You’ve heard the maxim, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” There is much truth to this statement, and no one modeled teamwork better than the apostle Paul.
Over the years at Lancaster Baptist, I have preached verse-by-verse through many books of the Bible. This past Sunday, I began a new preaching series through Romans. A few years ago, we did three series through the pastoral epistles: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. (The expanded outlines for these pastoral epistles are now in a book, set to release next week as part of the Striving Together Study Library.)
Throughout Paul’s pastoral epistles, we repeatedly see the necessity and value Paul placed on teamwork in ministry. We catch a glimpse of this in the closing verses of Titus:
When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter. Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them. And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful. All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. (Titus 3:12–15)
The first Sunday night message I preached as the pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church was about the importance of teamwork, inviting our new church family to join with me in “striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; (Philippians 1:27)
Teamwork should be more than something we talk about. It should be more than a stated value among Christians serving the Lord together in the local church. It should be something we proactively and personally nurture.
From Paul’s concluding instructions in Titus, we learn three essential characteristics of effective team ministry.
There are rarely awards or recognition given for faithfulness, but no great work for God happens without it.There are rarely awards or recognition given for faithfulness, but no great work for God happens without it. Click To Tweet
Paul mentions two faithful servants: Artemas and Tychicus—men whom Paul trusted to take Titus’ place of leadership in Crete while Titus left to visit Paul. The only mention of Artemas in the New Testament is in this verse. Yet, it seems reasonable to assume that he had a testimony of consistent servant leadership over the years. And so it is in every healthy local church—there are spiritually-strong leaders who, though not often mentioned or recognized, are faithfully serving the Lord.In every healthy local church, there are spiritually-strong leaders who, though not often mentioned or recognized, are faithfully serving the Lord. Click To Tweet
Tychicus, the other of these two men, is first mentioned in Acts while Paul was in Ephesus during his third missionary journey.
And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. (Acts 20:4)
Tychicus’s willingness to travel with Paul shows his servant’s heart. Travel in the ancient world was far more difficult and dangerous than in our day. The trip they were currently would have been arduous, and it would take Tychicus away from his family, friends, and church for a long time.
Tychicus was also with Paul during his imprisonment in Rome.
All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord: (Colossians 4:7)
And Paul sent Tychicus to fill in for Timothy so Timothy could visit Paul.
And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. (2 Timothy 4:12)
Tychicus was faithfully by Paul’s side, whether in missionary journeys or in prison. He served Paul by filling pulpits and delivering the epistle to the Colossians.
Although Artemas and Tychicus’s opportunities and responsibilities were different, and although one of them is mentioned more frequently in the New Testament, both were necessary to the work of the Lord and the ministry of the apostle Paul.
Whatever your role is in serving the Lord, faithfulness is an essential discipline for fulfilling your responsibilities.Whatever your role is in serving the Lord, faithfulness is an essential discipline for fulfilling your responsibilities. Click To Tweet
The fellowship that Paul shared with his co-laborers was edifying and encouraging. In these verses, he mentions desiring fellowship with Titus as he instructed Titus to “be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis.”
Paul’s intention to meet Titus in Nicopolis sometime after being released from prison in Rome would have been a continuation of his evangelistic ministry. And he wanted Titus with him for it.
Paul also instructed Titus to bring Zenas and Apollos on their way, apparently on the way to Nicopolis. Thus, Titus and these two men would enjoy fellowship as well.
It’s easy for teams to move to extremes in fellowship: Some Christians so value fellowship that they rarely get around to action. Others so value productivity that they overlook the necessity of fellowship in the life of a believer. Here, Paul encouraged fellowship while serving together. In fact, one of the best ways to build spiritual friendships is through serving together.One of the best ways to build spiritual friendships is through serving together. Click To Tweet
As you serve the Lord with others, remember to invest in relationships and to enjoy fellowship in the Lord with others on your team.
As Paul closed this epistle, he gave a final challenge to Titus and the “team” of believers there at the churches in Crete, exhorting them to fruitfulness.
As important as faithfulness and fellowship are, we must also strive for fruitfulness.As important as faithfulness and fellowship are, we must also strive for fruitfulness. Click To Tweet
Fruitfulness can be hard to measure because the fruit of our faithfulness doesn’t always show up immediately. It doesn’t always even show up in our lifetime.
But Paul gives a particular area of fruitfulness here that we can focus on—maintaining good works. As we maintain good works, we are good witnesses for Christ.
We know from Ephesians 2:8–9 that our good works do not save us. Only God’s grace through the sacrifice of Christ saves. Yet, this same passage tells us that God did save us “unto good works.”
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
We don’t do good works to be saved but because we are saved.
Look back to some of the ministry goals God has place on your heart—perhaps even the ones that you wrote down at the beginning of this year. Remember, these aren’t just items on a checklist. Rather, they are good works to which God has called you in which to be fruitful. Don’t be too quick then to give up on them. Assess, reevaluate, determine next actionable items, and set checkpoints throughout the year to gauge your fruitfulness.
Effective Team Ministry
Whether it’s the first century or the twenty-first century, an effective team ministry is crucial for the advancement of the gospel as you serve with your church family. How are you doing in applying these principles?
- Faithfulness is critical: be in your place.
- Fellowship is significant: value relationships.
- Fruitfulness is needful: be diligent in acting on the opportunities God has given to you.
The Pastoral Epistles expanded outlines and comments releases from Striving Together April 24, 2022. You can preorder now at strivingtogether.com. Use code PC20 anytime before April 24 for 20% off the preorder of this new resource.