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Q&A: Titus 1

Questions and Answers on Titus 1

Bruce Stanley

July 11, 2022


Titus 1 Q&A

Here are some brief answers to our questions from our Sunday evening service. If you would like to discuss more, please call me or email at bruces@stphils.org.au.

Are we as general congregation members (not Timothy-s or Titus-es) responsible for keeping leaders accountable?

Yes. As the Church of God we have a responsibility to keep our leaders accountable. In the Anglican Church, the government of the church is made up of clergy and lay (non-Clergy). IN fact, there are about 2 lay people for every clergy. Together, about 800 people govern the Anglican Church in Sydney - mostly non-clergy. This is similar to the government of the Australian Anglican Church. We are the church of God's people and we all have the responsibility for holding leadership accountable. We have structures to ensure this happens. It isn't perfect, but it is in all of our hands.

How can we hold church leaders accountable when we see behaviour that is ungodly?

It's not always easy to confront a leader about their behaviour due to the imbalance of power. Leaders are not perfect and often make mistakes. However, some mistakes are more than just a mistake. They can cause a great deal of harm to a person and to the church.Therefore, it is important that ungodly behaviour is reported.

Any leader in our church at Eastwood or Ermington is reportable to the Senior Minister, the Rector (Bruce Stanley). Concerning behaviour can always be reported directly to him and he will take each matter very seriously. Other members of staff can also be approached, including our wardens, Chris, Mike and Lee. They can help to advise you how to make a report. However, to make a report about the senior minister or about any church worker, at any time, you can directly contact the Diocesan safe ministry hotline by web or phone:

https://safeministry.org.au or call 1800 774 945

Call this number any time even if you are uncertain whether the matter is reportable. These details are also available in the foyer of the church.

You can (and should) also report directly to the government when abuse involves children:

https://www.facs.nsw.gov.au/families/Protecting-kids/reporting-child-at-risk

What's up with v12? That seems a bit brutal - also I thought Paul was criticising the Jewish circumcision group, why start bagging out the Cretans here?

Yes, it does seem a bit mean! The overall culture of Crete was known for its lies and poor behaviour. It's most likely where we get the insult of calling someone a "Cretan". Paul was using hyperbole, or exaggeration, to say: "Yes, this is the dominant culture of Crete. A lying culture. Titus, you need to find Christian leaders who are not part of that terrible culture - and appoint them as leaders. The city had a reputation. Paul was just drawing attention to that socially recognised fact.

Who are elders in our church/the Anglican Church?

Anyone who is ordained is considered an elder in the wider church - Bishops, Priests and Deacons. (usually with the title "Reverend"). These people are recognised by the leadership of the wider church to be elders in the church. However, in our local church, we have many others, such as our senior staff (pastors0, as well as our wardens, who are recognised within our community as people who are respected and trusted as elders and senior leaders in our local church.

Who are the “rebellious people” of our day, who are full of meaningless talk?

Anyone who points to themselves, or distracts us from the gospel, is a rebellious person. Leaders who have their own hobby horses, or make church all about social issues (which is a part of what we do but not the main game), or deny the truth - such as leaders who teach against the resurrection. The meaningless talk and deception that Paul is talking about are from the circumcision group which focused on things like historical and local myths. Often this is done for their own personal gain. We have seen this in churches today where pastors make their ministry all about their own career path - writing books, building a personal business - or having a greater passion for traditions (for example) over the truth of the gospel message.

Is appointing good leaders everyone's job, or just the Titus's and Timothy's... And who are those Titus and Timothy figures today?

Everyone! Every leader comes from our church seats. Every future leader needs to be encouraged and prayed for and trained. Titus is given the responsibility of actually appointing these people. Titus was like a Bishop in Crete. He laid hands on them and this is the role of a Bishop in our church today also. But each one of us has the responsibility of putting leaders forward for appointment. Then they are tested by the elders of the church as to whether they are fit for life-long ministry in God's Church.

Why do we do lord’s supper?

Jesus ate the Lord's Supper with his disciples as a final meal with them before his crucifixion. For one account of this, see Luke 22. Jesus calls on his disciples to do this regularly - to remember him. And this is the key - it is a meal of remembrance of what Jesus has done. The early church then continued to do this. See 1 Corinthians 11. This gives us a picture of the Lord's Supper being a regular meal of God's people, remembering the work of Jesus - his life and death and resurrection. At St Phil's and St mark;'s, we celebrate this meal of remembrance about once a month.

it is one of our two "sacraments" in the Anglican Church. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are the two ceremonies that we were commanded to continue doing by Jesus. They are outward, physical signs that point us towards the inward, spiritual grace we have been shown by Jesus.

Many church leaders are found to be abusers in church. How can we trust them?

This is a difficult question. Many PEOPLE in our world are found to be abusers. How do we trust anyone? Teachers, police, doctors, ministers, politicians... I truly believe that what Paul writes to Timothy is to remind us that the standard is higher for leaders in God's church. Once trust is broken, it can take a long time to heal. That is why we need to keep the bar of expectations high for church leaders and be vigilant for abusive behaviour. All I can say is that over the past 20 years, I have seen our Church (Anglican Church in Sydney) do this better than in the past. But we have a long way to go. The key is good recruitment. We need to recruit people into ministry who are of godly character. Character always trumps charisma or competency. Leaders are not perfect, of course, but when they break trust, the consequences are, and should be, much more severe for the sake of the integrity of the gospel. There are many things that may disqualify someone for leadership in the church that will not necessarily disqualify them for leadership outside the church, such as sexual infidelity.

In short, we build trust with our leaders, one at a time. Sadly, when one leader breaks trust it affects us all. Pray, and be vigilant. We can be forgiving, but even forgiveness does not always mean someone is able to continue in leadership in the Church. Trust each leader by evaluating their life and teaching closely.

In our culture men & women lead eg Jacinda Ardern & Ursula von der Leyen. Titus 1 has only men. How do we reconcile this? How does a seeker understand this?

Great question. Yes. There is no doubt that this list of characteristics applies actually to all Christians. They are the minimum bar for leaders. And integrity is not gender-specific! However, in this particular passage, it seems Paul is talking to Titus about overseers of churches. That is, those who have the responsibility over a whole church family.

In our Anglican Church, men and women share the ministry across every area of church life. This is sadly not the case in many churches. However, the senior minister position (the overseer of all congregations) has been set apart as a position of sacrificial responsibility for men. I personally believe this is a biblical model in terms of oversight and responsibility that is reflective of a family. However, I do recognise some believe differently on this. You can find more information about our church understanding on our webpage: https://stphils.org.au/about/women-in-ministry

This is not the easiest question to answer in a short Q&A but I do invite anyone anytime to email me and arrange a time to chat more about this. It is complex and there are many aspects to consider, including the many difficult passages in the letters to the Corinthians and to Timothy.

Click here to watch the questions answered during our live Q&A after the sermon at night church last Sunday.

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