1 Thessalonians and a (new) vision for church ministry…

In Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonika, he describes his foundation for and activity in reaching them. He first met these people in Acts 17 and found them to be open to his message of “reasoning from the scriptures and explaining and giving evidence that Jesus was the Messiah”.  In this context he describes in 1 Thessalonians 1 his building of that church with the foundation of prayer (giving thanks for them, bearing them in mind), gospel, word and faith.  In chapter 2 he describes how he reached out to the community in exhortation (greek word “paraklesis”, related to the word paraklete).  The characteristics of this paraklesis were speaking the gospel gently and not to please men, and having been clearly approved by God for this ministry.  In 1 Thessalonians 2:13 the goal of church ministry is clearly seen as “the Word of God accepted and performing its work in those who believe”.  This then is a picture of “the ministry of the Word”.  The result of this ministry for Paul included his living vicariously through the growth of  his disciples;  “we live if you stand” (chapter 3).  Additionally the Thessalonian church grew in sanctification specifically defined as avoiding immorality, having love, living quietly, working with their hands and living expectantly in the hope of Christ’s return (chapter 4).  This picture of “The Word Fellowship” is a neat example of an approach to church ministry anchored in the pattern of the Thessalonian church.

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