“Let me give you a biblical picture of an apostle: he is a weak little chap with a poor voice (2 Corinthians 10:10), a jailbird (Acts 16:23). He looks under-nourished and his clothing is disreputable (1 Corinthians 4:11). If you look at his hands, they are stained and cracked by the hard work of softening skins and sewing them into tents, for that is his livelihood (Acts 18:3). At times he is very ill, even despairing of life (2 Corinthians 1:8-11; Galatians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 11:30). Perhaps these infirmities have come from the terrible sufferings which he has undergone (2 Corinthians 11:23-28)”.*
I feel the need
I am a young pastor aspiring to make a positive contribution in the context of my local Church. I love my Church. I have the privilege of preaching every other week and leading volunteer teams throughout the church. As I serve on our leadership team and increasingly take on responsibility I am more and more aware of the need for apostolic ministry. Our team needs apostolic input. Personally I need it and the Bible is clear that the church needs it.
As part of New Frontiers we are part of an apostolic family on a mission. Our movement is in a period of transition. Within the UK we are looking to develop and cultivate multiple apostolic spheres. These spheres look to be largely regional. It is easier to have genuine relationship with those who live closer to you. I hope that within the transition we leave a lot of space for relationships to be preserved and blossom across different parts of the country. Words from PJ Smyth stick in my mind that we are to 'honour gifting, honour relationships and let mission motivate.'
What do we mean by 'apostle'?
Generally the word 'apostle' simply means 'sent one'. Jesus is referred to as 'the apostle' in Hebrews 3v1.In the context of the New Testament it seems there are two further legitimate uses of the word.
1) Apostle. Big 'A' Apostle. The office.
These were men who had seen the risen Jesus and had been specifically commissioned by Jesus himself to be Apostles. (Acts1v21-26) These men had a unique call. They were a limited number of men called to pass on the teaching of Christ authoritatively in part through writing scripture. They brought a body of teaching. (Acts 2v42) They were seen as 'master builders' (1Cor3v10) laying the foundations of Churches (Ephesians 2v20) they had something of a motivation to 'go' to the nations (Rom1v5) They appointed elders (Acts14v23 & Acts20v28) and they were very much seen as Father figures with much affection for the Churches.
2) The gift of apostle. Little 'a' apostle.
There were more than the 12(+1) apostles in scripture. This means more men were recognised as having an apostolic gift to the church. (Acts14v14 Gal1v9) While scripture writing is complete, we still need these men who make no addition to scripture but plant churches, lay foundations, bring teaching, motivate us to 'go' beyond our comfort zones, bring an outside voice, help our teams of elders, appoint new elders, care for and the churches. Terry Virgo is helpful on his blog and PJ Smyth has a great PDF called 'The world needs more apostles'. *This is where the above quote can be found.
Jesus gives apostles
To have men like this among and in our churches is a must. If we are to grow up into 'mature manhood' and be the Church which Christ is calling us to be, we need more apostles. If we are to be effective in being a real blessing to our cities and towns and to the nations we need more apostles.
Ultimately it is Jesus who gives apostles. They are a gift to the Church. It seems that our part would be to ask Jesus, look for and encourage those with gifts in this lane, give generously, and look to actively participate in the sending and receiving of apostolic ministry. Surely we are to look for apostolic ministry to emerge from within our own ranks if we are to see more apostles. I find the description at the top challenging. I don't want to miss out on apostolic ministry because of my own pre-conceived ideas of what an apostolic ministry should look like.
Our church currently has good relationships with Matt Partridge (Oxford) Guy Miller (Bournemouth) as well as our regional team lead by Grant Van Schalkwyk (Plymouth). I'm visiting Matt next week to shadow him, listen and learn and he plans to come visit and preach in Exeter on December 5th. I look forward to receiving him.
Our lead elder Andy Arscott is currently involved in helping Andrew Sampson who has recently planted in Truro, he is looking to gather and help a small team in Barnstaple and also looking to support Steve and Joy in Crediton. I think Andy will offer more and more to other Churches in the months and years to come.