simply placating the sheep, who may bleat in naked rebellion. True eldership / overseers / shepherds, see what is best for the sheep and will lead them there, even if they are not popular for a while.
The first leaders we appoint in a church plant is a very weighty matter. They reflect the prototype we are modeling. Their faith, commitment, passion, diligence, study, love and Bible priority will be the shape of the things to come. We are the shape of things to come - just you wait and see. We will produce after our own kind - and that started in the garden.