On the blog this month, we’ve focused significant time on preaching in church revitalization. We’ve covered some great areas to touch on in your preaching calendar. In this post, I want to discuss why I think the Pastoral Letters (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus) should be go-to material for churches in revitalization.
1. They are written to pastors. Both Timothy and Titus served as pastors. Timothy was an elder in Ephesus and Titus was an elder in Crete. While we aren’t ever told they are serving as what we might call “lead pastors,” the fact that Paul writes to them individually could certainly mean they had special roles as shepherd-teachers.
Timothy was perhaps around 40 years old. It’s not known how old Titus was, but it’s possible he was around the same age. Paul wrote to these young men as pastors, helping them navigate the waters of ministry in the first century. As a young pastor under 40 myself, I’ve found great encouragement as I’ve read Paul’s words and, I think, the folks in the pews have as well as they see how Paul addressed a “young whippersnapper” like Timothy.
2. They address real issues within local churches. In 1 Timothy, Paul advises Timothy on how to deal with false teachings in the church, and it’s likely that some of the false teaching was coming from elders in the church. Paul addresses local church leadership in both 1 Timothy and Titus as he talks about the qualifications and roles for elders and deacons. Paul also addresses how believers are supposed to relate to one another in the local church. While each of these local churches in the first century needed to hear these truths, they are just as applicable for us here in North America in the twenty-first century!
3. They address priorities in ministry. As a pastor, you have no doubt discovered that many things compete for a pastor’s time and energy. There are meetings to be had, visits to make, occasional weddings and funerals to conduct, conflicts to resolve, and long-range plans to consider. While each of these may be important at times throughout your ministry, none of them is the primary reason you are a pastor. Paul makes clear what a pastor’s first priority is: “I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of his appearing and his kingdom: Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.” (2 Tim. 4:1-2, CSB)
No matter what else you may do on a weekly basis, preaching the Word must be primary. Paul said he “solemnly” charged Timothy with this responsibility. So, preaching through the Pastoral Letters can serve as a good reminder to you as the pastor — and to the people in your congregation — that you have a weekly deadline to prepare a sermon and proclaim the Word of God.
So, pastor, consider preaching through the Pastoral Letters as you lead a church through revitalization. I would recommend preaching through them early in your tenure (first three years). The Pastoral Letters will help you and the people you shepherd focus on God’s plan for His church, and then you can begin to align yourselves accordingly.,
Published February 26, 2019