The Church is in Need of Titusitis
The church is in need of Titusitis. What? After all, itis denotes something abnormal so why do we want the church to be abnormal? We don’t wish the abnormal conditions of sinusitis, bronchitis, arthritis and certainly not appendicitis on anyone. So why Titusitis? Because the normal state of the modern church is lukewarm, stagnant and in decline.
As Paul instructs Titus, we learn that proper Christian behavior is based on the fact that “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,” and therefore those who believe in Christ are to “live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives” as they await his return (Titus 2:11–13). Obviously, the modern western church is doing all but what Paul instructed Titus. Therefore, we want to be abnormal compared to the so-called average church which is in decline according to Pew Research and Barna Research.
First, it all goes back to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission based in the reality that Jesus is LORD!
MT 22:36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.”
MT 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
At the very least, we should be baptizing those who are disciples and teaching them to observe [obey] the commands of Jesus. In other words, we don’t just transfer information but help young disciples put what they learn into practice. (ref. James 1:22) The goal is transformation. (ref. Romans 12:2)
Second, Paul’s letter to Titus gives us some insight into how to “make disciples” and likely why we are experiencing decline in most churches.
Titus 2:1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
What do we learn from Paul’s instruction? In general, we need older adults to pass down Christian doctrine, lifestyle, behavior morays and family values to younger adults. And not only pass them down, set an expectation for younger adults by being an example for them to follow.
These older men and women, precisely older adults advanced in years, are to teach younger adults proper Christian behavior. In other words, disciple the younger adults. So why isn’t this happening? Here are just a few likely reasons:
- There is a wide ranging distortion of what the church is and its associated purpose.
- Leadership in the church is often appointed in the church based on popularity and secular success rather than spiritual maturity.
- Even though numerous churches exist in name, they’ve lost their sense of purpose to “make disciples.”
- Churches have existed for decades in America without any system in place to “make disciples.”
- Most Christians cannot describe what it means to be discipled which means they don’t have aspirations of becoming a disciple who makes disciples.
- Older adults in the church by-in-large have not been discipled so they don’t know how to disciple younger adults.
- Older adults are generally not interested in doing what it takes to disciple young adults.
- Young adults generally show very little interest in being discipled by older adults.
- Young adults generally resist authority and accountability and prefer huddling with adults their own age.
The normal condition of the local church is lukewarm, stagnant and in decline. This is supported by damning statistics. Such as, according to pew Research, only 58% of evangelical protestants attend worship once a week. Along with that, according to nonprofitsource.com, “Christians are giving at 2.5% of income; during the Great Depression it was 3.3%. Only 3 to 5% of Americans who give to their local church do so through regular tithing. When surveyed, 17% of Americans state that they regularly tithe. For families making $75k+, 1% of them gave at least 10% in tithing.” Seriously, the church is in need of Titusitis. That is, in need of solid biblical discipleship led by seasoned adults who have walked with Jesus for decades.
A Work in Progress,