"Effective" Local Churches
The following are excerpts from an article written by Kenny Moorer.
First century Thessalonica evidently was home to an effective, local church. Paul indicates that in 1 Thessalonians.
As is often the case for me, my study in preparation for a lesson took a different direction midstream last week. In preparing my lesson this past Sunday evening entitled A Legacy Worth Following…Of Encouragement and Inspiration (as part of our yearly theme), I began reading and studying some thoughts from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. In a casual reading of the text, I noticed words like encourage, exhort and edify, words that point to the need that each of us has for the other. The believers in this young, Thessalonian church were evidently doing pretty well when it came to being the kind of examples Christians should be.
They had received the gospel for what it was, the word of God, but they had also allowed it to work in their lives. “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (2:13).
Like Paul, I am encouraged and edified when I see the gospel working in the lives of believers. Preachers need to see the gospel working in the lives of those folks we “preach to” on a regular basis. In a sense, we get “fired up” (that’s the coach coming out in me) when we remember Christians’ “work of faith,” “labor of love,” and “patience of hope” (1:3), “standing fast in the Lord” (3:8), “excelling still more and more” (4:1,10).
Obviously Paul wasn’t with the brethren in Thessalonica when he wrote this letter to them, but he sure wanted to be. “But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire. Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy” (2:17-20).
Effective local churches don’t happen accidentally; everyone accepts their roles and moves forward with a vision, led by faithful and forward thinking shepherds who are committed to the Lord, for the sake of the King and His Kingdom. Preachers who are solid, sound and striving to sow seed are also necessary for effective growth and strength. Members who continue to dedicate themselves to working effectively for the King’s cause are essential. It takes everyone’s best.
Could you “excel still more?” Sure you could. We all could. But sometimes, we all need a little “atta boy” or “way to go,” to stir us up even more in order to excel still more. “For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you…” (2 Peter 1:12-13).