“Growth is chaos.”
After a particularly challenging season of church leadership and growth, the weight of growth was weighing on the congregation. It happens when a congregation grows quickly. Needs begin to arise and your current systems aren’t strong enough to accommodate.
Consequently, you have to either send them away or change the system. We chose to change the system. I highly recommend, by the way, your congregation does the same.
But in this reorganization to keep reaching people and bringing them closer to Jesus, it’s easy to forget the reason behind all of this. Seems impossible I know.
But apparently, we’re not alone. Paul writes to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:14-16
14 Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, 15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 16 Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.
1 Timothy 3:14-16
New International Version
Paul had every intention of seeing his young protégé in person there in Ephesus. But Paul is very quick to lay those plans at the feet of the Sovereignty of God. If he were unable to make it in person, the letter he writes would be a summary to Timothy of the will of God.
In many ways, verses 14 and 15 are the purpose statement for the entire letter: instructions on Godly conduct as members of the Church of Jesus. It would be very easy for a critic of Timothy’s to dismiss the young man as either speaking out of his own authority or misunderstanding Paul. By the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, however, Paul leaves no room for either accusation.
The foundation of the Church (or a local congregation for that matter) is “the pillar and foundation of the truth”. Sound doctrine provided the framework for how the church operates internally and— of far more importance—in front of the eyes of an observing world.
Then Paul lays out what was probably an early worship song of the church in verse 16. And what a song it is!
- Jesus left His throne in Heaven to become a baby.
- By rising from the dead, The Holy Spirit verified Jesus as the Son of God and Lord of all.
- Angels witnessed His resurrection and return to Heaven.
- The message of salvation offered through Jesus is to be taken to the nations.
- Redemption changes the course of one’s life here and in the hereafter.
This is Paul’s “praise break”. What a beautiful reminder while Paul is in the “thick of it” with Timothy. He’d been writing about qualifications for church leadership and service—obviously a need in the congregations in Ephesus. It’s gotten pretty technical and then, he pauses and praises God.
As leaders in the Lord’s church, we can easily lose sight of why we do this. By-laws, meetings, agendas, staff, programs, funding, outreach events, planning, preaching, and the amazing regularity that Sundays come around all contribute to us taking our eyes off Jesus.
But 1 Timothy 3:14-16 won’t let us do that, will it?
As the Lord blesses our lives with seasons of challenge and growth—those often go hand in hand—we need to stop occasionally for “praise breaks”. We need to remember why we do this. Don’t just push through the grind; accept the gift.
In the crazy seasons, stop and put on your favorite worship song. Read 1 Timothy 3:14-16 again. Marvel at the Lord’s handiwork in creation by looking out of a window. Pray and thank Him for trusting you with so much.
The One who has called you also created you and is molding a masterpiece in you. Don’t forget your “praise breaks” where you get to look into the eyes of the Artist.
Joel has a podcast! Addressing church leadership issues, Joel dissects what he’s been taught and experienced. Subscribe below.
Interested in more like this? Consider Joel’s book: 31 Days of Spiritual Wisdom: A Month in the Proverbs. Moving through a selection of verses from a chapter of Proverbs for every day of the month, Joel walks readers through a journey of spiritual formation applicable to everyday life. The goal? Knowing how to apply the wisdom of Scripture so we grow in our faith, become wiser, and show the world the life-changing power of Jesus.