Your Church Does Not Need a Statler or Waldorf

Josh Buice

Known for their boisterous heckling—Statler and Waldorf are a pair of cantankerous and opinionated Muppet characters who engage in frequent negative balcony critique.  In short, they are balcony grumps, professional discouragers, and useless critics.  It should be the goal of every Christian man to grow old and avoid turning into a Statler or Waldorf.  Your church does not need either of these characters, and we know this because of what we read in the Bible.

Paul left Crete in the hands of a man named Titus.  It was his job to shut the mouths of the heretics and put things in order in the church.  He was charged with appointing elders to oversee the ministry of the church and to preach the Word.  It would be through the consistent preaching and teaching of the Word that the naysayers would be silenced on the outside and the church would be brought to harmony on the inside.

Paul instructed Titus to train the older men in sound doctrine.  According to Paul, this should result in the aged men becoming “sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness” (Titus 2:2).  Notice the characteristics that Paul insisted must be evident in the men of the church.  In Paul’s day and in our day, the church of Jesus Christ needs faithful men who are worthy of respect and who are healthy in the faith.

Worthy of Respect

The reason that we have Statler and Waldorf characters showing up in the fictional world of the Muppets is because they’re all around us in real life.  We work with these characters, worship with them, and often live in the same house with them.  While they may be profitable for a Muppet Show, they’re unprofitable for the local church.  Paul used a word to describe the wellbeing of aged men in the church.  He said they should be dignified.  This particular word has in mind a life that’s worthy of respect.

Paul likewise pointed out that the aged men of the church should be sober-minded and self-controlled.  The grey beards of the church are expected to be clear headed and self-controlled rather than quick tempered.  Younger men need good examples, and all of the older men of the church should possess the same type of dignified restraint as the elders who oversee the church.

Healthy in the Faith

What makes an older man in the church worthy of respect?  According to Titus 2:2, it’s based on the health and vitality of his faith.  Many older men in evangelicalism are considered to be longtime members of their churches, but their faith is not in good shape.  Older men are known to neglect their faith in pursuit of entertainment, retirement goals, or other superficial things in life.  This results in many aged men turning into useless balcony grumps who are of no value to their local church and poor examples to the younger men who desperately need faithful examples.

When older men become perpetual critics who sit on the sidelines and complain, the church will suffer the following problems:

  1. Perpetual adolescence among the younger men.
  2. Spiritual immaturity.
  3. Laziness.
  4. Discouragement among the younger men (and families) in the church.
  5. Disunity.
  6. Inability to solve problems and reach goals.
  7. Lack of joy.
  8. Burden to the elders who lead the church.
  9. Unhealthy example to the deacons who serve the church.

One of the greatest needs in the evangelical church today is faithful men who finish well for the glory of God.  Far too many aged men die physically mature but spiritual babes. What if the grey beards represented true biblical wisdom in the church?  What if the aged men taught the younger men how to live well and die well?  What if the older men in the church set good examples in the area of evangelism and missions?  What if the mature men of the church were actually mature in the faith?  William Hendriksen writes:

In their attitude toward God let the aged men show soundness in their faith. Let them rely wholly on him and his revealed truth. In their attitude toward the neighbor let them evince soundness in their love. And in their attitude toward bitter trials let them reveal soundness in their endurance or steadfastness. [1]

We can read books and attend conferences about becoming a healthy church, but it will not happen apart from faithful men who possess a healthy faith.  Only then will the men of the church be worthy of respect and honor.  Today’s church doesn’t need a Statler or Waldorf, and tomorrow’s church will not have men like Titus or Timothy if they’re discipled by such characters today.  We must strive to become a Titus 2:2 man rather than a Statler or Waldorf.  Titus 2 is often a chapter quoted in regard to the women of the church, but it’s also loaded with mandates for biblical manhood.

  1. William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles, vol. 4, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 363.

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Author Your Church Does Not Need a Statler or Waldorf

Josh Buice

Pastor Pray's Mill Baptist Church

Josh Buice is the founder and president of G3 Ministries and serves as the pastor of Pray's Mill Baptist Church on the westside of Atlanta. He is married to Kari and they have four children, Karis, John Mark, Kalli, and Judson. Additionally, he serves as Assistant Professor of Preaching at Grace Bible Theological Seminary. He enjoys theology, preaching, church history, and has a firm commitment to the local church. He also enjoys many sports and the outdoors, including long distance running and high country hunting. He has been writing on Delivered by Grace since he was in seminary and it has expanded with a large readership through the years.