1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus are letters written by Paul to younger leaders early in their ministry.
He writes to Timothy and Titus who are facing the collision of confusion, false teaching, and opposition to gospel ministry in Ephesus and Crete.
I’ve found Paul’s response to each issue a really helpful reminder.
False teaching: Be the Church
Confusion: Be the Church
Opposition: Be the Church
Paul is encouraging them to 'begin with the end in mind'. In a confusing and challenging season, don't get distracted. Commit to being God’s Church first and work out issues from there.
1. "What does it look like for us to be the Church in this place at this time?”
What does it look like to be a church of formed disciples, devoted to Jesus, his gospel, and his Word?
What does it look like to be a church of intergenerational community in a way that grows us all into the image of Jesus?
What does it look like to be a church that practices radical hospitality with insiders and outsiders?
What does it look like to be a leadership community with the time and space to shepherd and disciple?
Notice we are not talking about buildings, programs, or structures. We are not talking about what ‘normal’ was.
2. "How do we work towards this through the 'Traffic Light' season?" What do we start doing?
What do we stop doing?
Addressing question 1. before question 2. helps frame ministry in the coming season as both more manageable and more exciting.
More manageable, as it keeps us focused on what really matters and who we have been called to be. More exciting, as it reminds us that God's power is, and has always been, at work in and through his people.
How should we respond?
We recognise the complexity the government's new COVID-19 Protection Framework brings; there are significant theological and practical concerns for leaders.
Like you, we understand the deep desire for clarity in the now—for detailed plans and contingencies—for insight into how this will play out. And we also know how hard it is to meet this desire in our pandemic context.
As we seek clarity, we must first remember where our confidence is: in the Maker of Heaven and Earth, in the crucified and resurrected Christ, in our God who dwells with us.
This has been our team's first response: to meet and pray, to spend time in the Word, to think and read, and to listen to the concerns people are expressing.
We hope to serve and support you at this time in two ways:
1. By sharing with you a range of resources that have helped bring us clarity and point us back to confidence in God and his Word
We've appreciated theological reflections from those within our movement, like this piece by Lincoln Road Bible Chapel's Chris Northcott: The Needle Dividing The Body of Christ.
We've valued hearing from Christian leaders in Victoria, Australia, as they wrestle with a similar level of restrictions. This piece in particular is both theologically rich and practically helpful: Vax and Un-Vax, A View from A Melbourne Church
I've also appreciated this shared document: A Victorian Church's Plan for Returning to Church
We’ve asked staff to develop material which is both theologically-formed and practical in serving you to discern the way forward in your local church.
CCCNZ Youth Enabler Murray Brown gets us started with this piece: Thinking Theologically About the COVID-19 Protection Framework
2. By continuing to encourage you in your roles as leaders of independent churches
As an elder, pastor, or ministry leader what are the challenges and opportunities you are finding in this season?
As an elder, pastor, or ministry leader what do you need most (in the way of support and encouragement) as you head into this season?
Please let me know. We pray every morning for you and would love to be praying specifically for you in this season.
We encourage you to be faithful and keep going. You are the right person, at the right time for your church family.
In the weariness, as you discern the way forward, you are not alone.