One key point I have sought to make here and elsewhere is that Paul models a pattern of ministry which is attuned to each individual in the church and not just to a corporate mass. He conceives of ministry as serving particular people not simply people in the abstract. I think his language bears this out, though this is new to some people and they are uncertain.
A student of mine, Caleb valentine, is writing a fine honors thesis on Paul’s pattern of ministry as found in 1 Thessalonians. In his work he pointed out to me the following great quote from Paul Beasley-Murray.
“Paul was concerned not just for the corporate health of the churches in his care, but also for the well-being of individuals. People mattered to Paul… In 1 Thessalonians 2:11 Paul declared: “We dealt with each one of you like a father with his children,” implying that he had concerned himself with his converts on an individual basis. Similarly, Paul emphasized the personal character of his work in Colossians 1:28: he sought to promote individual maturity by “warning and teaching everyone in all wisdom.” All this is in line with Luke’s account of Paul’s speech to the Ephesian elders, which suggests that his normal practice was to combine preaching to the church at large together with the visiting of individual church members (Acts 20:20).”
[Beasley-Murray, P. “Paul as Pastor.” In Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, eds. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid. Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1993.]
Amen. Let us do likewise.