Written by Jeff Leake
Those who know me, know that over the years I have worked fairly hard to be non-controversial. My gifting leans toward ‘wisdom,’ and my skill set lends itself toward ‘peace-making.’ So I have tended to be a bit filtered in talking about subjects that might make others squirm or take issue with that is being said.
Maybe it’s because I am growing a little older? Or maybe it is the realization that some subjects, while provocative, have to be talked about directly. In fact, if some things are not addressed in a very plain and pointed fashion, the value or meaning in what needs to be said can get lost in the soft mushy center.
One of those topics has to do with a person or function that the New Testament calls ‘apostle.’ Ephesians 4 provides the context for what this gift is and how it functions:
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up… Ephesians 4:11-12
#1 – THE REVELATION – These verses describe five ministry gifts given to the church.
Each of the five gifts mentioned here are INDIVIDUALS that serve as Christ’s GIFTS to the church to EQUIP the people of God to do the work of the ministry. These gifts equip and mobilize ministry which helps the whole church become grounded, mature, unified, and effective.
#2 – THE FUNCTION – There are five different purposes mentioned.
- TEACHERS = equip people to LEARN MORE.
- PASTORS = equip people to CARE MORE.
- EVANGELISTS = equip people to WIN MORE.
- PROPHETS = equip people to EXPERIENCE MORE.
- APOSTLES = equip people to BREAKTHROUGH INTO MORE.
#3 – THE DEFINITION – There is a specific meaning given to the word.
In the Greek the word is ‘apostlos’ and it means ‘to be sent or to send’. Something apostolic happens when someone is sent into something that God designed/called them to do. Those who are apostles help identify who needs to be sent, into what, and when. They then mobilize the body to accomplish that purpose, and they do so with breakthrough authority.
It seems that God uses apostles to help equip, mobilize and set into place the other four ministry gifts (Teachers, Pastors, Evangelists, and Prophets). By their nature, apostles are necessary to all of the ministry gifts being maximized for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
#4 – THE CONSEQUENCE – when the apostolic gift is not recognized or encouraged to function.
- Sending activities slow down and everything becomes stationary.
- The focus becomes on maintaining rather than on moving ahead.
- Every gift starts to function independently of the others. Silos develop.
- New territory goes untaken.
- Church planting slows to almost nothing.
- The vision grows more inward.
- Potential leaders sit on the shelf waiting for someone to activate them.
This is why it is so essential that we bring APOSTOLIC back. As a church, we cannot afford to lose this gift and minimize this function. One of my passions is to give a voice to this need. I believe there are many leaders out there who have an apostolic gift and call, but don’t know it yet. I want to help activate you.
There are some younger leaders who are dreaming of what they can do with their lives. I want to share with you a vision for an enormous role that you can play in the Kingdom of God. There are other leaders who have been burned by this subject matter in the past, or by some abuse of this gift or definition – I want to help rebuild in you a confidence for how this can function Biblically, humbly and effectively.
Let’s bring apostolic back!