The Church in America today does not lack for conferences, strategies, blog-posts, books, celebrity-pastors, and para-church ministries designed to train, counsel and equip the church and her leaders as never before. But is all of it enough, is it making a difference? Do we perhaps get lost in church-statistics, church-strategies, para-church-helps? Is it all perhaps too much?? I wonder how the Apostles would score on our leadership must-haves or how their church plants would rate on our scales of success if we evaluated them. Maybe we should be consulting the Bible straight up to see how the early Church leaders evaluated their own success and strategies.
The Gospel is in the Conviction of the Spirit
Without the power and leading the Holy Spirit the Gospel is just a bunch of words. It takes the conviction and the invitation from God’s Spirit to lead someone to Christ (whether a first-time believer or a long-time disciple). We rely on God for the ministry of Church.
For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
(1 Thess 1:4–5)
The Gospel is Spread by Word of Mouth
When you work in marketing, you quickly realize that for all the cutting edge trends or ideas, outrageous strategies and social-media bandwagons, nothing in marketing beats the power of word-of-mouth. There is nothing people trust more than their friends or family recommending something. Word-of-mouth spreads like wildfire.
For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.
(1 Thess 1:8–9)
The Gospel is Not Meant to Impress You
While many smart people have studied marketing strategy and have discovered you are rarely selling a brand or product as much as you are selling yourself that is what’s different about the Gospel. You don’t have to sell yourself because the product you are “selling” is not your own but belongs to God. Therefore the Gospel rides not on my man-made image or self-made reputation but upon God’s holy-reputation and eternal-image.
For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 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.
(1 Thess 2:3-4)
The Gospel is Presented without Glitter
You ever notice how cheesy marketing towards young girls is when it’s overdosed with too much glitter? That glitter is supposed to make something seem shinier and prettier than it really is but it doesn’t take long before the glitter begins to detach and gets all over everything else. We don’t need to sell the Gospel by marketing it with gimmicks, trying to make it look hip & cool or traditional or utilizing some other cutting-edge marketing ploys.
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.
(1 Thess 2:5-6)
The Gospel is Sacrificial Love
Jesus shared His life with twelve disciples who became His closest friends and eventually became the leaders of the early Church. He laid down His life so that we could spend eternity with Him. So it might go without saying that the Gospel requires sacrificial love to demonstrate it. However, this might be the hardest thing we have to do when we are the ministry of the Church and minister the Gospel.
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.
(1 Thess 2:8)
The Gospel is Presented without Stumbling Blocks
We so often let our own baggage and garbage get in the way of the Gospel. Let’s work hard to make sure there are no excuses or reasons for someone to walk away from the Gospel. Let’s not give the devil a foothold in their heart at the moment and time of decision. Let’s put the person who needs to hear the Gospel ahead of our own needs and wants. This is convicting to me.
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. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers.
(1 Thess 2:9–10)
The Gospel is Accepted from God not Man
We need not be concerned whether or not people like or accept the Gospel. We need not fret or worry about that. We present the Gospel because that is what God has asked us to do. We need to not worry about their reaction. Their response is between them and God alone. We should do our best to make sure nothing is in their way but let’s also remember that it is the Spirit of God who draws them to the Gospel.
we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. 14 For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews
(1 Thess 2:13–14)