It is easy to admire the unity, maturity, and ministry of exemplary churches. What we don’t realise, though, is that exemplary churches are made up of exemplary Christians, and being an exemplary Christian isn’t something that is “probably never going to happen to me”. The visible impact of your church is only going to be as great as the visible impact of the Gospel on your life and ministry. The church in the New Testament that become the church of the greatest example, was a church that one would not have expected it from.
When the Apostles preached in Thessalonica, there was not nearly the normal reception to the Gospel as they experienced in some of the other cities. Thessalonica, though an important city, was not nearly in the category of significance, influence, and affluence like Athens, Corinth, or Ephesus. Yet, it was the church in Thessalonica that became the example to the churches in that entire part of the Roman Empire (1 Thess 1:7-8).
The route to an exemplary church is simple: become an exemplary Christian. The recipe for an exemplary Christian isn’t that difficult either. Be convinced of the truth and dependability of Scripture (1 Thess 1:5). When ministry opportunities come up, imitate the mature and Christ, not the grumbling immature (1 Thess 1:6). In all things, even difficulties, show others that you joy comes from the Holy Spirit (1 Thess 1:6). Remember that the Christian life is one of leaving the things of the world to focus on the things of the Lord for He has promised to come back for us (1 Thess 1:9-10).
Anyone can become an exemplary Christian. Any Church can become an exemplary Church.