With our jobs we expect exceptional training, management and organization. We demand that our employer provide the necessary tools to increase and utilize our skills and expertise so that we may gradually progress in our workplace.
With our universities and schools, we anticipate that our professors teach and instruct us with proper and well-thought out curriculums to prepare us for the workplace. So much time is devoted to studying, learning and applying the principles taught to us by these instructors.
Yet, when it comes to the church, we settle for silly and asinine sermons and teachings that, at best, give us wisdom and guidance that are no different than what we find on Oprah or Dr. Phil Today. And at worst, lack any substance or Biblical truths and consequently create thousands of false converts that comfortably sit in church pews today.
In contrast to the standards of the modern church, Paul’s letter to Titus gives us a detailed outline of God’s standards for church leaders and what they should be teaching
Firstly, a leader is not qualified on the basis of aptitude, education, oratory skills, physical appearance or natural ability but rather on moral and spiritual character. He must lead a blameless life, free from scandal and corruption and be devoted to encouraging the church through sound Biblical doctrine. And I’m not talking about a “be a better you” type of encouragement but a solid exhortation to live a holy life. And in addition to shepherding and caring for the flock, a church leader must equip the saints to evangelize and defend the truth (See Titus 1).
So…Paul puts an emphasis on inward character of church leaders and encourages them to teach and live sound doctrine. The modern church seems to put an emphasis on the outward appearance; get a cool haircut (spiky or messy with lots of gel), wear the latest and trendiest clothes (torn jeans, striped collared shirts from Express and absolutely no ties) and listen to cool music (U2, Radiohead, etc.). Sound doctrine? Expositional teaching? Good character? That stuff doesn’t appeal to the public…we need relevant teaching! Oh…and let’s not forget about the booming sound system.
Speaking of teaching, Houston has its mega dose of megachurches known for shallow and superficial sermons that hide behind a mask of relevance and self improvement. We teach people how to become a better you and live life to the fullest. Wanna find a date? Go to your local church and they’ll be sure to hook you up by the weekend. I’m not kidding…how else will we get people to come and listen to our shallow sermons? Have we forgotten that we are called to preach Christ crucified which is the power of God unto salvation (1 Corinthians 1:22-24)? Walk into most modern churches and you will not hear the Gospel and if you do, it certainly isn't the Biblical, God-centered Gospel but a man-centered, self improvement message which is really no gospel at all (Galatians 1:6-7).
Back to Paul’s letter to Titus…you can read through chapter 2 and from the outset, God commands Titus to teach sound doctrine. And this is essential and imperative whether you’re young or old, male or female. It doesn’t matter if you’re leading a youth group or teaching a Bible study for senior citizens; sound doctrine is indispensable and absolutely necessary. And rather than doing sermon series based on CSI or Dr. Seuss, Paul tells Titus to teach the church on topics such as self-control, purity, and Godly speech so that they may obtain a sound and good faith that leads by example. And as leaders in our church, these are the things we should teach and pass down to the younger generation.
If you’re a believer, what is your church teaching? Are you under a pastor who is encouraging you with Biblical truths and equipping you to live a holy life that is an example to those who oppose it? And if you’re a church leader, are you teaching what is in accordance with sound doctrine and feeding your sheep by rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15)? Or, just as Charles Spurgeon recognized over a hundred years ago , are you merely amusing goats?