Sermon: The God-Driven Church 1 Thessalonians 1:1–10 -- By: Steven J. Lawson

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 03:3 (Fall 1999)
Article: Sermon: The God-Driven Church 1 Thessalonians 1:1–10
Author: Steven J. Lawson

Sermon: The God-Driven Church
1 Thessalonians 1:1–10

Steven J. Lawson

Steven J. Lawson is the senior pastor of Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama. Dr. Lawson received his D.Min. from Reformed Theological Seminary and has served as pastor in three churches. He is the author of seven books, the most recent being Absolutely Sure (Multnomah).


Man can build a booming church, but only God can build a biblical church. Contrary to popular belief, a dichotomy often exists between the two. A man-built church, seeks to accomplish man’s goals, using man’s means, and strives, whether consciously or not, for man’s glory. The latter, a God-built church, has the Spirit of God as its energy, the Word of God as its most precious jewel, and the glory of God as its supreme goal.

We see the effects of the man-built ministry all around us. Many churches have become nothing more than entertainment centers, giving slick performances to growing numbers of mesmerized, but unproductive churchgoers. Such devices may bring people into the church, but they do not transform them once they arrive. Sad to say, many today are seeking to “redefine” church as though this is an option. By looking to the world for its signals, the modern day church is suffering from an identity crisis of monumental proportions.

Some see the effective church as being consumer driven. They say we should survey our “target market,” discover what they want, and then give it to them. People will “pack the pews” desiring what we offer. This is tantamount, quite frankly, to the patient writing the prescription for himself, all the while oblivious to his real illness, and thus never finding a cure.

Others see the church as culture driven. A slight variation of the previously mentioned model, this approach seeks to bring the world’s forms of entertainment into the church in order to stimulate outreach and growth. Take the culture’s forms of amusement, add society’s latest trends, put a spiritual “spin” on it, and you will win the world. People should see little, if any, difference between the latest rock video, a night club ensemble, an off- Broadway production, and their church’s worship service. Use the world to reach the world is the strategy they promote.

Still others envision the church as being driven by felt needs. In other words, address the apparent, surface needs of people. Tell them how to find self-esteem, psychological significance, and personal success. Don’t bore them with long discourses on the Bible. And, whatever you do, never mention the “s” word (sin) or the “h” word (hell). After all, who wants to hear what is negative?

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