The Apostle Paul in his letter (actually a field manual) to Titus, who was serving as a regional leader on the island of Crete, charged Titus with the task of strengthening the churches there. He writes, "The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished..." Titus 1:5. Some commentators say that Titus was working with 100 churches or more on the island of Crete during his time there.
The phrase 'straighten out' (NIV) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. "It means, properly, to make straight upon, and then to put further to rights, to arrange further." (Robinson)
"'Set in order' (NASB) is an interesting Greek word, epidiorthoo. The first two, epiand dio are prepositions. The word orthoo is the word from which we get orthodontics, orthopedics and all of those mean straightening. When you go to the orthodontist, he straightens your teeth. When you go to the orthopedist, he straightens your bones. That's what that means. So what he is saying intensified by two prepositions is 'thoroughly and completely and fully straighten out what still isn't straight.' In ancient times that word was used by secular medical writers for the setting of bones or the straightening of bent limbs. So he says I want you to completely set things straight." (MacArthur)
Titus' commission was to establish and re-establish the foundations of the church in Crete for the purpose of seeing strong, gospel-centered churches that are missionally engaged.
How was Titus to strengthen the churches on the island of Crete?
Appoint leaders in every town (Titus 1:5-16).
He was to set forth the qualifications of healthy leaders (vs 5-9) and to deal decisively with the unhealthy ones (vs10-16).
Teach sound doctrine throughout the church (Titus 2:1-15).
He was to promote healthy thinking as well as healthy living (vs 1-10), which is found in the power and motivation of the gospel (vs 11-14).
Remind the people how to live out the gospel in this world (Titus 3:1-14).
He reminds them to "be ready to do good" (vs 2); to "be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good" (vs8) and "to learn to devote themselves to doing what is good" (vs 14).
In light of this scriptural foundation, we see church strengthening as a serious issue.
So what is a healthy church?
It is led by healthy leaders who are examples to follow.
It deals with rebellion quickly and courageously.
It promotes sound doctrine (Strong Orthodoxy and Orthopraxis).
It is intergenerational and branches beyond social structures.
It promotes the centrality of the gospel as the fuel for sanctification and mission.
It does not talk about mission, it fulfills the mission of God.
One of our core convictions is that no leader should lead alone. I believe this also translates onto a corporate level that no church should attempt to achieve that mission alone. Our desire is to walk alongside churches and to be a voice of encouragement, just as a coach calls out the best in them, or a friend is there to lean on.
We are committed to starting and strengthening churches.
How are you measuring the health of your church?
Do you know how to establish an annual church health rhythm?
How do you gather the opinions, feelings and attitudes of your people in a constructive way?
How do you use your annual ministry plan to improve the quality of your ministry?
Who do you trust to help you in evaluating the health of your church?
Gary Rohrmayer, President and Executive Minister
Gary Rohrmayer is president and executive minister of Converge MidAmerica.