How To Become A Model Church

Bible Book: 1 Thessalonians  1 : 1-10
Subject: Church

How To Become A Model Church

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Dr. Mark Sterling

In 1 Thessalonians 1:7, we find Paul commending the church for being an example (model) to others. The word “example” in the Greek originally indicated a mark created by a forceful blow. Paul is saying that the Thessalonians modeled lives that left a mark on the world spiritually. This raises the question, are we impacting our world for Christ and being a model for others to follow? Let’s evaluate four points to understand how we too can imitate the Thessalonians and help our church become a model church.

I. Evaluate Our Salvation

Verses 6 and 9

Here we see the evidence of salvation that existed in the Thessalonians.

A. Turning Away

In verse 9 we note that they had turned away from idols to God. So often today it is difficult to determine a Christian from a non-Christian. Paul noted that one could easily see that the Thessalonians had turned away from false religion, idols and sinful habits.

B. True Joy

Verse 6 reveals that the Thessalonians verified their salvation through suffering. In other words, these Christians had such joy in Christ that they were willing to suffer whatever was necessary in order to honor the Lord that had saved them.

We need to evaluate our salvation and determine if it is genuine. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you are disqualified.”

A model church is filled with people who have turned from sinful ways and are not moved away from their commitment by the culture in which they live. And, they will suffer insults, rejection, and other hardships in order to walk in the joy and approval of the Lord!

II. Evaluate Our Submission

Verses 5b-6a

A. Godly Leadership

Verse 5b

Paul had become the spiritual father whom they should imitate (1 Corinthians 4:15-16). It is unlikely that people in a church will rise above the spiritual level of their leadership. Whether vocational ministers or laity, a church must have spiritual leaders who lead by example. They can say, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Dr. Minnix, Editor of PastorLife, shares that a layman told him recently how disappointed he was to discover that the pastor at the church where this layman had been a longtime member was pressing people to give and telling him to tithe even though he (the pastor) was not tithing himself. How sad that is. Leaders must call on the people in the church to follow them in behavior and not just tell them what God says that they should do.

B. Godly Followship

Verse 6a

They had a teachable spirit that allowed them to learn from their spiritual leaders. Many churches do have dedicated spiritual leaders, but the members will not follow their leaders or God’s teachings. How sad that so many church members have one standard for leaders but do not feel that the same standard applies to them. Following leadership, being teachable and learning to grow is part of becoming a dedicated follower of Christ and helping your church become a model church.

God’s people must have Godly leaders to follow. Everything rises and falls on leadership. Once the leadership is godly, then the people must be willing to follow. If God’s people are unwilling to follow God’s man, then the church grinds to a halt. It takes both godly leadership and godly followship for a church to make a mark on their world for Christ.

III. Evaluate Our Sharing

Verses 7 and 8

Tuesday morning April 29, 2003, at approximately 5:00am, my house began to shake. The bed was moving back and forth. Leaping from bed, I looked out the window thinking that a tornado was upon us. The sky was calm, as the house continued to shake. A few minutes later we discovered that we had experience an earthquake. The quake had measured a magnitude of 4.9 on the Richter scale and lasted about twenty seconds. People from North Carolina to Mississippi had been jolted out of bed. The epicenter was about 37 miles southwest of Chattanooga, Tennessee, along the border of Georgia and Alabama. Spiritually speaking, the believer in Thessalonica had become a spiritual epicenter that impacted Macedonia, Achaia, and beyond.

Note three keys in the spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

A. It Sounded Forth

This means it rang out, reverberated, amplified, and increased in scope and power. God’s people but not be ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God unto salvation for ALL who believe. People cannot believer if they do not hear. Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes from the Word of God.

B. It Spread Naturally Everywhere

There are many evangelistic plans written by men, but nothing can compare to a changed life lived out in front of others on a daily based. As we live for Jesus and speak up for Him, the Gospel will spread naturally.

C. It Was Supernaturally Empowered

The gospel came to them, “ in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance.” The Lord worked this same gospel through their lives as they followed their spiritual leaders.

Vance Havner once said, “To much of our orthodoxy is correct and sound, but it is like words without a tune. It does not stir the wells of the heart. It has lost its hallelujah, and is too much like a catechism, and not enough like a camp meeting. We may smile at our spiritual forefathers and call some of them primitive and antiquated, but they had a vividness and vitality, a fervor and fire that makes us look like fireflies beside their flaming torches.”

IV. Evaluate Our Service

Verse 3

The believers at Thessalonica experienced faith, love, and hope in their service to God. Are you experiencing faith, love, and hope in your service to God?

The Thessalonian Christians formed a model church that impacted their world because they were saved, submitted, sharing, and serving. What is keeping you from becoming a model church?