“…so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe“
This passage sets forth what an ideal (not a perfect church) should be. It is amazing how simple it is. We have a knack for complexity. We try to make everything complex. If we know the core ingredients of what makes a biblically successful church, we can trim off the unnecessary bureaucratic fat. We can build muscle using the right spiritual nourishment and exercise.
to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe
The Thessalonian church became the outstanding church to churches in Macedonia, the province of northern Greece and Achaia, the southern half of Greece. The cities of Athens and Corinth were in southern Greece. In other words, this one church reached all of Greece with the gospel by their influence on believers in other places. Not only did they reach Greece with the gospel but they extended the gospel to all of the Roman Empire – “in every place” (v.8). They did this within one year!
The Thessalonian church made a mark on their world. They made an impact because Christ made an impact on them. They influenced other Christians and so reached those without Christ in places they could not have gone themselves. Churches throughout Greece looked to the church at Thessalonica as their model for evangelism.
The city officials of Thessalonica described the extent of the ministry in this way,
“But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, ‘These who have turned the world upside down have come here too’” (Acts 17: 6).
Churches can extend the influence of their churches by modeling evangelism for other churches.
Churches can extend their influence of evangelism by influencing other churches. Clearly some churches are far more effective in evangelism than other churches. Is it pride that keeps churches from investigating successful evangelism in other churches?
Although we need to investigate successful evangelistic churches, this does not mean that we copy them in every respect. Each church has its own strengths. Ultimately, each church must find what God would have for them. Churches that make an impact for Christ do not dance to the tune of someone else’s music. They set their own tune. They may follow the example of another church, but they do not do so exclusively. Their leaders must find the unique vision God has for them.