Summary: Characteristics of a ministry that honors God
A God Honoring Ministry
During our time in 1 Thessalonians over the past few Sunday evening messages, we have been considering the marks of a truly remarkable church and how its ministries can be God honoring as they are carried out. It is my hope and prayer that what we do here as we labor to reach new people and disciple those who gather together with us brings honor and glory to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is my hope and prayer that this will be your desire as well. What we want is to be ministering to people rather than just having church functions. What we want is to make a difference, not just ease our consciences. What we want is to impact our world for Christ, and in so doing bringing honor to God must be one of our supreme aims.
I will preface this message by saying this: the second chapter is dealing primarily with the pastoral leadership of Paul, Silas and Timothy. Every book and commentary and study that I have read has dealt with the chapter as it speaks to pastoral leadership. Every sermon I have read from this chapter during the past few weeks has been to pastors, but I am not preaching to pastors tonight. However, I am preaching to ministers, because every member is a minister, and in that way no member has any less responsibility to do a God honoring work than his or her pastor does. God has given to every member the responsibility to be a minister, a servant, an ambassador for Him in and through this local church, so how do you bring honor to Him as you minister and serve and represent Him? So far, we have said that what you do must be producing results. These results may be in the lives of those you minister to, the results may be reflected in an attitude of excellence as you work around the house of God, and most likely the results will be worked out in your own life as you serve. It has been my experience that no matter what I do for the Lord, if my heart is right and my mind is focused, that I am changed as much or more than those to whom I minister. We have also said that a God honoring ministry will continue in the face of opposition, and lastly it is a ministry that is true to the gospel.
Tonight I will add two more things to this list as we conclude the second chapter, and again I hope and pray that you will be moved to examine your own involvement in our church as your serve the Lord to know whether what you are doing is bringing God honor. If it is not, the answer will not be to quit serving, but to repent and have a change of heart, a change of mind and attitude about your service. So, let me give you two more requirements of a God honoring ministry. The first is that a God honoring ministry makes a personal investment. Second it is a ministry that recognizes the power of the gospel. We won’t get to discuss the second one tonight; we’ll save it for next Sunday. For now, let’s notice that a God honoring ministry…
Is a ministry that makes a personal investment.
I think that it is safe to say we are living in a day when many, probably most believers have adopted a consumer’s idea of the Lord’s work. One pastor writing in the Fall 2002 issue of Leadership Journal says this of the church he pastors,
"I am reluctant to call our worship gatherings a "service," because the word has lost its original meaning. It once meant that people gathered in service to God. Now worshippers consider themselves recipients of a religious service. Sermons and childcare are provided and a fee is appropriate for services rendered…We are all responsible for our church community. We are responsible to give time and energy, dreams and ideas, and money. Putting in time isn’t a substitute for giving money, any more than money is a substitute for participation." (Doug Pagitt, Leadership Journal, Fall 2002, pg. 34)
It is easy for me to look at the big churches and say that people like them because of the anonymity that goes along with them. Members can slip in and slip out and not make a personal investment and no one notices, no one bothers them, but the same is true in our smaller churches as well. Tonight even as I preach this message I preach it to what I consider our core group, because we have a whole segment of the church that would just rather not make the personal investment of getting involved in the Lord’s work. Now, if every member is a minister, and according to Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 where the Lord told us in His Bible that every member has been gifted for ministry, are they making the personal investment that brings God honor?