“Put in order what was left unfinished”: new eldership.
It is possible that when Paul passed through Crete briefly as a prisoner of Rome (Acts 27), God used him to plant the church there. Later, Paul sent his coworker Titus to continue the task of maturing the church. “The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.” (Titus 1:5).
Giving birth to a child and raising a child are two sacrificial tasks. However, the latter is much more difficult than the former. I see a parallel to this in church work. Planting a congregation is difficult and only possible with God’s help. The Recife mission effort has been abundantly blessed in this regard. Two dozen congregations in the metropolitan area and many more in the surrounding cities and towns have grown from this humble beginning. However, the maturing of these congregations has proven much more difficult.
God has given the church here many good men to lead in teaching and preaching, but only after twenty-three years was the first congregation (the downtown congregation) able to appoint an eldership. Then eighteen years went by before a second eldership was installed. This took place last year at the Peixinhos (Olinda) congregation. A northern suburb of Recife. Several weeks ago, a third congregation, the thirty-two-year-old São Lourenço church on Recife’s western edge, was able to appoint her first shepherds. There, three godly men accepted the responsibility of overseeing this community of faith (photo).
Besides the three congregations which now have elders, others are moving in this direction. Still, I have often asked myself how the Apostle Paul was able to appoint elders so quickly, when it took the Recife mission effort decades? My initial thought was that it was due to Paul being a much better church worker than any on our mission team. That, however, doesn’t explain how he and his team (Timothy, Titus, etc.) so quickly found men with all the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Perhaps they drew from the converts of synagogues, some of which had already served as elders for years. Whatever the reason, we look to the Head for help maturing the Body into His image.
Pray with us that God continues to raise up godly men to care for His flock. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Luke 10:2).