1 Thessalonians 1:6–8
You became imitators of us and of the Lord … And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you … your faith has become known everywhere.
The Thessalonian church had, at least ostensibly, become models of a functional church. They became “imitators” of Paul and Jesus, at least in terms of enduring suffering, but also in their commitment to evangelism. They had become well known “everywhere” because of their faithful practices.
And that got me wondering. Today, what would a church look like that was a model to all believers? I came up with a list of six practices.
- The church would focus on making radical disciples. Everything they did would be run through the lens of (a) making more disciples, that is, evangelism; and (b) training/apprenticing new and existing disciples so that they were focused on making more disciples.
- The church would multiply itself: it would multiple disciples, leaders, ministries, and even the church itself – planting more churches that would plant more churches.
- The church would create outreach opportunities that were entrances into faith – no “suffering relief” ministries would be devoid of conspicuous and effective evangelism and discipleship.
- Church members would be well taken care of … by other church member. Committed disciples of the church would never have to worry about their future because the church would be there for them in all circumstances.
- The church’s staff would spend their time equipping the church, and leading the church, to be a disciple making franchise (to use the E Myth Revised vernacular).
- The church would be beacons of hope to other churches who would turn to them for inspiration and training.
Notice what’s missing here. There’s nothing about worship. There’s nothing about facilities. There’s nothing about Sunday school, small groups, choirs, bands, theologies – other than a commitment to make disciples of Jesus Christ . Style, language, diversity, homogeneity, preaching, finances, etc. are all of secondary importance and selected based on the immediate context. Virtually everything in the “what’s missing” list are tools that can be used, or not used, depending on the need.
It’s the six cores that make the model church model-worthy, for a church like this results in a reflection of 1 Thessalonians 1:8 “The Lord’s message rang out from you … your faith has become known everywhere.