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Our challenge is to be a Christ-centered community that is made up of people who are authentic and welcoming.

This week at Imprint Church in Woodinville, we continued looking inward at our own mission as a church by addressing the topics of being Authentic and Welcoming.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12, Paul boasted of the church in Thessolonica to the ancient world. In order for the church to be welcoming, it has to have these 3 Rs working for it:

  1. It has to be Relational – God taught us to love one another with brotherly love.
  2. It has to be Responsible – Living a quiet life and working with our hands.
  3. It has to be Respectable – So that you may walk properly before outsiders.

This sermon on Thessalonians pushes us to ask: Why isn’t this happening? Why aren’t there Christians living more simply with brotherly love, and wanting to be relational, responsible, and respectable?

Perhaps the answer is that we haven’t found freedom in these things. Moreover, we don’t realize that it’s where we’ll find freedom is in this type of life and in serving others.

Instead we want to self-promote, self-fund, self-focus, and simply live a self-centered life… this doesn’t give authenticity in our church or even a welcoming environment to what God wants to build.

We think we’ll be happy when we get what we want, but the reality is that we are actually happy when we give others what they want.

It is a wonderfully liberating experience when the desire to please God overtakes the desire to please ourselves, and when love for others displaces self-love. True freedom is not freedom from responsibility to God and others in order to live for ourselves, but freedom from ourselves in order to live for God and others.
– John Stott

Sermon Recording

Listen to the audio podcast on authenticity in a church or watch the recorded sermon video below.

Discussion Questions

Imprint Church has small Christian groups that meet up weekly in Kirkland, Bothell, and Woodinville. Here are the discussion questions for people meeting up in those small groups.

  1. Read 1 Thessalonians 4. Talk about the passage and what Paul is saying in it.
  2. How is Paul’s exhortation in verse 1, “we…urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us [is] how you ought to walk and to please God” an exhortation to be authentic in your beliefs? How can we individually and corporately be authentic as a church?
  3. Does authenticity allow for different convictions and beliefs among our people? How do we allow for authenticity and hold people accountable for sinful behaviors?
  4. What does brotherly love look like? How can we learn to love one another “more and more?” How can I grow in my brotherly love for my family in Christ?
  5. Are there any other believers in your life that you struggle to love? How do you handle that?
  6. How have believers been God-taught to love one another? Read Romans 5:5. What evidence do you see of God’s love being poured into your heart?
  7. Consider reading Romans 12:9-21. What does this passage say about loving one another?
  8. Why does Paul tell his readers to live a quiet life? Why does Paul encourage his readers to work hard? Do these things make the gospel and the church a more welcoming place towards outsiders? Why or why not?