The Front Door

What do people experience when they walk through the front door of your church?  What are the first impressions they get?  These are questions that I would say the average church member probably doesn’t spend much time thinking about.  If you are not in the position of visiting a church for the first then you don’t really have to think about first impressions.  Believe me when I say, however, that the first impression could be the last impression if we are not leaving a good impression.  I’ve been reading a few articles lately on how the church can better seek to engage visitors. Thom Rainer wrote a very interesting article entitled “What they see when they come to your church Part 2“.

In my opinion there are a lot of churches that have a long way to grow in this area.  Sadly we all have missed opportunities to share the Gospel, to show Christian love, to experience Christian fellowship, and to show others how we love Jesus.  Those opportunities are long gone because some folks couldn’t get past the front door of our church.  I’m not saying they couldn’t get into the building.  They just couldn’t get through the front door of the actual church, its membership.  Just because we unlock the glass doors and ring the bell on a Sunday morning doesn’t make us an inviting and loving church.  Some structural things are important.  We should probably keep the bathrooms clean, have somewhere for people to park, have enough seating for people, have a well structured and safe children’s program for the young families, and we should throw up some signage to help people know where to go.  But there is more to it than that.  People may be glad you have clean restrooms, but if they are treated poorly during their visit and feel unwelcome, then the cleanest and nicest bathrooms in the world are not going to be enough to get them to come back.

Rainer mentions four areas of concern for first time attenders.  The first and most obvious is the general friendliness of the church members.  When you and your family walk into a new place on a Sunday morning it is quite obvious that the stress level is elevated.  You are in a new church, you don’t know any of the people, you have no clue where you are supposed to go, you don’t know where to drop your kids off, you don’t know how things work because you are experiencing it all for the first time.  What you don’t need is to be ignored with nothing more than a superficial greeting.  If members in the church are not watching for people who need help, if they are not speaking to guests as they walk in, if they are not offering directions, and if they are not introducing themselves to these new folks then we are not meeting one of the most basic needs that all first time vistors have.

I would also add to that the need to acknowledge people we don’t know.  When someone comes into the service and sits down prior to the service starting, we have a prime opportunity to reach out to them.  Sitting in the same pew, around the same people, and never talking to anyone else is not only unhelpful in reaching out to new people, it is also uninviting and makes people feel like they are an inconvenience.  Contrary to popular opinion, this is not the pastors job either.  While the visitor will take note of the friendliness of the leadership, they also have a keen eye on everyone around them.  When you walk into a church and it feels like you just accidentally walked into someone else’s family reunion, it can be a little awkward.  People don’t come to church to feel awkward.

Something else that tends to make for an awkward experience is when a church is fake.  Visitors have an uncanny ability to discern whether or not we are just going through the motions.  Rainer says that true worship is another essential for first time visitors.  It’s not as much about their worship experience on the first visit, its more about the experience and expression of those around them.  Visitors will notice whether or not the people in the church are engaged in the music and the preaching of the Word.  Are the members of our church really worshiping the one true God?  Is the experience we have together on a Sunday morning vibrant, alive, and genuine?  If there is more joy in watching grass grow than there is in the services on a Sunday morning visitors will take notice.  So should we for that matter.

Maybe in some ways church folks feel a sense of entitlement.  When we have the attitude that says this is my pew, my service, my friends, and my class, we are in essence saying to visitors “you don’t belong here, its my church.”  Isn’t it amazing that we dare run up to God, take what belongs to him, and run off to claim it for ourselves?  My kids do that and I can tell you that it’s annoying.  They grab something that I have laid down on the table and claim it for themselves.  And I’ve seen how those boys treat the toys they have, I don’t want them touching stuff that I would like to keep nice, or in working order.  If they claim it for themselves there is no telling what they would do with it and I have to remind them, hey you are playing with something that doesn’t belong to you and so maybe you ought to put it back before you break it.

What if we started to realize that this stuff isn’t ours?  The days we say “my church” are the days that someone needs to come along and say to us, “hey you are claiming something that doesn’t belong to you and maybe you ought to put it back before you break it.”  What if we started to view things in life as God’s things.  If our perspective was God’s church, God’s Sunday School Class, God’s people, God’s things, how much more open would we be?  We may lose that sense of entitlement and actually encourage others to be a part of what God is doing.

When people walk through our doors, do we let them in?  Do we welcome them?  Do we show them how we love Jesus?  Do we show them that we care about them and want them to love Jesus too?  Take a little more time this Sunday to open your eyes and your heart to the people around you who you don’t know and take the initiative to reach out to them.

 

Falling Through The Cracks

I’ve heard it said that one of the biggest frustrations with larger churches is the inability to keep up with one another.  When there are multiple services and hundreds of people in and out of the building on a weekly basis, it is quite difficult.  If you go to one service then you miss the people in the other service.  There may be members of the church that you’ve never met or talked to.  It becomes increasingly difficult for the pastors of the church to keep up with everyone.  This type of church dynamic makes it easy for people to fall through the cracks.

This can be one of the most frustrating things for me as a pastor.  There are some folks who are members of the church but don’t have family at the church.  At some point they may get sick or have something happen, but given the fact that no one at the church had much connection to them, we might never hear about it.  These people are eventually forgotten.

I got a call from a family wanting me to officiate the funeral of a man who was a member of our church. When I was a young minister, starting out in youth ministry at TBC, I began to walk around on Sunday mornings shaking peoples hands during the services.  This man was one of those guys that I would always go talk to.  I loved talking to him in the mornings, and he was always glad to greet me with a friendly handshake and talk about how things were going.  He probably didn’t know how much that encouraged me.  Along the way he became too sick to come to church and I’ll admit that it has been years since I’ve seen him.  When he was sick and in the hospital, I was unaware.  It wasn’t until his family called to ask me to do the funeral that I realized I’ve missed him.  While I was happy to do the funeral, I was sad to know that I didn’t get to see him before he was gone.

So, what went wrong?  I think the simple answer is he wasn’t connected.  He came to the service, he was a member of the church, but he wasn’t connected to any group within the church that took care of him or knew where he was.  In fact, I did the funeral and I was the only member of our church that showed up.  He was a member here for nine years, yet without being connected to any other people he simply slipped through the cracks and was forgotten.

To be honest I hate this.  I hate having someone who gets overlooked.  This is why I believe that it is important for larger churches to have a small group ministry in place that exists as the arm of the church which reaches out to the members and connects them to the family.

Every member on the role of the church should be assigned to a small group.  That small group should understand their purpose to be more than just meeting together for Bible study.  That group should understand their purpose to be taking care of one another, both the physical and spiritual needs of the people who they are together with in their group.  It’s far more practical for a small group to check on and know the whereabouts of 5 or 6 inactive people in their class than for one man (the pastor) to have to check on and know the whereabouts of 50 or 60.

It only makes sense that if this man had been connected to a group whose purpose was to reach out and take care of him, we would have known where he was, we would have known he was sick, and maybe we would have been there for him.  Maybe some folks from the church would have attended his funeral.  Maybe we could have reached out to some of his family.  Maybe less people would fall through the cracks.

While I’m not angry at anyone, nor do I think we have any finger pointing to do in regards to the situation, I do believe this is just another sign of growing pains.  The more we grow, the more we are going to have to adjust everything we do in order to meet the challenges that accompany growth.  Our small groups have to become the means by which we stay connected.  They have to be the way we keep others from getting lost in the crowd.  They have to be our means of reaching out and building one another up in love.

It’s been said that “a problem well defined is a problem half solved.”  Knowing our difficulties is only half the battle.  The next step is dealing with them.

Transformed Church (Part 4)

View previous posts:  1 Timothy 1:1-2, 1 Timothy1:3-11, 1 Timothy 1:12-17

This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.1 Timothy 1:18-20

At the end of Chapter 1 Paul restates his charge to Timothy that opened his letter, “…remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies…” – 1 Timothy 1:3-4.  As previously stated Paul is entrusting Timothy with the work of dealing with the false teachers and those who teach a “different” doctrine.  He also makes it clear that this is a divine calling.  God called and gifted Timothy for ministry and this was recognized and affirmed by the council of elders in the church.  Churches today do something similar when they license or ordain people to ministry after recognizing God’s call in the lives of these individuals.  Paul’s charge to Timothy still rings true to those who are called in our day.  False teaching, faulty thinking, and poor theology abound in the church and therefore those who are called to be the shepherds of the church must be ambassadors for truth.

Unfortunately the battle for truth is an enormous task because there is so much to overcome.  In the early church Judaism was prevalent and Christian Jews were attempting to break out of their previous religion and traditions.  Many Gentiles were also coming to know Christ and becoming a part of the church.  The city of Ephesus had a fascination with magic and the occult.  The gospel was quickly spreading and new churches were attempting to honor God in this environment.  Confusion ensued as the truth of God’s message began to challenge the doctrines and traditions of men.  Much of the false teaching and false doctrines came from religious syncretism which is the amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought.  For example many Jews were becoming Christians but still living and thinking like Jews who followed Judaism.

The evangelical church in America has some similar issues to overcome.  The church is filled with people of all ages and different walks of life with a variety of religious backgrounds who have become Christians and yet they are still attempting to live by the world’s standards.  Tradition, culture, and religious pluralism still wage war with truth.  As a result of faulty theology, poor leadership, and false teaching many churches of our day have become so melded with culture and tradition that it would be hard to tell them apart.  In the church the spiritual world and the business world have become intertwined.  Many churches have a system of church government that deeply resembles the same democracy that is prevalent in our own society, forcing the spiritual leaders of the church to become politicians.  What’s worse is the members of churches often see very little difference between their pastor and their politicians.  Ever wonder why pastors rarely remain in any one church for an extended period of time?

In order for there to be unity in such an entity there must be a central source that brings Christians together under the authority and kingship of Christ.  The truth contained in the Word of God is that central source.  Churches whose central focus is not the truth of the Word of Christ being lived out in the lives of believers to the Glory of God have given up the truth for a lie.  Much like Timothy, pastors are charged with the seemingly impossible task of overcoming years of tradition and cultural influence in the church to attempt to bring about a more Biblical and God honoring model.  In fact one might say that this task is impossible apart from God and I couldn’t agree with you more.  God has equipped and called people to serve in such a capacity in our churches, people who are called to be representatives for truth in the midst of people who have “made shipwreck of their faith” by rejecting their conscience and falling away from the faith they originally professed.

Paul mentions two false teachers of whom he claims he has “handed them over to satan”.  This is a reference to church discipline.  To be handed over to Satan was to be excommunicated from the church.  The idea is that if you are removed from the church you are more exposed to Satan.  Paul goes on to say that he has excommunicated them so that they will “learn not to blaspheme”.  The purpose of church discipline is to bring about a spirit of repentance in those who are being disciplined.  Once again as a result of false teaching, faulty thinking, and man made traditions, many churches fail completely at church discipline.  Instead of seeing themselves as the Body of Christ whose spiritual responsibility is to honor Christ, many churches falsely see their spiritual responsibility as tolerance.  Somehow our culture has taught us that love and tolerance will lead people to repentance, wherease the Bible teaches that love is discipline, not tolerance.  The purpose of removing the false teachers from the church was two-fold.  First, it protected the church by removing these false teachers that were bringing about disunity and confusion.  Secondly it was to help the false teachers see their faults, repent of their sins, and return to the church in unity.

False teaching in a church is like termites in a home.  Beneath the surface and often unbeknownst to the inhabitants they are eating away at the very core of the structure.  Once the core is gone the structure will collapse.  Healing cannot occur until the truth is recognized and embraced.  Timothy was sent to Ephesus to reveal the truth, expose the lies, and revive the church.

Transformed Church (Part 3)

View previous posts:  1 Timothy 1:1-2, 1 Timothy1:3-11

One of the single greatest concerns in the early church was the expression of the truth of the Word of God being lived out in the lives of believers compared to the ever increasing voices of confused Christians and false teachers.  What a person believes effects how a person behaves.  If someone is confused or believes in what is false, their behavior will reflect this.  For instance, Paul writes to the confused people in the Corinthian church because they were dealing with division, abuse of the sacraments, disorder during worship services, theological heresy, and moral laxity.  In Corinth their disunity stemmed from arrogance and self-centeredness that was prevalent in culture but incompatible with God’s truth.  Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, making the case that much of their conduct was not in line with the Gospel of Christ.  The Corinthians needed to remove themselves from the immoral thinking of their culture and focus on the truth of who they are in Christ.  In addition to Corinth, the Galatians were dealing with false teachers (Judaizers) who came in after Paul to preach a distorted form of Christianity, the Colossians were experiencing dangerous false teaching that devalued Christ and failed to bring Christians into maturity, and the Thessalonians were confused about the Scriptures concerning the second coming of Christ and were dealing with unnecessary grief, fear, unexpected persecution, and laziness.  Paul writes to Timothy to address the way in which Christians should behave in contrast to the behavior of the false teachers in Ephesus,  and Paul writes to Titus with the same concerns involving Christian living and qualifications for church leaders in contrast to false teaching and behavior.  Paul isn’t the only writer of the New Testament who had something to say about false teachers.  Second Peter warns against false and destructive apostles who cause believers to turn their backs on God, 2 John warns Christians to beware of deceivers and false teachers, and even James deals with the inseparable link between belief and action and the deception that comes from believing lies rather than truth.

With false teaching and confusion over the gospel being a prominent feature of the early church, we should not be surprised to find some of the same issues in today’s church.  While there are some who diligently study Scripture and seek to live in accordance with the Word of God, there are still many church members who are completely confused about the Scriptures and the purpose of the church.  While it should be pointed out that there are many different levels of Christian maturity among believers, it is also wise to take note of  the lack of growth that leads to maturity.   In the church body there can certainly be a lack of understanding and a lack of practice of the truth of God’s word which ultimately leads to confusion, false teaching, and a pseudo form of Christianity that is quite different from the real thing displayed in Scripture.  What must occur in the transformed church is the preaching, teaching, and living of the truth of God’s Word.  Our churches and members of the body of Christ must learn their roles and the roles of the Spiritual leaders God has put in place to shepherd the church.

From this perspective Paul says in verse 12 that he has been “entrusted” with the gospel.  In a way he is revealing his qualifications for being one who is an authority in the matters of the gospel.  Paul admits that his authority comes from his calling and though he doesn’t really seem qualified for the job, God has chosen him to be the messenger to the Gentiles anyway.  Paul affirms his calling and authority through his thankfulness for being one who not only knows the gospel but who has also experienced the transforming work of Jesus Christ.

“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”1 Timothy 1:12-14

Paul thanks God for mercy and for being used in spite of his own sins.  He recognizes that the mercy shown to him by God was not deserved or earned.  When he was a blasphemer and persecutor he acted ignorantly in unbelief and did not profess Christ.  Now that he has been changed through the grace and mercy of Christ he walks in the faith and love that comes from this transforming relationship with the savior.  This is in stark contrast to the false teachers and confused “Christians” who profess Christ and yet live in an evil and worldly manner.  Their hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Paul also says he has been appointed to service.  Technically his so called “job” was to bring the gospel to the gentiles and to lead, guide, encourage, and help disciple these gentiles and their churches.  In doing these things Paul was serving God.

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.  But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.  To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.Amen.”1 Timothy 1:15-17

Paul’s ugly past made him claim himself to be the worst of all sinners.  He persecuted the church and harmed those who professed faith in Jesus.  Paul’s salvation is a perfect example of the divine grace of God, capable of transforming the worst of all sinners and enemies of God.  This is the gospel that Paul lives and preaches, so that Christ’s work in him will enlighten those who might believe in Christ for eternal life.  Paul’s life revealed the result of the true Gospel as compared to the lives of those being deceived by false teachers and false doctrine.

The transformed church is one that recognizes the true gospel and lives it.  The good news is God didn’t just leave people to figure it all out on their own.  Not only do we have the Bible, but just as Paul was entrused with the message of the gospel, churches have pastors, elders, and teachers who have also been entrusted with the truth of the gospel.  Much like Paul these are people who were sinners and yet transformed by the grace and mercy of Christ.  God has called and equipped people who have been gifted and called to teach the truth of God’s word and to help believers apply that truth to life.

Transformed Church (Part 2)

View previous posts:  1 Timothy 1:1-2

“As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.”1 Timothy 1:3-4

Godly transformation culminates in a proper understanding of the truth of God’s Word.  Paul recognized the dangerous results of false teaching within the church which is why he urged Timothy to remain in Ephesus to deal with the false teachers who were teaching “different doctrine”.  False teaching comes in many different forms and it can be both intentional or unintentional.  It could be that the counterfeit teaching comes from someone who intentionally distorts the truth of the gospel out of malice, jealousy, hate, or greed.  Then again, it could be someone who merely misunderstands the Word of God or someone who has been taught wrongly their whole lives and as a result they continue to spread faulty theology.  Identifying the false teacher and understanding what exactly the false teaching is really doesn’t matter, which is why this fact is slighted by Paul.  What is important is the result of false teaching in the church.  The effect of false teaching, whether intentional or unintentional, is the opposite of the intended effect of the Gospel.

In Ephesus the result of false teaching was conjecture.  Not having enough information or gaining false information causes someone to form an opinion or supposition about (something) on the basis of incomplete information.  This leads to even more confusion, slander, gossip, and to what Paul calls “vain discussions”.  Certainly we’ve all probably experienced something of this nature in church.  Someone may start talking about something that they have little information about and the next thing you know it becomes a huge discussion with most of it being nothing more than untrue assumptions. Sadly we are even guilty of shaping our thoughts and opinions of other people by what we “hear” about them without ever getting to know them ourselves.  Church members who thrive on speculation and pretense hinder the work and purpose of the church and disrupt the unity to which we are called (Ephesians 4:3-6).

“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.  Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.1 Timothy 1:5-7

Paul reveals the aim or goal of having Timothy deal with this issue.  The ultimate goal of what he wanted Timothy to accomplish was love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.  In contrast, false teaching was leading to speculation and vain discussions, whereas the goal of right teaching is right living grounded in love.  Paul exposes certain people who had abandoned the love that comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.  This abandonment ultimately led to the church being bogged down in vain discussions and thereby hindering their effectiveness for the Kingdom of God.  A transformed church is one in which its members are unified in the love that is produced by the working of the Spirit of God within them to redeem their heart, their conscience, and their faith.

The false teachers yearned to be teachers of the law, but Paul claims they don’t understand what they are talking about even though they speak with confident assertions.  The church in Ephesus was giving voice to people who had no clue what they were saying and in doing so they were causing confusion, disruption, and corruption among themselves.  The law (Mosaic Law) itself is good, but when used incorrectly or when spoken improperly it can become a stumbling block or hindrance to the truth of the Gospel.

“Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.1 Timothy 1:8-11

The law is useful for teaching Christians how to live when used correctly.  Sound doctrine is what naturally comes from the truth of the Word of God and the message of the gospel that reveals the glory of God.  Paul speaks of being entrusted with this gospel which makes him one who has the responsibility to defend the truth of the gospel.

You’ll notice that the church in Ephesus was subject to the authority of both Paul and Timothy in regards to these spiritual matters.  Paul will go on in the next few verses to explain his qualifications for being an authority on the subject matter which he made reference to also in verse 11 when he speaks of God entrusting him with the gospel.  This can also be seen in the calling of pastors and teachers who are entrusted to speak the truth of the Gospel of Christ.  While the work of the pastor will be clearly discussed in the latter chapters of 1 Timothy, I want to make reference to them now as ones who have been entrusted with the truth of the Gospel of Christ.  The level that a church trusts its pastor(s) to lead them in truth will determine the depth at which the church will mature.  Sheep without a shepherd tend to wander.  The pastors, leaders, and teachers in the church are entrusted with the Gospel and responsible for teaching the truth to believers.  This is indeed a high calling and one that should never be taken lightly.  The transformed Church is grounded in the truth of God’s Word and led by pastors, leaders, and teachers whose high calling is to teach, preach, and live this truth.

It’s also important to note the extent to which the truth of the Word of God should penetrate the inner workings of the church.  Just because a church has a pastor and teachers that preach and teach sound doctrine does not mean that church is grounded in sound doctrine.  The Bible says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.”James 1:22 Hearing Biblical truth is not the same thing as living Biblical truth.  There are many churches who claim the inerrancy and sufficiency of the Word of God and yet the truth of God’s word does not translate to what that church does.  Sound doctrine must be at the core of all a church says and does from what is preached to what is done at business meetings.

Sometimes false teaching is not revealed in the teaching and preaching of a church but instead manifests itself in a church’s “ministry” or “business”.  People tend to separate the spiritual from the business element of a church and as a result they try to run a church like it’s a corporation in the business world and not a body of believers whose spiritual head is Christ.  The business of the church must be just as grounded in truth and led by the Spirit as anything else a church does.  The transformed church has at its very core the truth of God’s word and the leadership of the Holy Spirit that penetrates every detail of the church body.

Transformed Church (Part 1)

I’ve chosen the title “The Transformed Church” because I believe a true church is a group of people who have experienced a realistic and noticeable transformation in their lives through the saving work of Jesus Christ in the hearing of the gospel.  The transforming work of the true gospel leads to godliness.  A church whose primary purpose is to “Be Holy, As I Am Holy” is a church whose goal is to bring glory to God.  It is the transformation from death to life in the believer that becomes the revelation of “the immeasurable riches of His grace”.

The Book of 1 Timothy was written by Paul to Timothy who was dealing with some concerns about false teachers in the church at Ephesus.  Paul, however, does not focus on the false teachings, but rather the consequences of the false teachings being lived out in the lifestyles of church members.  We become the transformed church by being people whose lives reflect the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

In dealing with false teaching, the Book of 1 Timothy offers several practical details about the proper inner workings of the church itself.  This includes the holy living of believers, proper behavior in corporate worship, the godliness and spirituality of church leaders, how church members should relate to one another, and the importance of the message of the gospel in the church.

1 Timothy along with 2 Timothy and Titus have appropriately been named the “Pastoral Epistles” because each one is addressed to people with leadership responsibilities in the church.  More than any other book in the Bible these New Testament letters offer some valuable insights into church life and function.  It is easy for churches to lose their focus and in doing so lose proper perspective in how they should function.  One thing that escalates this confusion in the church is false teaching and false belief.  Churches that are not grounded in the truth of the Gospel will likely get caught up in false teachings, false beliefs, false motives, and ultimately a false Christianity grounded in the traditions of men rather than the Word of God.    What they lack in spirituality they make up for in legalism.  Churches with this “my way or the highway” mentality abuse their pastors, reject God, worship religion, and become ultimately ineffective for the gospel and power houses for the evil one.  In Paul’s day these false teachings were leading to rumors, gossip, false assumptions, arrogance, conceit, and ultimately greed.  Paul’s solution to the problem was getting people back to the truth of the gospel.

In addition to these things, 1 Timothy also offers some of the greatest insights into the purpose of leaders in the church.  Numerous churches exist today that have completely failed to fully grasp the purpose of elders, pastors, deacons, and other leaders in the church.  I submit that the church planting movement has not only started but has thrived over the last ten years based on the fact that the traditional church has failed to function properly in regards to its leadership.  In most cases it is easier and more productive to start a new church than to change what has already been established.  In some cases it may reflect a level of cowardice in leadership who refuses to fight the tough battles for the sake of Godliness, but on the other hand there have been many who have fought hard and ultimately failed due to the unwillingness of the church to change.

Part of the process of rightly understanding the truth of the Gospel is understanding how the church and its leadership should functon.  Paul greets Timothy in the first verse of this letter by saying that he is an apostle by “the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope.”  It is by God’s authority that Paul writes these things to Timothy and this same authority applies to us in the same manner.  Churches should exist and function in a way that reflects the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I believe discipleship is an important key to the right understanding of the truth.  In order for a church to function properly with godliness, its members should know and study the Bible.  Church members should know what 1 and 2 Timothy says.