You became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 1 Thessalonians 1:7 (NIV)
Why should we be interested in what happened at Thessalonica? Because this church was a marvelous example of an authentic work of God. The church in Thessalonica is the only church in the New Testament that Paul describes as a model for others.
The church at Corinth had wonderfully gifted people, but there was way too much self-interest. The church at Ephesus had been greatly blessed, but after a while they lost their first love. The spiritual temperature in that church was too cold. But the church at Thessalonica was a model for other churches!
What God did in this church had an influence far beyond their community. It had an influence in the entire region where God had placed them. First Thessalonians 1:8 tells us “The Lord’s message rang out from [these believers] not only in Macedonia and Achaia—[their] faith in God [became] known everywhere.” The message of the gospel rang out from them across the known world. This church became a model for other churches, and a catalyst for world mission.
An authentic work of God cannot be confined to one place. Just as individual people learn from other people, churches can learn from other churches. The work of God in Thessalonica was so striking that others wanted to learn from what had happened there. The result was that what God did among them was reproduced through other people in other places.
Remember that this church was born in severe suffering. These believers became a model because they welcomed the message “in spite of severe suffering” (1:6). They modeled a faith that did not buckle under pressure. This is the kind of faith that we need today—a kind that perseveres no matter what.
Are you aware of other “model” churches that have had an influence on your church? What kind of influence did they have?