Apostolic Roundtable

Last year I was invited to attend an apostolic rountable discussion in Indiana and to visit with one of the senior apostles of the network which was sponsoring this event. So, I flew to Ohio and met for a day with the leader and attended worship in one of their network’s church plants that he was overseeing. Then off we went to Indiana where, for three days, senior apostles and their disciples (26 in total) met in a hotel boardroom to worship, pray, learn together, and minister to the Lord and to one another. Then, back in Ohio I had a day with three of the leaders to fellowship, ask questions, learn how they do things, and genreally build relationally before flying back home on the late flight. It was a very powerful time for me and a real encouragement. (Pictured above – a time of powerful prophetic ministry over one of those in attendance).

At the end of March I will be heading to Ohio and then to Indiana for the second time. Again, the apostolic roundtable is meeting and I have been invited to attend. This time I will be going with another apostolic man from our network of churches with whom I work very closely both here and overseas. A great man of God who is a real encouragement to me and I want him to be blessed and to benefit from being with these senior statesmen of the Kingdom and being part of this experience with me. Shared experiences are always the most beneficial.

It is really good for apostles from different networks and different branches of the Christian Church to come together and to seek the Lord and His heart for His Church in unity with one another. No agendas, no superstars, no leader other than the Holy Spirit, nothing to prove and hearts open to whatever the Lord may be saying and doing. Powerful.

I would appreciate your prayers for Bob and myself as we prepare our hearts and accomplish what needs to be done in our offices and studies to free this time up so that we are not taking “work” with us to this special time set aside for fellowship with the Holy Spirit and with some key men in the Kingdom.

Buildings – Budgets – Bodies

There is an established fact. People look at churches and they determine whether it is successful by the buildings they own and the number of people (bodies) attending. Pastors do the same – get two together on a Monday for coffee and you will inevitably hear one ask the other how they are are doing. Instead of answering on a personal level they will tell you how Sunday went. The answer is always includes how many people were in attendance.

People and pastors determine if a church is a success by the size of their physical plant and the number of people attending. Pastors are also concened with a third “b” and that is the size of the budgets by which the church operates.

I recently worked twice for a local church – once in August and once in February – giving them my best. Each time it was a 15 hour Sunday with services, teaching, ministering prophetically, meeting personally with the pastors, meeting with their leadership group and generally working myself into exhaustion. I received nothing in the form of a love offering or even a small amount to help cover the costs of the day – travel, meals, Diet Coke and so on. When asked about it later on they commented that the budget (one of three “b”) barely allowed them to pay the mortgage and they were unable to give me anything.

Here’s a thought – a workman is worthy of his hire and so maybe you should not invite someone to minister who you cannot then honor in some way for the work he did among your people and for you. There was a full house at all events on both days (bodies) and they have a wonderful and beautiful building (the second “b”) but their budget (the third ‘B’) was so tight that were unable to pay something towards the expenses incurred.

Reading late last night – a copy of Christianity Today for February 2010 who had an interesting “Go Figure” statistic. It was on “giving” or budgets …
$900,000 Amont that Rick Warren asked Saddleback Church to give in 48 hours to meet an end-of-year deficit, in a December 30, email.
$2.4 million – amount church members gave by the end of December 31. Nearly all the donations were less than $1,000 each.

Impressive, right? Well, of course it is! See “bodies” giving “budgets” to help pay for the “buildings” and programs of the local church.

I wonder what God thinks? How does He judge whether a church is successful or not? I wonder if He is as interested in budgets, buildings and bodies as we are? Is He looking for quantity or quality or both? Do numbers and size matter to him? What is He impressed with? What does He deem to be important?

We should take this line of inquiry a step further. Christians here in North America (and its true in Eastern Europe as well) seem to focus on externals – for guys…how long is the hair? For ladies – in some churches the hair must be done up in a bun and long dress to your ankles are the key to acceptance. Tattoos and piercings are frowned upon, style and type of music you listen to (let’s not even go there), attend twice on Sunday (morning and evening) and mid-week on a Wednesday, live by a long list of ‘do’s and don’ts’, tithe and give an offering each time you come, belong to a cell group or home fellowship, don’t go to movie theatres, play cards, buy a lottery ticket, drink, smoke or run around with those who do. On and on the list goes – and if you love the right way -their way – then you are in good standing with God and the local church leadership.

Add or subtract whatever you want from the list – each local church and their leadership have their own list of acceptable and unacceptable behavior – a holiness code designed to help you to be right with God and His Church.

Amazing – like buildings, bodies and budgets we are determining the success of a Church or a Christian by external things – appearances, actions, behaviour, and life-style. Yet, I believe the Bible states that God does not look at the outward appearance but at the heart and, if the heart is right, then the Lord is pleased.

King David sinned with Bathsheba and then killed her husband to cover it up, lied to a prophet, deceived a nation… but he was a “man after God’s own heart”, considered a friend of God’s, and God honored him and prospered him. God did not look at the outward appearance and actions but at the heart – and David repented with godly sorrow before the Lord (Psalm 51) and so his heart was right and God was pleased.

Maybe it is time in this “success driven” society and Church we currently have to take a look at how we measure success and what standards we use to “judge” people. Maybe, just maybe, it is time to move away from worldly standards that we use to measure “success” and look towards things that God looks for – faithfulness among others. The bragging about bodies, buildings and budgets would stop. And we could then be about our Father’s business of loving, accepting and forgiving people so that they can experience God’s love.