1 Thessalonians 2 provides a glimpse into the apostle Paul’s method of evangelism. Written around 50 A.D., it offers a view of early life in a Christian community. Looking at the first twelve verses we can extract 5 key principles for performing not only an effective ministry, but biblical guidelines to apply toward any endeavor.
1 Thes. 2 1:12
You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.
As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.
You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
“We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.” (verse 2)
The first step in preaching the gospel is boldness to tell the truth. Paul states very clearly that he was appointed by God and ‘not looking for praise from men.’ Repeatedly jailed, flogged, stoned, and shipwrecked, Paul never backed down from declaring the truth. (2 Cor 11) Preaching about God or following your heart means a willingness to meet contention on your path, shrug it off, and keep on walking with the knowledge He is there beside you.
“…we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.” (verse 7)
Gentleness is strength under control. When someone makes a mistake the effective way to address the problem is in a calm and controlled manner so as not to exacerbate the issue. Paul was challenging the established authority and other misguided people, but he did not regard them as enemies but warned them as brothers. Place the interests of others first and provide correction with patience.
“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” (verse 8)
Love should be both the superior and guiding motive. Love your neighbor as yourself. What’s the point if you don’t actually care about those you are serving? Paul states in 1 Cor 13:3, “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” If you donate a 60 inch plasma flat-screen to someone, but have not love, you have gained nothing. If you give the greatest Power point presentation ever to improve company efficiency by 16%, but do not have love, you have nothing.
4) Hard work
“Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.” (verse 9)
Hold your end of the bargain. It's commanded that we work. Laziness won’t win many friends and there is no substitute for hard effort. Paul made sure to work diligently so as not to create any conflict of interest while preaching in the city and to behave as a model for others.
“You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.” (verse 10)
In order for a ministry to be authentic its members must practice what they preach. Behavior agrees with the message. There’s no quicker way to dissolve plenty of hard work than to get caught in a scandal that exposes hypocrisy. Holiness implies purity.
Not only are we called to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15), but without aiming to become so we risk misunderstanding God and what we are called to do. “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Heb 12:14)