What will grow the church in Melbourne today? There have been many ideas suggested on which we have spent a great deal of effort but our work seems only to have strengthened the headwinds. 1 Thessalonians reminds us there are many things we have forgotten about church growth – the most important of which is that the will of God is we are first growing in our life in him. [Audio | Notes]
1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 | Rejoice always, pray continually
How should a church grow?
Regard for their leaders (12-13)
- the fruit will be peace
Warn, encourage and hold with patience (14-15)
- everyone’s work
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks always (16-22)
- the work of the church
He will do it (23-28)
- Desiring holiness
- grace with you
For further thought
In our culture we want to know what to do to make a church grow in numbers. In the New Testament the writers first want churches to grow in their life in God. The effectiveness of the church and its witness is still seen in how we abide in Jesus or not (John 15.1-8).
Q: In verses 12-13 Paul is writing about the leadership that has emerged in Thessalonica. The leaders were recognised by their hard work of caring for others in the Lord. What difference does it make to a church when its leaders are held in high regard or even loved? Why does this contribute to peace in the church (v13)?
Q: The work described in verses 14-15 are for everyone in the church not just the leaders. What difference would it make if our members were active in warning, encouraging, avoiding payback, and striving for good with patience? Why is does the church have people with these problems?
Q: Verses 16-22 are directed at the whole church – which is a relief! The command to rejoice always is not a ban on individual sorrows (4.13) or anxieties (5.1-3) but an encouragement that the whole church, in its life together, can be marked by joy in the Lord, consciousness of God in our daily lives (constant prayer), and thankfulness. What would change in our worship and other church activities if these things were our emphasis? All of these are a work of the Spirit of God as is the gift of prophecy (5.19). How do we receive God’s words today? How do we test and discern them? Do you know examples of false prophecy (speaking lies in the name of God)?
Q: In Verses 23-24 Paul prays a prayer he is confident that God will answer. Why is it rare for us to hear of a church that desires to grow in holiness? What does it mean for us to be sanctified in spirit, soul and body? Why is this a work of grace (v28)?