Perspectives on Family Ministry – The Church at Crete

In the mid-60’s AD, a young Grecian elder received a letter from the Apostle Paul. It was probably a great relief to young Titus to hear from his mentor (Titus 1:4). Paul told Titus, “I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order” (v. 5). Converts were meeting but seemed to lack leadership and direction as they sought to grow in their newfound faith. So, Titus was about the task of providing structure and direction for the church.

After a clear description of qualifications for elders of the congregations, Paul proceeds to lay out the groundwork for Titus that will give us an insight into what it means to have a family ministry or to be intergenerational. Let’s consider a few things as we ready through what Paul says regarding the passing on of doctrine as found in Titus 2:

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, south in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.

Time and time again I’ve heard many from the older generations tell me that they find no place in family ministry or in today’s church at all. This is a sad state of the church. Even here, Paul claims that the foremost aspect of this foundation for intergenerational ministry is to have the older men on board, living out a life of faith as an example to the greater fellowship. Can this be done in age-segregated classes or behind closed doors? In order to move toward a family ministry perspective, we need to seriously evaluate how our older men are interacting with the rest of the church body.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

At the risk of repetition, we must evaluate how our older women are interacting with the rest of the church body. When are their examples exposed to the younger generations? How often do our women take opportunities to “teach what is good”? It appears that, in the Apostle’s mind, older women are the key to training young women to live lives according to God’s design as found in Scripture. If this is the case, then we need make a conscious effort to equip our older women to fulfill this calling.

Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.

The younger men are not to be left out. Here it seems Titus, and elders in general, are called to have a special focus on the young men of the church. Take a moment, though, to consider the state of youth ministry today. Do youth have opportunities to interact with those who are called to guide and instruct? If not, then who are they looking to as an example for a life of godliness? In the development of a family ministry perspective, we need to facilitate connections between the older and younger generations.

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

What about singles? I believe we can consider that they, too, have a place in family ministry. Was Titus married? Was Paul? The text seems to indicate  Titus is to be a leader by modeling good works, teaching with integrity, and speaking with purity. This sounds like an exhortation for every believer, and each one has a part to play in building up the church.

 Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

Most of this seems rather “church-y”, but Paul shows how Titus ought to structure the church for missional activity. Today, many say they are a “slave” to their jobs, but this was a certainty for many in Crete. Yet, these workers were to be held accountable to their “showing all good faith” as part of their spiritual growth and formation. And where does this play out? In the workplace – among those who do not believe in Christ.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

This foundation for spiritual living within the context of intergenerational ministry is essential to developing our strong hope in Christ.  We need one another. Not just one or two people, and not just people our own age or gender. We need all of the parts of the body to connect, interact, and support one another as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ until He returns.

Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

A mentor once told me that God’s call upon a person’s life is many times like a string on an instrument. God uses each of us to play a beautiful symphony. As I see God’s calling upon my life, I know my string is called family ministry. My desire is to be finely tuned and prepared for a consistent declaration of God’s passion for family ministry in the local church, and I pray it will be a sweet sound to His ears.

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