Let’s look at modern day apostles … I believe that God is raising up many modern day apostles in every nation of the world today. These men love the Church and serve as fathers in the body of Christ. These apostles have a desire to train and equip young people, and raise up church leaders to come to maturity, to release them, and then move on to plant another church. Their greatest joy is to reproduce themselves in their spiritual children as they parent them to adulthood.
Apostles are spiritual entrepreneurs who love change and relish finding new ways of doing things. They are always coming up with new concepts and new patterns. They are willing to take chances, and at the same time willing to change. They are not satisfied with “the way things are” but burn with a greater vision of the Church that Jesus is building.
They “prepare God’s people for the work of service [ministry]” (Ephesians 4:11-13) as they are sent out wth an apostolic anointing that flows through them to “send” every believer.
The word ‘apostle’ comes from the Greek word ‘apostolos’ which is translated “sent one” and carries the understanding that the one being sent has the full power and authority of the One sending him. He is sent by God with a mandate from the Lord Jesus to build, plant, nurture, correct, and over see His Church. Apostles are called “wise master builders or spiritual architects” (1 Corinthians 3:10). They are foundation layers (Ephesians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 12:28-29). They have a desire to build something that did not exist before.
Peter Wagner describes a modern day apostle as:
“The gift of apostle is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the body of Christ to assume and exercise general leadership over a number of churches with an extraordinary authority in spiritual matters, that is spontaneously recognized and appreciated by those churches. Apostles are those whom God has given especially to pastors and church leaders. They are those to whom pastors and church leaders can go for counsel and help. They are peacemakers, troubleshooters, and problem solvers. They can make demands that may sound autocratic but that are gladly accepted because people recognize the gift and the authority it carries with it. They have the overall picture in focus and are not restricted in vision to the problems of one local church.” [Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow; Peter Wagner)
The gift of apostle often develops over a period of years. An individual may begin in ministry in one of the other gifts – teacher or pastor, for example. During this time, his ministry is developed and proven with further gifts that may become evident along the way. An apostle understands ministry from long, personal experience.
With Paul, there was a 17 year period between his conversion and commissioning to be an apostle. Paul was acknowledged by the other apostles after there was considerable evidence to show that he was doing the work of the ministry in obedience to God’s call.
An apostle is not self-appointed. He is chosen by the Lord Himself. There is no such thing as a true apostle who is self-appointed. God is the one who decides to whom He wishes to give the spiritual gift, calling, and role of apostle.
An apostle’s greatest responsibility is to the Lord who has called him. However, his call must be affirmed by those whom the Lord brings to him, by other apostles, and by spiritual leaders in the Body of Christ.
An apostolic calling does not automatically mean that the apostle has the right to exercise authority. His authority is by invitation. The church leaders who look to him for apostolic oversight invite him into their realm. He apostleship is proven over time, and they trust his authority and leadership. Remember, apostles are foundation layers and releasers. Their goal is to see the local church succeed. They are not into controlling leaders; their ministry is one of giving advice that will lead to success. It is a ministry based upon relationship and exercised within a sphere of influence. In this manner the ministry of an apostle is evidenced by his call from the Lord, the commissioning of the local church, the leaders of his family of churches and the affirmation of other leaders within the Body of Christ. Apostles help strengthen the local leadership.