The Living Church, 9-30-2020
Is the church organized? Does the church have direction, and a sense of mission? We must be discerning in reading Titus! We do not abide by 2:9, “tell slaves to be submissive to their masters,” because we have read Philemon. We know Paul himself subverted the institution of slavery when he commanded Philemon to receive the runaway slave Onesimus back, not as a slave, but as a brother (Philemon 1:15-16). We know Paul’s sense that in the church of Jesus, no one is a slave (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11). Thus, we take Titus 2:9 as a word set in first century Crete, but not applicable to us today. The overarching spirit of Titus, though, most definitely speaks authoritatively to how we, as a 21st church, must function if we are to be the body of Christ.
We must be a living church. In a living church, ministries happen. People meet Jesus. The good news is proclaimed by the pastor in sermons and by the members and worshipers in everyday life.
Are you a woman in the church? Are you mentoring younger women, as Paul prescribes (Titus 2:4)? It’s not as if Paul says, ‘go ahead and do this if it fits your calling and is in your comfort zone and is aligned with your gifting.’ This word from Paul is for all women in the church. Are you mentoring a teenaged girl or a college-aged girl, or a young woman? If not, why not? Are you contributing your time, experience, and knowledge to the church’s children’s, youth, or young adult ministries?
Men, there’s a word here for us too. “Show yourself a model of good works,” Paul tells Titus (2:7). Are you doing that? If so how? Would you respond, “Well, I am not a role model or mentor, because I don’t know how to do that”? Fine. What are you doing to learn how to do that? Men, how are you pouring your faith and your life into boys, teenaged young men and college-aged young men?
We, and by “we” I mean the people of the church, have to want this. We cannot say, “Oh that’s not a priority for me.” The Bible doesn’t give any space for saying we don’t value active ministry. God’s word doesn’t give the option of not passing our faith onto the next generation. We have to value an active, difference-making approach to living our faith, and this includes discipling each other and especially our younger members. We all have to be part of ministry. In a living church, there is no sideline nor are there any wallflowers. Everyone is dancing. Everyone is in the game. Every worshiper, member, and attendee are involved in some way.
The only exception might be newcomers, visitors, and seekers. Part of being involved in ministry is recognizing who the newcomers are and gently inviting them to become involved. We want those who come for the first time to be loved, to see Jesus, and then to get active in church life.
Not knowing how to mentor or disciple is not a reason to avoid mentoring and discipling. The follower of Jesus learns how.
The pandemic is not a reason to avoid being involved in ministry. The church has survived plagues, wars, and severe persecution throughout its history. In the Roman era, the church met in tombs – the catacombs. The church, persecuted by the most powerful empire in the world, grew holding worship in mausoleums. We can grow, even if we stay home to avoid getting sick or wear masks and hold our meetings under “social distancing” protocols.
In an era of texting, countless forms of social media, and good old-fashioned phone calls, we have constant connection. We just need to use it to spread the Gospel, encourage each other, and grow in relationships with fellow church members.
If upon reading this, you want to become more involved in ministry, check in with Dina, or Pastor Rob. Our college/young adult group has started back up, in-person. So has our youth group. We continue to do our food pantry and we continue to need volunteers. We have a small group (via Zoom call) starting October 8. You can be involved in any of the ministries. Women, you can attend Dina’s Tuesday morning women’s Bible study, which is also now meeting in person.
If you want to be involved in a one-on-one relationship of spiritual mentoring, we can help you do that. Pastor Rob or Phil Partin can assist you.
If you read this and don’t feel the need to be involved in ministry in any way, I urge you to read Titus 2, prayerfully and discerningly. How does this word of God speak into your life? What does it mean, in your life, to live an active faith? What, in your sense of things, does an active, mission-directed church look like, and what’s your part in that?
I know what I’m saying here is direct and challenging. When we follow Jesus, we find that he’s direct, and he challenges us. I don’t presume to be Jesus, but I think what I wrote here is something he wants all of us to think about. Church should be comforting, but not too comfortable. We need to be prompted and sometimes even prodded by the Holy Spirit. Read Titus and the other passages referenced here. Read, pray, and then get involved in living an active faith and helping Hillside be a living church.