Do you recall your last process of “church shopping”? In my experience, choosing a church home has been a difficult journey. When we moved to Lafayette, it took us about six months of visiting churches before we found and committed to Kossuth. I can still recall each new round of first impressions. I’m grateful to the pastors who would meet with us during the week to field our questions. I recall feeling torn at times, thinking about the compromises we would have to make at church X or church Y.
We all have different filters for what makes a good church. At the top of most people’s list would be preaching style and worship music followed by some combination of children’s or youth ministry, what they believe, location, and friendliness.
Regardless of how you determined to commit to Kossuth (or another church if you are reading this from a different context), you had certain criteria you wanted to be met. That’s a good thing. Committing to a church family is a very important decision.
As we continue to walk through a transition here at Kossuth, one of our questions is, “What are God’s criteria for a healthy church?” Some important changes are taking place for us, and we want to align to what God is doing as much as we possibly can. Further, though some things are changing, other aspects are not changing and cannot change. We desire to hold on to and continue to excel in what should be true of every church—what God wants at its core.
This Sunday, we will launch into a new sermon series on the book of Titus. There are many portions of Scripture that would have been relevant at this point in the life of our church. But a main value behind the choice of Titus is the way this book reminds us of God’s heart for his church.
In this brief letter, Paul wrote very simply and directly regarding three high values for the churches Titus was serving in Crete: biblical leadership, sound (or “healthy”) doctrine, and godly living. Further, Paul makes it very clear that these three aspects of church life overlap and are interconnected with each other. Any God-honoring church must prioritize these three values without compromise.
In the list of qualifications for elders, we see that men who lead the church must be of a certain quality. Further, they are to be vigilant in protecting the church. Biblical leadership is essential, and God has some high standards for men who lead.
Godly leaders are to lead the church in a right understanding and conviction of God’s Word. The Word drives church life—and personal lives. Without a deep anchor in the Scriptures, a church is vulnerable to all sorts of chaos and drift. Those in leadership have a profound responsibility to shepherd the church not toward their own ideals, but toward God’s priorities.
Alongside a rich understanding of God’s Word comes a paramount need to put it into practice. We must never settle for a church culture where people know all the right answers, but don’t allow God’s word to reshape their day-to-day living. God’s Word transforms. It changes us. We have an obligation to act on what God has said. Belief drives behavior.
What I find interesting in these three priorities for the church is that if you remove any one of them, the other two crumble. Without biblical leadership, the church can go in all sorts of wrong directions. Without sound doctrine, leaders will lack integrity and individual’s lifestyles become morally empty. Without godly living, then we clearly send the message that God’s Word doesn’t matter.
In short, what God says in Titus is of great value to us as a church. I invite you to read through Titus this weekend (it’s very short). Watch for these three themes. I look forward to unpacking these deep and essential truths as we continue to follow God in this season of our church life.