Summary: From this passage we will discover God’s blueprint for effective ministry modeled for us by the apostle Paul.
God’s Blueprint For Effective Ministry
Paul’s Ministry Manual
October 13, 2002
Introduction: (v. 1)
Too many churches today are doing ministry their way instead of doing it God’s way. In fact so many of us have been doing ministry our way for so long that we don’t even realize that there is a difference. But because it is God’s ministry, not ours, we must follow His blueprint for ministry. As we study the text for today we will discover God’s blueprint for effective ministry modeled for us by the apostle Paul.
In verse 1 Paul writes: “You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure.” The Greek word for failure literally means ineffective. If Paul’s ministry to the Thessalonians was not ineffective, his ministry was obviously effective. So we can learn how to have an effective ministry by following Paul’s ministry model.
The visit that Paul is talking about was his first visit to Thessalonica and the account of that visit is recorded for us in Acts 17:1-10. A reading of that passage reveals that Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica may have been as short as two or three weeks although it could have been longer. When he arrived at Thessalonica there were no believers in that city. When he left two or three weeks later he left behind a strong, healthy church that was alive, growing, standing up to persecution, and becoming an example to believers across the world. Now that’s an effective ministry! That’s the kind of ministry that we want to have to our community, but can we honestly say that’s the kind of ministry our church is currently producing?
If we will do God’s ministry in God’s way we too will have an effective, successful ministry. We must be careful that we look for success not in the world’s eyes, but in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. The world often fails to recognize true success. In 1902, the poetry editor of Atlantic Monthly returned a stack of poems with this note, “Our magazine has no room for your vigorous verse.” The poet was Robert Frost. In 1905, the University of Bern turned down a doctoral dissertation as “irrelevant and fanciful.” The writer of that paper was Albert Einstein. In 1894 an English teacher noted on a teenager’s report card, “A conspicuous lack of success.” The student was Winston Churchill. Another student once graduated 42nd out of a class of 58 at military school. This student with so little potential was named Napoleon Bonaparte. The world often fails to see the potential for success that lies within a man or a woman, so what do we care what they think. God knows us and He sees our true potential.
Some commentators have referred to this passage of scripture as Paul’s “ministry manual.” So lets open the manual together and follow along as I read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16.
1) Proclaim the gospel proudly. (vv. 2)
Paul was not ashamed or afraid to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in spite of all the opposition he had faced not only in Thessalonica, but also previously in Philippi. The suffering in Philippi that he alludes to here is detailed for us in Acts 16:16-40. In Philippi there was a slave girl who was possessed by a demon and she made a lot of money for her owners through fortune-telling. The girl was following Paul and Silas around and shouting and one day Paul cast the demon out of her. Her owners were very angry because now they couldn’t make any money off of her anymore. So they took Paul and Silas to the magistrates who had them stripped and severely flogged and thrown into prison. During the night their chains fell off during an earthquake and their jail door was opened. But they remained there and were able to lead the jailer and his entire family to Christ. The next day they were released, said goodbye to their friends, and headed for Thessalonica.
In spite of this harsh treatment in Philippi they still dared to proclaim the gospel to the Thessalonians even though they were facing opposition there too. Acts 17 tells us that the Jews in Thessalonica became jealous of Paul’s ministry so they formed a mob and started a riot in the city. Jason, the man in whose house Paul was staying, was arrested and later released on bond. So that night Paul and Silas left for Berea under the cover of darkness. How could Paul dare to proclaim the gospel in such dangerous conditions? Only, as Paul says in verse 2, “with the help of our God.” If we are going to have an effective ministry in spite of less than perfect circumstances we must depend solely upon our God for help. He is the one who has called us into ministry as His children and commissioned us to take the gospel to the ends of the earth starting with our Jerusalem. God is not only the source of our mission, but also the source of our ability for ministry. We must never think for a moment that God has assigned us this great task and then sent us out on our own.