Titus Series: Developing an Effective Team Ministry (Tit 3:12-15)

Updated: Sep 29



Developing an Effective Team Ministry


When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. Make every effort to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; make sure they have what they need. Here is another way that our people can learn to engage in good works to meet pressing needs and so not be unfruitful. Everyone with me greets you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.

Titus 3:12-15 (NET)



How can we develop an effective team ministry? One of the things that is clear about Paul’s ministry is that he was no lone ranger. Though extremely gifted, he relied on others to complete the tasks God had called him to. At the end of his letters, he commonly greeted friends in the cities he wrote to and mentioned those with him. In fact, at the end of Romans, he mentioned thirty-three people by name. Likewise, at the end of Titus, he mentions some of the members of his team. In Acts 9, Christ had explicitly called him to be the apostle to the Gentiles, which was an impossible task. However, by partnering with others, he reached much of the known world at that time for Christ.


By considering Paul’s parting comments in Titus 3:12-15, we can discern principles about developing an effective team to complete the ministry God has called us to. This certainly has applications for the local church and churches working together to reach a city or region, but it also has applications for personal ministries or visions God may call us to. If we are born again, God has enlisted us on his team, given us spiritual gifts, and commissioned us to build his church and reach the world. However, we can’t do this alone, like Paul, we need to develop an effective team of like-minded believers to complete God’s call on our lives individually and corporately.


Big Question: In Titus 3:12-15, what principles can be discerned from Paul’s ministry partners about developing an effective team ministry?


To Develop an Effective Team Ministry, We Must Recognize and Submit to Our Leaders and at Times Be Willing to Lead


When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.

Titus 3:12


As mentioned, Paul worked with a team of ministers; however, like with most teams, there is often a leader among equals. Paul, as an apostle, clearly fulfilled that role, as he was going to send either Artemas or Tychicus to replace Titus at Crete. Sometimes, God may call us to lead even if only temporarily. At times, we will be the oldest or have the most experience, and therefore be the most likely to fulfill a leadership position. Even if leadership is not our gifting, we must trust that God’s grace will be enough for us, as his power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor 12:9). In addition, like when God called Moses to lead Israel, often he will supply us with an Aaron to help with our weaknesses in leadership. God’s will is perfect even when he puts us in uncomfortable situations.


If we have the gift of leadership, we must be willing to humbly step up to serve, even if it’s not in the primary leadership position. However, we must always remember that biblical leadership is not ruling, it is serving and putting others first. In Mark 9:35, Christ said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Also, in 1 Peter 5:3, Peter said this to his fellow elders serving in churches throughout the Roman Empire, “And do not lord it over those entrusted to you, but be examples to the flock.” It is good to remember that our most effective leadership quality will be our character as we lead by example. When we work hard, communicate well with others, are honest and fair, it will inspire those under us. That is the most effective leadership quality, not just being the primary decision-maker or vision setter. If one sets a great vision but has bad character, everything falls apart, as we lose the trust of those we aim to lead.


Followership


For most of us in being part of an effective team, we must humbly submit to and support those in leadership, so that the organization can function properly. Artemas and Tychicus were clearly humble people who were willing to be second, as they submitted to Paul. There was no shame in that. They submitted to God’s ordained leadership and were willing to go serve in Crete if sent. We don’t know who Artemas was. He is only mentioned here in Titus; however, it is clear that he was a faithful pastor/teacher who would do a good job serving in Crete. Tychicus is mentioned five times in Scripture (cf. Acts 20:4; Eph 6:21–22; Col 4:7; Tit 3:12; 2 Tim 4:12). He was one of Paul’s travel companions (Acts 20:4) and probably brought the letters of Ephesians (Eph 6:21-22), Colossians (Col 4:7), and Philemon to the recipients (Col 4:7-9, Philemon 1).


As we consider Artemas and Tychicus, we must ask ourselves, “Are we willing to be second? Are we willing to be followers?” Often in schools and organizations, there is a great focus on developing leadership skills; however, followership is just as important, if not more important than leadership. Great followers do most of the work and, oftentimes, don’t necessarily need much leadership or oversight. Great followers often become great leaders. Sometimes, being a good follower is difficult when the leaders aren’t doing their jobs well or even worse lack character; however, good followers make it easy for leaders by encouraging them, praying for them, and supporting them. They don’t criticize or tear them down when they fail. The author of Hebrews said this in Hebrews 13:17:


Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls and will give an account for their work. Let them do this with joy and not with complaints, for this would be no advantage for you.


Also, Romans 13:1-2 says,


Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. So the person who resists such authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur judgment


We must recognize God as sovereign over our leaders (cf. Prov 21:1), even bad leaders, and we must submit to them and honor them. The only time, we should disobey them is when they tell us to do something immoral or clearly against Scripture (Acts 5:29). But, even then, we should still honor them. First Peter 2:17 says, “Honor all people, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the king.” Peter said this to Christians who were being persecuted by the Roman emperor, and yet, they were still called to submit to him and honor him. Likewise, in effective teams, members support, encourage, and pray for their leaders (1 Tim 2:1-2, Gal 6:6). They recognize that their leaders are not perfect, but instead of tearing them down when they fail, they try to uplift and encourage them so they can be the best leaders possible. First Peter 4:8 says, “love covers a multitude of sins.”


To develop an effective ministry team, we must ask ourselves, in church, work, family, or other ministries, “Are we being good followers? If in leadership, are we doing our best to serve and uplift others and complete our God-given tasks?”


Application Question: Why is leadership so difficult? What are some of the most important leadership characteristics and why? In what ways is God calling you to grow as a leader or potentially step up into a leadership position? How is God calling you to grow in followership by better supporting your leaders in the home, church, work, and government arenas? How is God calling you to pray for both the leaders and followers in your church, ministry, or workplace?


To Develop an Effective Team Ministry, We Must Be Willing to Perform Any Task or Go Any Place, including Difficult Ones


When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.

Titus 3:12


In doing team ministry, we may not always get the tasks, workers, people, or assignments we prefer. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 12:18, Paul describes how God gifts us and places us in the body as he desires. He says, “But as a matter of fact, God has placed each of the members in the body just as he decided.” Sometimes, we may end up in families, churches, cities, or even nations we don’t desire; but God’s plan is perfect. With Artemas and Tychicus, one of them would replace Titus in Crete. Crete, at that time, was one of the most difficult places in the ancient world. The verb form of the name Crete started to be used as a term for lying—to cretize. One of their own philosophers said this about them: “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12). In addition, the Cretan churches had many false teachers and rebels in them. In Titus 1:10-11, Paul said this about Crete:


For there are many rebellious people, idle talkers, and deceivers, especially those with Jewish connections, who must be silenced because they mislead whole families by teaching for dishonest gain what ought not to be taught.


Not all ministries are easy, and many of them might be located in places that we would not prefer to deal with culturally, weather-wise, or based off conveniences. However, in effective teams, people are willing to go and serve in the places with the most need, which are often dark places. In Luke 14:27, Christ said this, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” The cross was a symbol of death, and therefore, we should expect that in serving Christ and doing the ministry he has called us to, it may at times be difficult and uncomfortable. We must be willing to take up our cross to follow Christ, which for some will include paying the ultimate price of death while serving in some difficult and unreached ground. However, someone must do it. Tychicus and Artemus were willing to go anywhere and do anything to serve the Lord and reach people, and we must be willing to do the same.


In discerning where the Lord might have us serve, we must ask questions like, “How has the Lord gifted me? Where do I want to go? Where is the most need? And where is the open door?” Though difficult places are not desirable, often by God’s grace, he works on our hearts to prepare us to go. In Philippians 2:12-13, Paul says God works in us to will and do of his good pleasure. Yes, we must be willing to go where there is a need and where God calls, but also, where God calls us, he will typically will slowly or even quickly work on our hearts so that we desire God’s will. No doubt, God had done that with Tychicus’ and Artemus’ hearts, so they were ready to go wherever God sent, including serving the difficult ministry in Crete. Let us pray that we will be willing to go wherever there is a need, even if it means being uncomfortable.


Application Question: In an effective team ministry, why is it important for people to perform any task or go any place, including difficult ones? Share a time when God placed you in an undesirable place or called you to a difficult duty. What positive things did you learn from that season? How can we grow in grace to serve anywhere, including difficult ministries?


To Develop an Effective Team Ministry, We Must Enlist People with Diverse Skillsets


Make every effort to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; make sure they have what they need.

Titus 3:13


Apparently, Zenas and Apollos were on a ministry trip that would head through Crete. Paul told Titus to help them on their way and to make sure they had everything needed. This is the only time Zenas is mentioned in the Bible. He is a legal professional who was using his skills for ministry. It’s not clear whether he was a Hebrew or Roman lawyer. Some think he was probably a Roman lawyer since his name is Roman. Maybe, he went on the missionary journey to use his legal skills to help persecuted Christians at their destination while discipling believers and reaching out to unbelievers along the way. Apollos was a very gifted Jewish preacher from Alexandria in Egypt. While in Ephesus, he effectively refuted the Jewish teachers as he sought to prove that Jesus was the Christ. However, he was only aware of John’s baptism, so Priscilla and Aquilla pulled him aside and more accurately taught him the way (Acts 18). This demonstrated that though he was unusually gifted in ministry, he also was very humble and able to learn from others. As a team, Zenas and Apollos were doing some type of traveling ministry together.


This reminds us that effective ministry teams not only need full-time vocational ministry leaders like Apollos who probably earned his living from ministry, but also lay leaders and bi-vocational leaders like Zenas who probably earned his living from his legal activities. Likewise, Luke was a minister but also a doctor. Paul, though an apostle, at times, earned his living as a tentmaker. Joseph and Daniel were public officials who were faithful witnesses of the true God in government. Abraham and his children were shepherds. Noah was a farmer. God does not only call people into full-time ministry, like pastors and missionaries, but he also calls people to secular vocations in education, business, government, law, healthcare, etc., to be lights to the world.


In considering Zenas and Apollos specifically, we must remember that God wants to use all our skills and abilities to build his kingdom. We should not limit ourselves to thinking we must be full-time pastors or missionaries. In fact, those in Scripture who were full-time priests and ministry leaders often became corrupt, like the priests, prophets, and Pharisees. Most of the effective ministers in Scripture also served in a secular field. Therefore, we should not look down on secular work. All fields are to be used for the kingdom of God. However, like Zenas, we must seek to excel both in our career and in the church, including at times going on missions and supporting those who are missionaries. Those in full-time church ministry must be sure to never lose focus on the world that must be reached. And those serving in secular careers must make sure to never lose focus of the church to which they also have a duty and gifts to use to build it up. Both ministries have temptations we must be careful of.


With that said, to have an effective team, people with various gifts and abilities must be enlisted to build up the church and reach the world. No skill or trade is too insignificant to offer God. He only needs a few loaves and fishes to feed a multitude. An effective team is full of people with diverse gifts, skills, and abilities. They just need wisdom on how to incorporate them in building up the body of Christ and reaching the world around them. English teaching ability can be used as an outreach to those lacking that skill. Human resources skills, like building resumes, can be used to help those looking for jobs. Fitness and sports skills can especially be used to reach out to youth. Handyman skills can be used as an outreach to those who need things fixed in their house. God can use them all, but we must offer those skills to him and be ready to use them when the door opens. Effective ministries have people with diverse skillsets.


Application Question: How have you seen people use “secular skills” to build up the church and reach the world? Why is it important to not minimize secular work nor overly exalt ministry work as far as its effectiveness in serving the kingdom? How can believers keep the balance between ministering to both spheres—the world and the church?


To Develop an Effective Team Ministry, We Must Rejoice in and Promote Others’ Ministries Instead of Being Jealous of Them


Make every effort to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; make sure they have what they need.

Titus 3:13


With Paul’s promotion of Apollos, it must stand out because their ministries were at times looked at as competitors. In the Corinthian church where both Paul and Apollos had ministries, there were people in the congregation saying, “I am with Paul” and others were saying, “I am with Apollos” (1 Cor 3:4). As mentioned, Apollos was known as an “eloquent speaker” and “well-versed in the scriptures” (Acts 18:24), while some in Corinth mocked Paul and his speaking ability. Second Corinthians 10:10 describes some of their mocking, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but his physical presence is weak and his speech is of no account.” Though Apollos was eloquent and at times looked at as a rival minister, Paul was not jealous of his gifts. In 1 Corinthians 3:5-8, Paul said this about their ministry:


What is Apollos, really? Or what is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, and each of us in the ministry the Lord gave us. I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow. So neither the one who plants counts for anything, nor the one who waters, but God who causes the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters work as one, but each will receive his reward according to his work.


Paul, though an apostle, recognized Apollos on the same level as him. They were both servants that God had used in Corinth. However, they were not to be exalted or pitted against one another since only God could bless their work; otherwise, their labor would be unprofitable. In fact, Paul saw them as teammates. In describing them, he said, “The one who plants and the one who waters work as one” (1 Cor 3:8).


Unfortunately, jealousy often kills many ministries and relationships in general. While Paul was in prison, some were jealous of him and talking bad about him. In Philippians 1:15, 17-18, he said:


Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill… The former proclaim Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, because they think they can cause trouble for me in my imprisonment. What is the result? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is being proclaimed, and in this I rejoice.


Instead of becoming rivals with other ministers, all Paul cared about was Christ being proclaimed. Likewise, if we are going to have effective ministry teams, we must be willing to rejoice with others’ successes and mourn when they fail (Rom 12:15). We must recommend their ministries to others so that the kingdom of God can expand. Ultimately, others are blessed, and God gets all the glory when a person’s ministry does well. We should pray for other ministers, support them, encourage them, and promote their ministries, as though they were our own. Ultimately, we are all on the same team. As with most effective and successful teams, the members don’t care who gets the credit and they rejoice at each other’s successes. In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul said this,


Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.


Application Question: Why is jealousy so prevalent in ministry and so detrimental to its success? How can we guard our hearts against being jealous of others and their successes? How can we promote others and their ministries instead of being jealous of them?


To Develop an Effective Team Ministry, We Must Mobilize Every Church Member


Here is another way that our people can learn to engage in good works to meet pressing needs and so not be unfruitful.

Titus 3:14


Paul’s team did not just include those who were named, it included everybody in the small churches in Crete, as well as ultimately believers everywhere. When he says, “our people,” this was a term of endearment. Though Paul had probably only ministered in Crete for a short time, he was committed to them and their growth in Christ. That’s why he left Titus there, was sending Tychicus or Artemus to replace him, and wrote the letter of Titus. Though it was written specifically to Titus, it was meant for all believers in Crete. That is why he ends the letter with “grace be with you all” (v. 15). Not only were the people Paul named to engage in the ministry of good works, so was every believer in Crete. The need to do good works is mentioned six times in the letter, as it’s one of Paul’s major themes. Because of the false teaching in the churches and the ungodly culture surrounding them, many of the believers were conforming to the world instead of being a light to them. Previously in Titus 2:14, he told them that Christ saved them to purify them and make them “eager to do good” or “zealous for good works” (ESV). In Titus 3:8, he said they should “be intent on engaging in good works.” “Be intent” can also be translated “to take thought.” Good works don’t happen by accident. They take diligent thought and planning. These believers were to consider how they could support and build up the church, how they could meet the needs of the vulnerable in their community including the orphans and widows, who were the poorest of the poor (Jam 1:27). In the context, part of the good works Paul was encouraging them to engage in was financially supporting traveling missionaries like Zenas and Apollos, so the gospel could spread to the ends of the earth.


Likewise, in effective ministry teams, everybody is mobilized. Sadly, it has been said that in most churches (and organizations in general) twenty percent of the people do eighty percent of the work. It’s called the 80/20 rule. However, God has given every believer a gift and ability to utilize in building up the church. When the church members don’t get involved in serving, the leaders get burned out and never complete the tasks God called them to do. In the US, it’s been said that over 1,700 pastors leave the ministry every month and never return. One of the primary reasons for that is simply burnout. God didn’t mean for pastors or paid ministry professionals to do all the ministry. In fact, it’s the opposite! In Ephesians 4:12, Paul says that God gave pastors and teachers “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ.” All church members must learn how to pray, evangelize, counsel, serve, and teach God’s Word to others. Ephesians 4:16 says, “As each one does its part, the body grows in love.” As the church is mobilized, it grows strong and becomes effective. Therefore, when people are not getting involved and using their gifts, it weakens and handicaps the church and hinders the mission. Lord, mobilize your church, so it can reach the world and build your kingdom!


Application Question: How have you seen the 80/20 principle in operation where twenty percent of church members do eighty percent of the work? How can churches better mobilize their people? What steps would you recommend for a person to take who is interested in better serving the church? How has serving helped grow your faith?


To Develop an Effective Team Ministry, We Must Constantly Encourage and Pray for One Another


Everyone with me greets you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.

Titus 3:15


At the end of the letter, Paul sends greetings to Titus and the Cretan churches both from himself and the believers with him. He also ends the letter with a prayer petition that God’s grace, his unmerited favor, be with them all. Both the greeting and prayer were meant to encourage Titus and the Cretan churches who were going through a difficult time. Again, they had many false teachers in the church causing division and upsetting whole families. They would be selecting elders in each church to help them with those difficulties, along with equipping the saints. The greetings and prayer were meant to encourage Titus and the Cretan Christians. Likewise, to do effective team ministry, we must always encourage and pray for one another. Those doing ministry are prone to discouragement because of regular problems in life, the constant concern for other Christians, and also spiritual warfare that augments everything difficulty they go through. Therefore, those serving need constant prayer and encouragement. In Galatians 6:6, Paul said, “Now the one who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with the one who teaches it.” The good things that we must share with our teachers include encouragement, prayer, and also at times, financial support. Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs him down, but an encouraging word brings him joy.” We should constantly share encouraging words with those in ministry to build them up and help them carry the constant emotional and spiritual weight that comes with serving God and others.


The Teacher’s Outline Bible’s comments on our need to encourage others are helpful. It said:


How serious are you about encouraging other believers? Encouragement is one of the greatest ministries that a believer can have in the church. It was Mark Twain who once said that one little word of encouragement would last him for a month. Premeditated acts of kindness will go a long way in helping fellow believers to keep on pressing on. Today, purpose in your heart to encourage someone …


• by making a personal visit

• by calling them on the phone

• by sending them a note

• by going out of your way to make them feel special

• by helping them with some project or errand

• by telling them that you care, that you really care


Certainly, as we seek to excel in good deeds which Paul promotes throughout the letter of Titus (cf. 2:7, 14, 3:1, 8, 14), we must aim to encourage others in their ministry, including by praying for them. In Ephesians 6:18-20, Paul said this:


With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints. Pray for me also, that I may be given the message when I begin to speak—that I may confidently make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may be able to speak boldly as I ought to speak.


To encourage the church around the world, we must pray for them—that God may strengthen them, protect them from the evil one, and bear much fruit through them. We must pray for those we know personally, and certainly, we must lift up our pastors and ministers who bless us. We must pray constantly that God’s grace—God’s unmerited favor—would be upon all believers, as we seek to encourage others. In addition, we must be vulnerable and ask others for prayer, even as Paul did, so that we may be built up and encouraged for our ministry. Effective team members constantly encourage one another.


Who is God calling you to encourage in your family or church today?


Application Question: Why is encouraging others in ministry so important? How have you dealt with seasons of discouragement or even depression while serving others? How has God used others to encourage you in ministry or life in general? Who is God calling you to encourage today and how?


Conclusion


In conclusion, I would like us to ask three questions. (1) First, are you on the team? Have you ever accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior? We join God’s team not by our works but because of his. Because of our sins, we deserve eternal separation and judgment from God. He is loving but he is absolutely holy and just, and our sins deserve eternal punishment (Rom 6:23). However, because he is merciful, he sent his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16). To be saved, we must repent of our sins and put our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. As we commit to turning away from living for self, sin, and this world to follow Christ, he saves us and begins to daily change us into his image. Are you on the team? (2) Second, are you in the game or sitting on the bench? God has gifted everyone in his church with spiritual gifts to use for the body of Christ. There are people at work, school, and in your family that God wants you to pray for and invite to church or small group. There are unbelievers he wants you to share the gospel with. There are needs in church and outside of church that he wants you to get involved with to be a light for him. Are you in the game? (3) Thirdly, how is God calling you to be more committed to the success of the team by building God’s kingdom? Is he calling you to pray more, serve more, build up a specific person or family, invite more people to church? In 1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV), Paul says this, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Amen, Lord! Let it be so!


1. To Develop an Effective Team Ministry, We Must Recognize and Submit to Our Leaders and at Times Be Willing to Lead

2. To Develop an Effective Team Ministry, We Must Be Willing to Perform Any Task or Go Any Place, including Difficult Ones

3. To Develop an Effective Team Ministry, We Must Enlist People with Diverse Skillsets

4. To Develop an Effective Team Ministry, We Must Rejoice in and Promote Others’ Ministries Instead of Being Jealous of Them

5. To Develop an Effective Team Ministry, We Must Mobilize Every Church Member

6. To Develop an Effective Team Ministry, We Must Constantly Encourage and Pray for One Another


Application Question: What stood out most to you in the study and why? How is God calling you to apply this study to your life?



Prayer Prompts


• Pray for God to unify us as a team, that we would lean on each other, support each other, and encourage each other to complete God’s mission for us both individually and corporately.

• Pray for our leaders (church leaders, missionaries, teachers, parents, etc.) that God would give them supernatural wisdom, strength, encouragement, and protection to lead and bless his people and build his kingdom.

• Pray that God would continue to call, equip, and send his people (including within our church) to serve all throughout the world, including to difficult mission grounds—pray that God would bear much fruit through them.



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