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Summary: What are some of the ingredients of church growth? What makes a church great in God’s sight? Some say that a church must be large to be great; but a church that is in love with Christ and the things of God will be a great church. In our passage we can gle

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Intro: What are some of the ingredients of church growth? What makes a church great in God’s sight? Some say that a church must be large to be great; but a church that is in love with Christ and the things of God will be a great church. In our passage we can glean four practices of a growing church:

1. THE MEMBERS LIVE GODLY LIVES (vv. 23-24).

A. The testimony and power of a church is often destroyed because the members lived irresponsible and ungodly lives.

B. The good news is, it is possible for us to live godly lives that honor the Lord and bring good testimony to His church.

C. Godliness is not an impossible dream. It can be a reality in our lives because God desires it (1 Tim 4:7-8). He has the power to make it happen. God is faithful; we can rely on Him.

2. THE MEMBERS PRAY FOR THEIR LEADERS (v.25)

A. Praying members are so vital to a growing and powerful church. An important priority church members must have is to pray for their leaders and workers, especially their pastor.

B. The term "brethren" is mentioned first in the verse for special emphasis. Paul requested that prayers be made for him by believers and motivated by the bonds of brotherly love.

C. In order to realize some of Paul’s personal burdens, let us examine some of his prayer requests in other epistles. Paul's desire was not for a nice home, financial security or easy life. (Rom 15:30-31; Phil 1:19-20; Col 4:3-4; 2 Thes 3:1-2)

3. THE MEMBERS LOVE EACH OTHER (v.26).

A. Existence of factions can cause the death of a church. God’s people need to be friendly and open to one another. This takes some effort, but it is effort that will be rewarded by God.

B. The word "greet" carries the idea of extending kindly greeting to others. The greeting was by means of a "holy kiss." A kiss upon the cheek was a common form of oriental greeting among friends. A handshake serves the same purpose.

C. "Holy" means that greeting is an expression of Christian love toward fellow believers that is real and void of hypocrisy.

D. “All the brethren" gives the extent of the greeting. Everyone in church is to be greeted in a sincere, loving way.

E. Growing churches are known for the warm fellowship and hospitality of their members to people. (John 13:34-35)

4. THE MEMBERS STUDY THEIR BIBLES (v.27).

A. No church can be great in God’s sight apart from a serious study of God’s Word. Each member must learn as much of the God’s word as he can. The Bible teaches us how to live profitably and pleasing to God. (II Tim 2:15; 3:16-17)

B. Paul put the Thessalonians under a solemn duty to read his epistle to the entire congregation. The word "charge" carries the idea of "putting under an oath." The seriousness of the charge to read the epistle may be seen in the use of the phrase "by the Lord." Paul wanted his readers to learn the doctrines and instructions of God contained in the scriptures. A growing church gives top priority to the study of God’s words.

5. THE MEMBERS HAVE THE GRACE OF GOD (v.28)

A. The grace of God is essential for both salvation and for Christian living. Salvation comes by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). The grace of God enables us to continue in the Christian life and be more like Christ.

B. It is a specific grace. It is the "grace of our Lord Jesus Christ." That is, this grace has its origin and example in the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. (see 2 Cor 8:9)

C. It is a sustaining grace. The Lord gives grace for every trial to those who humble themselves before Him (Jas 4:6).

D. It is a sufficient grace. The grace of the Lord is sufficient for any need and trouble that we may have (2 Cor 12:9a).

CONCLUSION: While large attendance, financial and material resources are helpful, they are not the main elements that truly promote spiritual growth and greatness in a local church. Brethren, if each one of us will: live godly lives, pray for our leaders and workers, love one another, seriously study the Bible, and rely on God’s sufficient grace alone… then the Lord will bless our church with the increase and greatness in His sight that we have always longed for. Will you do your part?

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