Should every church align with a living apostle?

16 06 2008

I’m enjoying Alan Hirsch’s two recent posts on apostolic ministry part 1 and part 2. He writes –

To conceptualize leadership as influence, think of a magnet and its effect on iron filings scattered on a sheet of paper. When the filings come into the orbit of influence of the magnet, they form a certain pattern which we all recognize from our school days. Leadership does exactly the same thing—it creates a field which in turn influences people in a certain way, just like the magnet’s influence on the iron filings. The presence of a great leader in a group of people changes the patterning of that group. For instance, Nelson Mandela’s appearance among a group of people will impact them in a significant way. His physical presence will be unmistakable and will change the social climate of the room. Apostolic leadership qualifies the mood of this influence, but the dynamics of influence operates in the same way. It is precisely this field, this matrix of apostolicity that is critical to the emergence of authentic missional church. Because it is the task of apostolic ministry to create environments wherein which the apostolic imagination of God’s people can be evoked, the spiritual gifts and ministries developed, wherein which the love and hope inspired by the gospel can be make known. For instance, John Wimber would have exerted just this sort of influence. Within two decades, Wimber altered the shape of evangelicalism and underscored the role of the Holy Spirit in mission and ministry in a way that has changed us forever. Just as we still feel the influence of a John Wesley even though none of us have met him. Influence is a field that changes behaviors.

I asked the following question –

One thing I’m pondering regarding this apostolic influence is how it works when two apostolic influences collide.

For example, every denomination is aligned with an apostle, most likely the one who founded the group. But usually that person is dead making all of those churches inflexible.

It seems every church body must align itself with a LIVING apostle because there are always seasons where things must be altered.

When I talk to Vineyard pastors about change I’m battling the ghost of Wimbur, Methodist pastors, the ghost of Wesley etc.

Wimbur and Wesley might completely agree with a new direction but they are not alive to consider it so, instead, their apostolic work has been institutionalized and is, therefore, impervious to the work of a living apostle.

This seems a terrible tragedy because Pastors need access to apostolic ministry in order to make necessary course corrections and to be involved in explosive apostolic expansion.

How do we exist in a world where 95% of established churches have no access to living apostolic ministry and have a DNA that makes gaining that access unlikely?

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8 responses

17 06 2008
Jonathan Brink

I would offer that we’re in a period of deep unsettling that will likely make it possible for a new apostolic period. It’s going to take 50 years but its going to happen.

17 06 2008
Reverend

What does it matter if a church is established in one thing or another? As Big Brother Jesus told all of us when he was here and teaching, God is WITHIN you. You don’t need to go to church to find the truth. Look within and ask God as everyone He ever created has a part of Him within. Go into stillness, meditate, or whatever you want to call it. Trust your intuition to tell you what is right or wrong. No book in this world, including the Bible, is 100% accurate. Only God can tell you, you just have to be willing to listen.

Most people are followers when it comes to religion because they are afraid to believe in something different than that of their friends or relatives. We live in a world based on fear. Once you rid yourself of all fear based ideas, you will begin to understand that you were created out of LOVE to go back to God, where you started. Stop believing in what others want you to believe, believe in what is inate inside of you. Do everything in love and you will see the truth that you have had all along. Why would you need a living apostle to do the work for you when you can do it yourself? You are perfect although we all have life influences covering it up. Uncover yourself from the past through forgiveness and pray for God’s Divine Love to show you His truth.. How do you think Big Brother did it? Stillness is the only way to hear God talk to you. In no other way can you hear Him.

“Love commands the universe. Man only resorts to control when love is missing” -Jesus

18 06 2008
Pastor Drew

Reverend,

It’s a shame you carry that name. It’s a shame that you would insult the bride of Christ. It’s a shame you don’t believe in the inerrancy of scripture. It’s a shame that you read a great blog, but are so confused. Although I disagree with the position of living apostles today, you will never know some of the deeper spiritual disciplines without coming under spiritual authority. If you’re unwilling to submit to Godly men and women, you ultimately are unwilling to submit to Jesus. Have you become so self-reliant that you don’t think God speaks through others? Has your “higher spiritual living” led you to such arrogance that you have it all figured out? Is your depravity so suppressed through self discipline that you no longer need the community of God for progressive sanctification?

20 06 2008
Jason Reid

Mr reverend, If one looks within and the Christian doctrine of sin is correct, all you will find is a fallen depraved creature (Rom 3v23). Therefore is it not better to look without for perfection in an infinite personal God, who is there.

20 06 2008
Jason Reid

Now back to the post. Good questions Jeremy, and less polemic that might be otherwise.

What do we understand by apostolic leadership and apostolic influence? I ask this because, the nature of the apostolic is still be wrestled out, and different people, streams, churches understand it differently. I think we should be influenced by the apostolic, starting from scripture (built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets), moving through historical influences (Augustine, Thomas, Anselm, Luther, Calvin, Know, Baxter, Edwards, Wesley, Ryle, Spurgeon, Pink, Lloyd Jones etc) through to the modern expression (who do we put in this list: Virgo, Driscoll, Wimber, Keller, Jeremy Pryor (New boy)). But we must always recognise that apart from scripture, they are all fallen and don’t get it right 100% of the time (I think Augustine was wrong about the Donatists but heh, someone shoot me). Today different apostles have different missions and I think sometimes they clash because they don’t quite understand each others contexts, and appreciate they have overcorrected on one issue to make up for a previous problem.

The importance for us church planters is understanding our context, and the mission that God has specifically called us to, and get the apostolic influences that will best promote that agenda. I don’t think we need Apostolic leadership per se because we are apostolic in what we are doing. I think it wise to develop good relationships with apostolic leaders today that we respect and agree with, because they can be a positive influence upon us. And maybe bring the occasional bit of correction when needed.

20 06 2008
eden2zion

Great points Jason.

One clarification – I believe an apostle is NOT someone who comes raging in with an agenda and all the authority. My picture of an apostle is simply someone willing to serve you and your calling/ministry/context with their gift as an architect.

So aligning with an apostle in an existing work/church might look like this –

1. You find you really resonate with the writings and strategy of an apostle
2. You contact him and begin developing a relationship
3. He visits your context and you build your relationship further (you also may visit him)
4. He makes helpful suggestions about the architecture of your ministry from a much larger base of experience (since this is his gift and he has access to many other Kingdom works)
5. You choose to rely (not exclusively but specifically) on his apostolic gift so he flies in whenever major changes or tweaks are being discussed/implemented including major theological/philosophical decisions).

The process looks different if we’re talking about a work the apostle helped found. But why wouldn’t EVERYONE want to be served in this way by the apostolic gift?

Summary – Apostolic ministry is not about wielding authority or being a superstar minister its simply a humble servant assisting with the formation of a church’s foundation to make sure it is both properly aligned with the Head (Christ) and equipped for growth and mission.

20 06 2008
Interesting Stuff 17 « Missio Dei

[…] your church have an apostle? And is he living or […]

20 06 2008
Jonathan Brink

Reverend, I’m curious as to where you found that quote from Jesus.

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