“(The Church is) built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” Ephesians 2:20
The word “build” means to construct, to assemble, to join together, to mold, to form, to create, and to erect … by following a master design or a blueprint. And, it is good to recognize that the most important part of that building process is the foundation. As I am fond of saying: “You can’t build a skyscraper on a chicken coop foundation.”
The foundation that the structure rests upon must be well built and very solid and thus able to withstand the total weight of the building. The foundation must be the right one and built correctly being put solidly in place before the building goes up. This seems so obvious – first the foundation and then the building. However, apparently it is not as obvious as one might think as many do not follow this order when building.
Of course, it’s the building that people see. They don’t notice the foundation. It’s the building they admire – they don’t usually stop to admire the cement holding the structure up. But, unless the foundation is correct, the weight of the building will crush the foundation and the building will collapse.
Just as this is true when constructing a building – it is also true when planting or building a Church. And, today, many churches have been built without proper regard for the foundations. This has resulted and will result in many individual churches and numerous networks and denominations collapsing under the weight of people and programs that are soon going to be needed to care for new converts as they enter the life of the Church in the tens of thousands.
The word for ‘foundation’ is “themelious” and it means foundations, beginnings, or first principles. The Holy Spirit uses the five-fold gifts of the prophets and apostles to set out the first principles for a local church as it is being founded. This is only possible because of God’s grace upon their life…
1 Corinthians 3:10-11 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a masterbuilder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Paul taught that it was the grace of God on his life that enabled him to be a “wise masterbuilder” The word in the Greek for “masterbuilder” is ‘architekton’ from which we derive the English word architect. According to Paul’s letter to the Corinthian Church he was a masterbuilder or apostle and his task was to be a superintendent in the erecting of buildings, the person who commences a thing, the originator, the one who goes first, the activator, designer and planner.
In the natural – an architect would have numerous meetings with the owner of the building about to be built. Here he discovers what the building should look like and what the function of the building is to be. He then sits at his drafting table and draws up the blueprints so that everyone is on the same page and there is no confusion as to what this building will look like when finished. The owner approves, the seal of the architect is placed on the blueprint, the city is approached for approval. Then, the architect is hired to oversee the construction of the building project. He calls the various trades, gets prices from them, secures contracts, and gets everything lined up in a time sequence. He then supervises to make sure everyone is building according to the approved plans and the specifications of the blueprints. When everything is completed he turns the keys over the owner.
Just like an architect, an apostle has the ability to receive and implement God’s design for His Church. He sees the finished product and has the ability to involve all the necessary participants to complete the vision (blueprint). The apostle has the ability to see things not as they are, but how they are going to be.
So apostolic masterbuilders…
1> Receive revelation of divine strategies that enables a local Church to be planted that will be built upon the right foundations for that region and that will release that local assembly to be soul winners as they fulfill The Great Commission.
2> They are able to build into the fabric of the Church a process that will take believers from childhood to maturity and right into being equipped for ministry and the mission of the Church – workers in the harvest field.
3> Teach the local Church the value of being interrelated and networked with other like-minded believers and assemblies.
4> Equip the local Church – giving them apostolic direction and empowerment so that they are released into the harvest fields as quickly as possible.
5> Possess a willingness to entertain new possibilities and a readiness to explore unfamiliar, yet biblical, practices that would be unique to that specific location releasing life into the Body of Christ.
6> Are apostolic fathers to those being called into five-fold ministry and so will build relationships with these men and women, mentor them, and take them with him on ministry trips as part of the team to help them to develop and mature in their unique giftings.
7> Will appose false doctrines, false religious structures, apathy, lukewarmness, demonic spiritual governments, and false religious voices with a tremendous passion.
8> Are constantly adjusting or correcting the local Church as it is being built – when necessary.
The apostle is one who gathers (wins souls), teaches, equips, assigns ministry roles, targets the city’s unsaved, builds, shapes, deploys teams and disciples new believers. Their gifting and calling is unique and they are certainly foundational to each and every local Church. This is why God is reintroducing this calling and gift into His Church in this current season.