Celebrity Pastors, Discernment

Throwback Thursday ~ Stricter Judgment, Even for MY Favorite Teacher

Originally published September 29, 2017

It’s a funny thing that it’s so easy for us to see the far away faults and foibles of others, but the ones in our own hearts – the sins and hypocrisy we know most intimately – are constantly in our spiritual blind spot. Jesus understood this all too well and admonished us to make sure our own hands are clean before taking the tweezers to the mote in a sister’s eye.

Often, it’s not that we’re ignoring the plank that’s obscuring our vision, we’re just not even aware that it’s there. When I evaluate my own heart to confess my sins to the Lord, the ones that weigh heaviest on my spirit are not those that I know I’ve committed and need to repent of, it’s the ones I’m sure are lurking somewhere… but I can’t quite put my finger on them.

One of the subtle hypocrisies theologically orthodox, blameless and upright, discerning Christians can have trouble seeing in ourselves is our failure to hold our favorite pastors and teachers to the same biblical standards we apply to other pastors and teachers.

We correctly criticize Steven Furtick and Beth Moore for palling around with the likes of Joyce Meyer and T.D. Jakes, but when Lauren Chandler speaks at IF:Gathering several years in a row, co-hosts a summer Bible study with Beth Moore, and publicly declares her desire to meet Christine Caine, suddenly, it’s “touch not mine anointed” just because she’s married to our darling Matt1?

What if John MacArthur decided it would be a good idea to invite Joel Osteen to speak at ShepCon next year?

Or it came to light that Elisabeth Elliot preached to men?

Or you found out Paul Washer was a drunkard?

Would you make excuses for them? Sweep this stuff under the rug and continue to listen to their sermons and read their books without batting an eye?

Pastors and teachers don’t get a pass on sin just because they’re Reformed, or discerning, or have a virtually unblemished record of doctrinal soundness, or because they’re “one of the good guys.”

Pastors and teachers don’t get a pass on sin just because they’re Reformed, or discerning, or have a virtually unblemished record of doctrinal soundness, or because they’re “one of the good guys.” If they’re called to account, and they repent and strive toward holiness, hallelujah! That’s what God requires of all Christians – that we walk before Him blamelessly and bear fruit in keeping with repentance. But if they unrepentantly persist in sin despite biblical correction, there’s a problem there- with their own hearts, and with ours, if we knowingly turn a blind eye to their willful disobedience just because they’re our favorites.

God makes it clear throughout His Word that pastors, teachers, and others in positions of spiritual leadership bear a grave responsibility to set a godly example for those who look to them for teaching and guidance. And, in certain ways, God requires a higher standard for those in spiritual leadership than He requires of Christians He has not called to lead.

…No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the Lord’s food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things, but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries, for I am the Lord who sanctifies them…
Leviticus 21

…And Moses said to Aaron and to Eleazar and Ithamar his sons, “Do not let the hair of your heads hang loose, and do not tear your clothes, lest you die, and wrath come upon all the congregation; but let your brothers, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning that the Lord has kindled. And do not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you.” And they did according to the word of Moses…
Leviticus 10:1-11

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
1 Timothy 4:12

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.
Titus 2:7-8

not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
1 Peter 5:3

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
Philippians 3:17

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1

But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
Luke 12:45-48

you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 
Romans 2:21-23

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 
James 3:1

As the passages above allude to, sound doctrine, while crucial, is not God’s only requirement for pastors and teachers. They are also required to rebuke those who contradict sound doctrine (not befriend them or join them on the conference dais). And Paul outlines the numerous behavioral requirements for pastors, elders, and deacons not once but twice, even going so far as to say that deacons must “prove themselves blameless” and that “an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach.” Right theology does not excuse wrong behavior.

Right theology does not excuse wrong behavior.

Why, then, when God’s standards for those who lead are so high, are we quick to sweep aside unrepentant wrongdoing by the teachers we hold most dear, sometimes even holding them to lower standards than we would hold ourselves? “I would never preach to men, but I’ll give Teacher X a pass on it.” “There’s no way I’d partner with a false teacher, but it’s not a big deal that Preacher Y does it.”

The Jesus who says “be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” who says that even one sin is one sin too many, is not a God who is OK with His people glossing over disobedience. God wants sin dealt with, repented of, and forsaken, especially in those who lead, because receiving correction and repenting of sin sets a rare and phenomenal biblical example for Christians to follow.

The Jesus who says “be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” who says that even one sin is one sin too many, is not a God who is OK with His people glossing over disobedience.

Do we go off the deep end and reject a trustworthy teacher the first time she does something a little iffy? Of course not. But should we step back, keep a closer, more objective eye on her and her trajectory as time goes by to see if she corrects her course? Yes. Should we stop following her if she continues to dive deeper and deeper into sin with no signs of turning around? Even if she’s always been doctrinally sound? Even if she’s complementarian? Even if she attends a church with a good theological reputation? Even if we’ve enjoyed all of her books thus far? Definitely.

Let’s shed some light on those blind spots our favorite teachers occupy and let our highest loyalty be to Christ, His Word, and His standards for leadership.


¹Sadly (click link on Lauren Chandler’s name), since the original publication of this article, Matt Chandler should no longer be “our darling Matt,” either.

Titus Bible Study

Titus: God’s Order of Service ~ Lesson 4

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3

Read Titus 2:1-6

Questions to Consider

1. Review your notes from last week’s lesson. How does that passage carry over to, impact, and set the tone and context for this week’s passage?

2. Look back over the latter part of chapter 1 (9-16). How do 1:9 and 2:1 “bookend” this section on false teachers? How is the teaching of sound doctrine both the prevention and the cure for false doctrine? To what group of people (2:1-6) is Titus to teach sound doctrine?

3. In 1:5, Paul instructed Titus to “put what remained into order”. Examine the orderliness of the structure of 1:5-2:6. Notice the “first things, first” order of priority of Paul’s instructions. What is first, second, etc. on Paul’s “to do list” for Titus, and why?

  • 1:5b-
    • 1:6-9-
  • 1:10-16-
  • 2:1-
  • 2:2-
  • 2:3-5-
  • 2:6-

4. Compare the style and tone of 2:1-6 to 1:5-9. Titus 1:5-9 gives us the qualifications and character traits of an elder. Similarly, Titus 2:1-6 gives us what? Which three categories of church members are listed in verses 1-6?

  • 2-
  • 3-
  • 6-

Make a four column chart for each category: older men, older women, and younger men. In column 1, list each qualification or character trait of a godly, healthy church member. In column 2, explain this qualification / trait according to what you know of Scripture. In column 3, explain how this qualification / trait helps the church, makes it healthier, or contributes to its orderliness. In column 4, indicate whether or not this qualification / trait is the same or similar to a qualification / trait in either of the other two categories. Which are common to all three, and why?

When a church considers hiring a new pastor, we examine whether or not he meets the qualifications / traits of 1:5-9. In a similar way, should a church examine, when possible, the qualifications / traits in 2:1-6 of a potential new church member when considering whether or not to accept that person into membership? Why or why not? How might a church go about this? Does your church do this in some way?

We typically deem a pastor or elder “disqualified” for his office if he violates the qualifications / traits in 1:5-9. Consider the qualifications / traits of church members in 2:1-6 in light of the church discipline process in Matthew 18:15-20. How does a church that properly practices church discipline help to build and grow these godly qualifications / traits in church members? Should a church discipline a church member who violates the qualifications / traits in 2:1-6? Why or why not? How might a church covenant (for example) fit in to all of this?

5. Compare these requirements for elders, with the requirements for older men (2:2), older women (2:3-5) and younger men (2:6). For which groups does Paul give only character requirements? For which two groups does he give character and behavior / action requirements? Are any of these character and behavior requirements the same? Why? Which two groups does he address at greatest length? Why? For which two groups is teaching a requirement? Why?

Compare the pastor / elder leadership (over men and the entire church) and older women’s leadership and guidance (over younger women and children in the church) to the dynamic of husband as head and wife as helpmeet in a marriage. What are some ways the women of the church can serve as a “fit helper” to the pastors / elders and the church at large?

6. Often, the backlash against the extreme of antinomianism is the opposite extreme of legalism. This is what happened with the Pharisees during the intertestamental period after Israel returned from exile. There was such extreme concern about falling back into lawlessness that the Pharisees made up their own laws for God’s people that were even more restrictive than God’s laws. The same thing sometimes happens with Titus 2:3-5. There is such extreme concern about egalitarianism, that some Christians backlash against it with legalism. They twist Titus 2:3-5 to do so, basically saying that the only things women can teach other women are practical domestic skills, like cooking, cleaning, and child rearing. No Bible teaching, no discipling other women in the Scriptures, and so on. Is this what Titus 2:3-5 actually teaches? What does “teach what is good” mean? How is an older woman to teach a younger woman to “love her husband and children” without teaching her what the Bible instructs us about love? Or to be kind, self-controlled, or submissive to her husband without training her in the Scriptures about those things? I would encourage you to watch my teaching session Teach What is Good: Discipling Younger Women in the 21st Century (starting at 1:18:02 on the video) to learn more.


Homework

Consider again the paradigm of the women of the church serving as a fit helper to the pastors / elders and the church at large. How are the women of your church doing in this regard? Are they a loving and hard working Proverbs 31-type “helpmeet,” striving to nurture and do what’s best for the church? Or are they more like the quarrelsome wife of Proverbs?

Think, pray, and talk with other women and your pastor / elders about ways the women of your church could be a better “helpmeet”. Just as Paul prioritized what was most needful for the orderliness of the church in Crete, come to a wise and prayerful consensus on what is the highest priority issue that needs to be addressed for the women of your church, whether that’s learning the Bible better, hospitality, quelling gossip, servanthood, or whatever it might be. Rally a few other godly women, formulate a plan to address this issue, and, under your pastor’s / elders’ leadership, implement it.


Suggested Memory Verse

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Female pastor in 2 John?… Pronouns for pre-schoolers… Women’s ministry “how to”… Video studies for women?)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question.

I like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

Or maybe I answered your question already? Check out my article The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs to see if your question has been answered and to get some helpful resources.


Is the epistle of 2 John addressed to a female pastor? I just read a social media debate on this topic. One poster is focusing on the “children” in the verse, seeing them as God’s spiritual children (the church) and only considering the “chosen” or “elected” lady as the leader/pastor of the church. I took “chosen or elect” to mean she’s a “godly” woman, one predestined (chosen by God) like other believers.

Great question! It is so important to pay attention to details like this in Scripture.

No, 2 John is not addressed to a female “pastor”. If it were, it would be a stern letter of rebuke because such a woman would be in egregious sin and rebellion. The verses that are being twisted in an attempt to argue this fallacy are parts of verses 1, 4-5, and maybe a bit of 13:

The elder to the elect lady and her children … some of your children … I ask you, dear lady … The children of your elect sister greet you.

Excerpted from 2 John 1, 4-5, 13

You are definitely on the right track in your thinking. Some people think 2 John was written to a church and John was riffing off the “church as the Bride of Christ” metaphor by using this female personification of the church. “Elect” or “chosen lady” would then mean elect or chosen in the sense that the church is elect or chosen out of the world. This “lady’s” “children” would, metaphorically, be the members of that church.

Others think 2 John was written to a particular woman in the church, namely the woman who had offered her home as a place for the church to meet. Verse 10 would be a good fit with this idea, warning her that, though it was customary and good Christian hospitality to open her home to godly pastors and teachers who were traveling around and needed a place to stay, that she should not extend hospitality to those preaching a false gospel. This individual woman would be elect or chosen in the sense that every individual Christian is elect or chosen. Her “children” would be understood to be her own biological children.

Personally, I can see where a good argument could be made for both of these perspectives, and that maybe John had both in mind as God moved him to write this letter.

But whichever perspective you lean toward, one thing we know for sure is that it was not written to a female “pastor”. John would not have commended someone that Paul’s epistles rebuke. That would make Scripture contradict itself, and, thus, God contradict Himself, since He is the author of Scripture. And we know that can’t happen.


How would you respond (or how have you responded) when someone prefers to be called by the opposite gender?

I had a man correct my daughter (she’s only 2, almost 3) today because she referred to him as “he”. I told him out of deep love for him I could not in good conscience refer to him as “her,” but how do I explain that to an almost 3 year old? How have you informed your kids about this? Would love any feedback you have on this.

I do not envy you young moms who are having to deal with things like this with your small children. My youngest child is 19, so this was not an issue when he or any of his older siblings were toddlers or even young teens. Isn’t it amazing how fast the world has plunged headlong into this depth of sin?

I think you handled the situation just fine, and with a two or three year old who likely had zero memory of this incident the next day, you probably don’t even need to broach the subject. But if you do, I would suggest keeping your focus broad and shallow. “Honey, you need to whisper to me when you have a question about another person, or wait until later to ask. That person’s feelings might get hurt, and we don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings if we can avoid it.”.

Honestly, for a two or three year old, even the part about hurting someone else’s feelings is going to go right over her head (as is the “wait until later” part, and she’s also unlikely to remember the “whisper to me” part for the future). Children that young rarely have the capacity to grasp the concept that another person even has feelings. They certainly aren’t going to understand the concept of adults “identifying” as the opposite sex. This is really not something you need to worry about trying to explain to her at this young age, and no amount of talking or explaining is going to keep a pre-schooler from verbalizing any and every thought that comes to mind. Ask any parent – that’s just what they do at that age.

In another year or two, if you encounter a person like this again and your daughter asks you why that man is dressed like a woman, you might say something like,

“Well, you know how sometimes you think you’d like to be a dog or a fairy princess instead of a little girl so that’s what you pretend to be? Do you ever see Mommy doing that? No? That’s because when we grow up, the Bible tells us we’re to put childish ways behind us. We’re to be happy with the way God made us and do our best to love Him and serve Him as the person He created us to be.

It’s really sad, but sometimes a boy [or vice versa for a girl] who doesn’t know God will grow up and think he would rather be a lady than a man, kind of like you think you’d rather be a fairy princess or a dog than a little girl. But instead of acting like a grown up and asking God to help him be happy with the way He made him, the man will dress up like a lady and pretend to be a lady. Let’s take a moment to pray for him, that He will come to know Jesus and be happy that God made him a man.”

Additional Resources:

The Mailbag: What’s In a Name?

pride, pronouns & prodigals at A Word Fitly Spoken


My church is looking at getting our women’s ministry off the ground and I was asked to be on the team. Do you have any pointers for what works best for your women’s ministry? I definitely want the focus to be growing women in the Word, but I’m unsure how to go about structuring the meeting.

I’m going to give you some resources below that can help jump start your brainstorming, but first a few very simple suggestions:

  • Trust God and pray for wisdom and direction. God promises to give them to you if you ask, so why not take Him up on His offer?
  • Gather your ladies together (or create a survey and email it out) and ask them what sort of structure or class would be most helpful to them.
  • With their feedback in hand, talk things over with your pastor. He should be able to give you some guidance that’s tailor made for the ladies at your particular church.

Additional Resources:

Teach What Is Good: Discipling Younger Women in the 21st Century– Listen in to my teaching session from last year’s OHCW conference. In fact, you might find all of last year’s sessions to be helpful (you’ll find the links below the video).

All Word and No Play: The Importance of Fun and Fellowship in the Doctrinally Sound Church

Guest Post: Building a Biblically Healthy Women’s Ministry (by a pastor, for pastors)


The small church I pastor in the process of launching a women’s ministry and I’m curious if there are any specific video studies led by women that you recommend. I hope to compose a menu of studies for them. Thanks for your assistance.

In case anyone is confused, this email is from a (male) pastor, not a woman pretending to be a pastor. Just wanted to clear that up, there. :0)

Brother pastor, my husband is a retired worship pastor, and God always had us at small churches too, so I not only sympathize with the challenges small churches face, but I also have a lot of experience with women’s ministry at small churches.

And still, I encourage women’s ministries (men’s ministries too, if that were my wheelhouse) not to use what I call “canned” studies (workbooks, videos, etc.) but to study and teach straight from the text of Scripture itself. That’s the primary reason why, on principle, I don’t make recommendations for any women’s Bible study materials other than the Bible itself. The second reason I don’t recommend “canned” studies is that, as you have probably discovered in your search, the overwhelming majority of women’s “Bible” studies are authored by false teachers and consist mainly of fluff and false doctrine. Even if I wanted to make recommendations, it would be nearly impossible.

What I would recommend instead is that you find at least one woman, and maybe up to five or six women, should your church be so blessed, who are spiritually mature and seem to have the gift of teaching, and begin training them to rightly handle and teach Scripture to other women, since this is the biblical instruction we’re given.

As they’re learning, you may wish to take them through or have them practice teaching some of the Bible studies I’ve written as “training wheels” to help them learn. My studies (all free) are designed to teach women how to study straight from the text of Scripture in a “learn by doing” way. Once they get the hang of it, they’ll never have to rely on anyone else’s materials again, even mine! Plus, they’ll eventually be able to teach other women how to teach the Bible. Here are some other resources I think will help:

Additional Resources:

Bible Studies

McBible Study and the Famine of God’s Word

4 Ways We’re Getting Women’s Discipleship Wrong, and How We Can Get it Right!

The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?

The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

Teach What Is Good: Discipling Younger Women in the 21st Century (Session 2 on video)

How to Study the Bible – and How Not To


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Titus Bible Study

Titus: God’s Order of Service ~ Lesson 3

Previous Lessons: 1, 2

Read Titus 1:5-16

Questions to Consider

1. Review your notes from last week’s lesson. How does that passage carry over to, impact, and set the tone and context for this week’s passage?

2. Review question 6 from lesson 2: Take a look at v.5. Why did Paul leave Titus in Crete? What does Paul mean by “put what remained into order”? What’s a phrase we might use in today’s vernacular to say the same thing? Why did Titus need to appoint elders “in every town”? (You might want to review your notes from lesson 1 – link above.) How would appointing elders have given the churches in Crete structure and order?

3. Compare verses 5-9 with 1 Timothy 3:1-7. What word is used for the church leadership position in Titus 1:5? In 1 Timothy 3:1? Considering that Paul wrote both of these epistles and both of these passages are very similar in nature, is it fair to assume that these terms mean the same thing? What do we typically call an elder, overseer, or bishop in the local church today? Compare these terms in Titus 1:5 and 1 Timothy 3:1 in several reliable translations noting the footnotes and looking up the cross-references. What is a pastor / elder / overseer / bishop, according to Scripture? What does he do, according to these passages?

(If you have worked through my study on 1&2 Timothy, you may wish to review your notes on question 3, Lesson 4 for the following question.)

Make a 4-column chart. In the first column of each chart, list each qualification in Titus 1:6-9 and 1 Timothy 3:1-7 for the office of pastor / elder. In the second column, explain what that qualification means. (For example: What does it mean to be “sober-minded” or “hospitable”?) In the third column, explain why this qualification is important in the character of the man and/or in carrying out the duties of the office. In the fourth column, place a check mark if this is a requirement for pastor / elder in both passages. Which of the qualifications are common to both passages? Which are different? Why might Paul have included certain qualifications in one passage, but not the other? How is it beneficial to the church for men in the office of pastor / elder to have these qualifications?

Note the qualification “above reproach” in both the Titus and Timothy passages, paying special attention to the way Paul “bookends” Titus 1:6-7a with this term. How do all the qualifications listed between the two “above reproach bookends” (and after “above reproach” in Timothy) help us to understand what this term means? God could have tied “above reproach” to a man’s business dealings, the community’s or church’s opinion of him, or even his own personal character displayed to others, but what is “above reproach” most closely tied to in both of these passages? Why? Think about this statement: A man can hide his heart from others, but he can’t hide his family. Do agree or disagree in relation to the qualification of being above reproach?

4. How would you break down or outline the types or areas of qualifications in the Titus passage?

  • 6-7a –
  • 7b-8 –
  • 9 –

Why do you think God’s doctrinal requirements come last, after family requirements and personal character? Does it matter how sound and perfect a man’s doctrine is if he doesn’t have a godly heart that’s fleshed out in the fruit of his family and his character displayed to others? How would you answer the question of 1 Timothy 3:5: “for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?”

5. Note the “he must” vs. “he must not” qualifications in 6-9. How do these groups of qualifications paint the overall picture of a godly man versus a worldly man? Connect the overall picture of of the godly man above reproach in this passage to the Old Testament concept of blamelessness. We tend to break this passage down and evaluate a man in a “micro” sense on each individual trait, but could another purpose of this passage be to demonstrate the general “macro” type of man who’s qualified for the office rather than a man who is absolutely perfect in each trait mentioned?

6. What are the three doctrinal requirements in verse 9? How does “holding firm to the trustworthy word as taught” equip a pastor to both give instruction in sound doctrine and to rebuke those who contradict it? Some pastors only give instruction in sound doctrine. They refuse or are afraid to rebuke sin in the church, carry out church discipline, biblically address controversial issues (homosexuality, women preaching, etc.), or clearly teach against false teachers and false doctrine. Carefully consider verse 9 again. Are such men biblically qualified to be pastors?

7. Read verse 9 as the introduction to verses 10-16. Note that verse 10 begins with the word “for,” which, in this context means “because”. Why, according to verse 10-16 must a pastor hold to sound doctrine, instruct in sound doctrine, and rebuke those who contradict it? Connect the phrases “they must be silenced” (11) and “rebuke them sharply” (13) back to “rebuke those who contradict it” (9).

Consider the “some pastors only…” from question 6 above and verse 9’s admonition to rebuke those who contradict sound doctrine. How does Paul, in 10-16, set an example of how to “do” verse 9 for such pastors as well as for Titus?

8. Examine verses 10-16. What are the problems the false teachers – and/or the church members in Crete who believe their false doctrine – creating in the church? In what ways are these problems similar to the division and dissension created by false teachers and their followers in the church today?

Many professing Christians today consider it “unloving” or “unchristlike” to do exactly what this passage teaches – rebuke false teachers and their followers. Look carefully at the stringent language in this passage. What are some of the words and phrases these professing Christians would object to as “unloving” or “unchristlike” if someone applied them to false teachers today? How does God – Who, remember, is the One who breathed out these words – demonstrate via this passage, that it is His idea and instruction to use stark and stringent language in dealing biblically with false teachers and those who willfully and unrepentantly follow them?

How does instruction in sound doctrine and rebuking those who contradict it eradicate false doctrine, false teachers, and the division they create, and help create orderliness in the church’s fellowship and worship?


Homework

How does an orderly church structure (leadership, hierarchy, etc.) lead to orderly worship? This week, begin to consider how the order and structure in church leadership that God calls for in Titus 1:5-16 affects the order in the worship service that God calls for in 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. Also, compare and contrast the order and structure of the Old Testament system of worship – the leadership, feasts and festivals, rules for sacrifices and offerings, the architecture and design of the tabernacle and temple, etc. – compared to the order and structure of the New Testament church and worship.

Because order and structure in the church is a continuous theme throughout Titus, you may wish to make these comparisons (with 1 Corinthians 14 and with the OT system) each week of the study.


Suggested Memory Verse

Church, Discernment

Throwback Thursday ~ Nine Reasons Discerning Women Are Leaving Your Church

Originally published July 24, 2015

Earlier this week, Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay, pubished a blog article entitled Six Reasons Why Women May Be Leaving Your Church. Although I am not particularly a fan of Dr. Rainer (due to his allowing materials from false teachers to be sold at LifeWay), I thought this article was a good one, and I agreed with several of the issues he raised, especially, that these issues need to be addressed by church leadership.

As a ministry wife and someone in the field of women’s ministry myself, I, too, have noticed women leaving the church. Not just women in general, but a certain subset of church-attending ladies: discerning women. While Scripture is pretty clear that we can expect women (and men) who are false converts to eventually fall away from the gathering of believers, why are godly, genuinely regenerated women who love Christ, His word, and His church, leaving their local churches?

While Scripture is pretty clear that we can expect false converts to eventually fall away, why are godly, genuinely regenerated women who love Christ, His word, and His church, leaving their local churches?

1.
Eisegetical or otherwise unbiblical preaching

Discerning women don’t want to hear pastors twist God’s word. The Bible is not about us, our problems, and making all our hopes and dreams come true. We don’t want to hear seeker-driven or Word of Faith false doctrine. We don’t need self-improvement motivational speeches or a list of life tips to follow. We want to hear a pastor rightly handle God’s word from a trustworthy translation and simply exegete the text.

2.
The worship hour has become a variety show

Skits, guest stars, movie clips, dance routines, rock concerts, elaborate sets, light shows, and smoke machines. We didn’t sign on for Saturday Night Live on Sunday. This is supposed to be church. Get rid of all that junk, turn the lights on, give us solid preaching, prayer, and some theologically sound songs we can actually sing, and maybe we’ll stick around.

We didn’t sign on for Saturday Night Live on Sunday. This is supposed to be church.

3.
Women in improper places of church leadership

The Bible could not be more clear that women are not to be pastors, instruct men in the Scriptures, or hold authority over men in other capacities in the church. If your church has a female pastor, worship leader, or elders, or if women are teaching and leading men in Sunday school, small groups, or from the platform in the worship service, or if women are heading up certain committees, departments, or ministries which place them in improper authority over men, you’re disobeying Scripture, and we don’t want to help you do that by attending your church.

4.
Children are being entertained, not trained

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of play time or crafts for younger children, but we want our children trained in the Scriptures, not entertained for a couple of hours. We want their teachers to open God’s word and read and explain it to them at a level they can understand. We want them memorizing verses, learning to pray, and demonstrating an age-appropriate comprehension of the gospel. We want them to understand that church is joyful, yet, serious, not a Jesus-laced party at Chuck E. Cheese. We need church to bolster the Scriptural training we’re giving our kids at home.

5.
Women’s “Bible” Studies

The majority (and I don’t use that term flippantly) of churches holding women’s Bible studies are using materials written by Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Joyce Meyer, Lysa TerKeurst, Sarah Young, and others who teach unbiblical ideas and false doctrine. Not minor denominational differences of opinion. Not secondary and tertiary unimportant issues that can be overlooked. False doctrine. While we long to study God’s Word with other women, discerning women will not sacrifice sound doctrine nor the integrity of Scripture to do so.

While we long to study God’s Word with other women, discerning women will not sacrifice sound doctrine nor the integrity of Scripture to do so.

6.
Ecumenism

Is your church partnering with other “churches” whose orthodoxy and/or orthopraxy are at odds with Scripture? “Churches” which approve of homosexuality or female pastors, or which hold to an unbiblical soteriology (grace plus works, baptismal regeneration, Mary as co-redemptrix with Christ, etc.)? Are you partnering with those who deny the biblical Christ altogether such as Muslims, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hindus, Mormons, or Buddhists? Discerning women know Scripture forbids yoking ourselves to unbelievers and we want no part of it.

7.
Ageism

Look around at your pastor and staff, your lay leadership, your music team, the “face” of your church. How many of those people are over 40? Usually, discernment and spiritual maturity come through walking with the Lord over many years, yet, increasingly, by design, churches are run by twentysomething pastors, staff, and other leadership, who are often spiritually immature and/or lack the wisdom and life experience that come with age. The staff is often specifically structured this way in order to attract young people to the church. The counsel and wisdom mature, godly men and women have to offer is brushed off as old fashioned, and middle aged and older church members feel alienated and unwanted. While there are those among the twentysomething set who are godly and growing into maturity, discerning women value the wisdom and teaching of their godly elders.

8.
The “troublemaker” label

Discerning women who see unbiblical things happening in their churches and stand up for what God’s Word says about biblical ecclesiology and teaching are often vilified and labeled as troublemakers. We are called haters, threats to unity, complainers, gossips, negative, and a myriad of other scornful names. All this for wanting things done according to Scripture. Can you blame us for shaking the dust off our high heels and leaving?

Discerning women are often vilified and labeled as troublemakers. Can you blame us for shaking the dust off our high heels and leaving?

9.
Spineless or stiff-necked pastors

Discerning women have little respect for, and find themselves unable to submit to the authority of pastors who see people in their churches acting overtly sinful or propagating false teaching yet are so afraid of confrontation that they will not set things right. By the same token, we cannot continue to attend a church in which we bring scriptural evidence of false teaching or sin to the pastor and he outright denies the biblical truth we present to him. We cannot be members of churches in which pastors will not submit to Scripture or carry out biblical mandates.

Frequently, the discerning women you see tearfully leaving your church have been there for years. Sometimes they leave your church because it was never doctrinally sound to begin with, and God has opened their eyes to this as they grow and mature in Christ. Sometimes they leave because false doctrine and unbiblical practices have crept in and taken over a church that was once a refuge of trustworthy biblical teaching. Either way, these things should not be.

Maybe it’s not that discerning women are leaving the church, but that the church is leaving them.

Maybe it’s not that discerning women are leaving the church, but that the church is leaving them.


Additional Resources

Rock Your Role articles

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