When you think of the basics of solid, biblical ministry, what comes to mind?
Perhaps you consider what we do in ministry—preaching, soulwinning, baptizing, teaching.
Perhaps you consider the facets of ministry—the preaching service, the bus ministry, Sunday school classes, counseling, or discipleship.
Or perhaps you consider the logistics of ministry—facilities, personnel, or supplies.
But 1 Thessalonians 3:12–13 centers our attention on three fundamentals to ministry that run deeper than what we do, say, or prepare ahead. They focus on the core of who we are and where we direct our focus.
And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.—1 Thessalonians 3:12-13
These three basics are essential for local church ministry.
1. Love for One Another
There is no replacement for an intense loving spirit in the church. And there is no better catalyst for an intense loving spirit than the leaders in the church.
Is a godly love part of who you are as a spiritual leader?
As a pastor, it is my privilege to love the members of Lancaster Baptist Church. I expect my staff to do the same. This is our core job description.
Of course, it’s easy to love those who are always encouraging you and appreciative of your ministry to them. But the church is wider than those who regularly express appreciation and affirmation. Our privilege—and responsibility—is to “increase and abound in love…toward all men.”
As you enter a weekend of ministry in the local church, don’t be guilty of not noticing people. Look for those who are off to the side who need encouragement.
See the guy out in the parking lot and greet him. Notice the nursery mother who had a bad day and encourage her as you check out her child. See the choir member clenching his jaw or blinking back her tears and express care. Look for people you can encourage, and do it!
Paul was able to encourage the church of Thessalonica to abound in love “even as we do toward you.” His expressed love for others set the tone for Thessalonica to be a loving church.
Jesus Himself loved the church so much that He gave Himself for it. May you and I love the churches members as an extension of the love of Christ for His church.
2. An Established Heart
In today’s ministry environment, if we don’t have a real, vital walk with God, we won’t make it.
Leaders wash out of the ministry regularly. Sometimes it’s burnout, exhaustion, or demanding members. But too often—and perhaps even at the core of other causes—it’s because their hearts were not established in Christ.
As you go into this weekend of ministry, be sure your heart is firmly founded in a personal, vibrant walk with God. Be sure you are established in holiness and purity in your heart and life.
Whatever you do for God, be sure you are growing in God. Be rooted as a Christian, spending quality time in prayer and Bible study and guarding your heart.
3. Expectancy of Christ’s Return
Do you anticipate the Rapture? I don’t mean just now because I mentioned it. But do you live with an expectancy of your Lord’s return?
The return of Christ can be one of the most motivating factors of ministry—if we think on and look forward to it.
Eschatologically speaking, I’m aware that “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” refers to the Second Coming of Christ rather than the Rapture, which I believe will be seven years prior. But either way, this verse reminds us of a blessed, blessed hope for every Christian.
Remembering the return of Christ revives the lethargic or haphazard attitude we too easily slip into. It gives us the motivation to enter a weekend of ministry with focused expectancy, remembering that what we do for the Lord today counts for eternity.
I have a full weekend of ministry ahead. We have a church-wide summer outreach spectacular during which our church family will knock on thousands of doors to share the gospel of Christ. Sunday will be a full day in which I will preach three services and make times for fellowship as well as appointments.
I can approach all of this as a to do list to complete. Or, I can enter the weekend with love for those I serve, a heart thoroughly right with God and established in His love, and a joyful expectancy of my Lord’s return.
I’ve found that the latter choice brings a joy in fulfilling what God has called me to do.