As I look at the Church today – in North America where I live and overseas in numerous nations where I work on a regular basis – I have noticed that many churches, groups, denominations and unions are “scrambling.” I can’t think of a better word for what I am seeing other than “scrambling.”
What they have always done is no longer working, no longer bringing the results they have been use to, expect, and need. What they do they do well – with excellence. But, the results are not there as they use to be. People are not getting saved and churches are not growing. In fact, in many cases, churches and ‘groups of churches’ have plateaued or are in serious decline – in numbers of people, finances, and community impact. And, in the worse case their numbers have decreased past the point of critical mass and they are on the verge of closing.
I believe this is a result of the lack of biblical understanding of how Jesus is building His Church. I believe this is because man has built his church and it has not and is not working. The Bible states in 1 Corinthians 12:28 that “First apostles, then prophets…” and yet most churches do not recognize the ministry of the apostle today and many others give lip-service to the “postion” but do not receive the ministry of the apostle. As a result the ministry of the apostle is not “foundational” in any way (Ephesians 2:20).
Example – and there are many – They invite an apostle to come and minister and receive them as a teacher, a prophet (a little more acceptable ‘title’ than apostle), or a pastor. So, they are not receiving or accepting the ministry of an apostle, which is foundational and focused, but are receiving the anointing and ministry of a preacher, prophet, pastor, teacher…
I understand that when the Holy Spirit is reintroducing and restoring a ministry into His Church that man’s church is going to reject what the Lord is doing. But, even in most local churches that have some understanding of the ministry and position of an apostle today and invite them to come and minister – it seems they are still, mentally and spiritually, receiving a teacher or pastor. Even in something as simple as they way they are introduced we can see this problem. I am introduced as a teacher, a pastor, a prophet, a prophet-apostle, an apostle-prophet, and – once in a while – as an apostle.
If people see me, for example, as a teacher (because apostles teach) then they receive a “teacher’s anointing.” If they see me as a prophet (because apostles are very prophetic) then they will receive a prophet’s reward and anointing. If they see me as a pastor…You get the idea. But, for a church to be healthy and moving in the same direction as the Lord of the Church they must receive the ministry of an apostle which is “first,” “foundational, “functional,” and “focused” asthe ministry of an apostle. Then that church can and does move forward in the plans and purposes of God for today – and will be healthy and whole, fruitful, and fulfilling the Great Commission ad mandate of His Church – to “go into all the world and make disciples.”
So, because the ministry of an apostle is so often missing or misunderstood I would like to spend some time during the next few weeks to simply look at the ministry of the apostle. I hope you receive as much from reading this series of blogs as I expect to receive writing them…