3. Concern for Christian Ministry
Authentic Christian ministry involves pleasing God and loving God’s people.
“1 For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. 3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. 9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” – I Thessalonians 2:1-12
- Briefly describe the background of Paul’s 1st letter to the church Thessalonica. Try to summarise chapter 1 in three sentences or less.
- In verses 4-10, we considered four concerns Paul had for a right understanding of conversion in Thessalonica. Can you name these concerns?
- How did last week’s text affect your thinking, habits, and behavior as a follower of Jesus Christ?
I. Concern for relational ministry
II. Concern for faithful ministry
III. Concern for parental ministry
IV. Concern for proclamational ministry
Quick Thought: Christian Ministry & God’s Word
Our passage today discusses Paul’s pastoral ministry among the believers in Thessalonica. One of the primary responsibilities of a pastor shepherd is to feed the sheep. Pastor/elders shepherd the sheep by leading them into the green pastures of God’s Word, where they can feed for themselves. God’s sheep feed on God’s Word. As they feed, the shepherds guard them and protect them from wolves who would injure them with false teaching. The primary pastoral responsibility of elders is teaching (see 1 Timothy 3:2), and in this way, they care for God’s flock. Paul makes this very clear in his farewell speech to the elders of the church in Ephesus, recorded in Acts 20:28-31: “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number, men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!” Pastoral care is taking appropriate responsibility for the people of God: providing food for them through teaching them the Bible and guarding them against the incursion of false teaching so that they are left unmolested to thrive on gospel truth. See the announcement to learn how to join environments at UCC that are designed to help UCC feed on God’s Word. These include Men of the Word, Women of the Word, growth classes, and Life Groups. Welcome!
Life Group Questions
Quick Review of the Text
- Why might people have thought Paul’s visit had been a failure? (See Acts 17:1-10 and 1 Thess. 2:1-2)
- How had the thought of being “entrusted with the gospel” shaped Paul’s ministry? (2:3-6a)
- What is the danger if the preacher is seeking to please men and women? (2:3-6a)
- How could Paul’s ministry have been a burden on the Thessalonians? (2:6b-9)
- What aspects of the role of mother (2:6b-9) and father (2:10-12) are highlighted by Paul in his ministry?
- What are the sorts of things that you look for in a Christian leader? What do you consider to be the most important?
Apply the Text
- Why is it important church leaders are prepared to suffer for the gospel?
- What are the pressures that can cause a church leader not to be faithful to the gospel?
- How should the images of mother and father help us to understand the role of Christian leadership?
- Having studied this passage, how should you pray for church leaders?
- Do you have or have you had church leadership responsibilities? How has this passage challenged the way you exercise ministry?