Wherever the gospel goes, it transforms hearts and, inevitably, whole societies tend to shift in their thinking. But Christless cultures, tragically, make way for injustice and abuse.
Paul knew this, which is why he instructed Titus to establish elders in every church who met a certain standard of character. He explains:
“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:5-9)
There are several principles that Paul is applying here. Let’s explore them.
Where the men go, the culture goes.
Note that the apostle establishes that biblical elders must be men. Men drive their families. Studies have found that when dads go to church with the family, it significantly increases the likelihood that the children will continue on in the faith.
Men are the driving force in the direction of both their households and, as a result, oftentimes culture in general—for good or evil. This is why Paul understood that the men who were set up within the church had to be men who wouldn’t take advantage of the resources and opportunities of the church, but would rather invest in them, create them, and leverage themselves to increase the integrity and ministry potential of the church.
Lost cultures need Christianity to establish virtuous men.
This is one of the most impactful ways that Christianity changes the cultures to which it is introduced. As hearts become subject to Christ and his law, the Christian faith gives men a vision of masculinity that is responsible, family-oriented, Godward, strong, and virtuous. Without such men, societies suffer.
Virtuous men love God, lead their families, and build stable communities.
Paul lists many traits that men should have if they are going to be church leaders. But one trait summarizes the rest: “above reproach.”
A man must be morally self-governing in the sense that he is personally submitting his dreams, desires, and decisions to Jesus Christ. This shouldn’t be a man who must constantly be kept in check through rebuke, correction, and confrontation. He should be above reproach—this is a man whose conscience, private actions, and decisions could be entrusted to a position of authority in the church.
Do your missionaries have a vision for cultivating elders who have moral fiber? Does your church want to send a missionary to craft this vision in a culture that is lost and subject to the whims of evil men?
God’s call equally applies to women—women who joyfully and industriously love their families are desperately needed on the mission field. It’s easy to think that a desire to serve in ways that serve a church community should be utilized in one’s home church. But maybe the best women in your local church are gleaming with God’s call to bring his kingdom to foreign communities that are ravaged with lostness.
Would you prayerfully consider sending someone from your church who has this vision of sharing the benefit of good, Christian family men with the world?
ABWE exists to fulfill the Great Commission by multiplying leaders, churches, and missions movements among every people.