Ten Functions of an Apostolic Team

Apostolic team defined: “a band of men and women called together by God to advance the kingdom and glorify God by making disciples of lost people and planting and multiplying churches”. Romans 15:7-20

The primary difference between elders serving in a local church and an apostolic team is vision and function. Elders serve by equipping, discipling and overseeing the members of a local church. Apostolic teams focus on pioneering amongst those who have not yet heard the good news. Apostolic teams give oversight to pioneering movements; they cultivate a set of core values that empower such a movement.

Local church elders care for the flock under their charge; an apostolic team does the same thing but also cultivates a church planting culture of faith and vision to reach those who have never heard the good news. A local church eldership can grow into an apostolic team in time if they cultivate apostolic values and vision, and recognize and affirm apostles and prophets to lead the team and lay foundations in their movement.

Apostolic teams give oversight to pioneering church planting movements; they cultivate a set of core values that empower such a movement.

Apostolic teams are focused. They are not satisfied with just overseeing the affairs of a local church. They burn with a desire to plant churches and reach those outside the influence of the gospel, especially those who have never heard of God’s love in Christ.

Apostolic teams are not apostolic because the team members are prophets or apostles. They are apostolic because they have a vision to plant churches where the gospel has not yet been proclaimed. You can be an apostle by gifting and fail to fulfill the purpose of your gift. Apostles are pioneers by calling, but they start new churches to fulfill their calling.

I have a very simple way of defining apostolic teams: they do what apostles did in the book of Acts. They preach the gospel, make disciples for Christ, plant churches and appoint and oversee elders of local churches. They believe God for the impossible and pull down Satan’s strongholds amongst the unreached and the unchurched. They suffer and sacrifice for what they believe. In short, they win, gather, and multiply disciples and churches for Jesus – especially where people are unchurched and unreached.

Ten functions of an apostolic team:

• Impart core values to empower the movement – Acts 2-:17-32 

• Inspire a common vision - 1 Corinthians 3:5-17 

• Model what they believe – 1 Thessalonians 1:5-16, 1 Corinthians 4:16

• Equip & empower others for ministry – 2 Timothy 2:2, Ephesians 4 

• Guard against compromise – 1 Timothy 6:20

• Strengthen people’s hearts as they live radically for God – Philippians 4:2, 6-7

• Cultivate a culture transparency and accountability – Philippians 2:1-11

• Facilitate hearing God in His word – 2 Timothy 3:16

• Listen to the spirit together – Acts 13:1-3

• Learn & grow together – Luke 10:17-20

 

 

 

Acts 13 Apostolic Leadership Qualities

Most leadership experts I know define leadership as influence. That is one aspect of it, but I don’t think it’s the whole story. Based on a cateful look at Acts 13:1-3 we find apostolic leaders have seven qualities: Leaders have HS insight. They listen to God. Leaders demonstrate initiative. They take action. Leaders exert influence. They have spiritual ambition. Leaders have impact. They expect results. Leaders exercise integrity. They have godly character. Leaders take arrows. They can handle criticism. Leaders make decisions. They are decisive.

Apostolic Passion

What is Apostolic Passion?

 

The term "passion" is used to describe everything from romance to

hunger pangs. I don't know what it means to you, but for me passion

means whatever a person is willing to suffer for. In fact, that's the

root meaning of the word. It comes from the Latin paserre, to suffer.

It is what you hunger for so intensely that you will sacrifice

anything to have it.

 

The word "apostle" means a sent one, a messenger. To be “apostolic” means we are sent people. The apostolic calling of the church includes forging new ways for how we do church and pioneering new places where we do church. To be apostolic is to be radical, to be adventurous, to think strategically and to listen prophetically.

 

"Apostolic Passion," therefore, is a deliberate, intentional choice to live for the worship of Jesus in the nations. It has to do with being committed to the point of death to spreading His glory. It's the quality of those who are on fire for Jesus, who dream of the whole earth being covered with the Glory of the Lord.

 

I know when apostolic passion has died in my heart. It happens when I

don't spend my quiet time dreaming of the time when Jesus will be

worshipped in languages that aren't yet heard in heaven. I know it's

missing from my life when I sing about heaven, but live as if earth is

my home. Apostolic passion is dead in my heart when I dream more about

sports, toys, places to go and people to see, than I do about the

nations worshipping Jesus.

 

I have lost it, too, when I make decisions based on the danger

involved, not the glory God will get. Those who have apostolic passion

are planning to go, but willing to stay. You know you have it when you

are deeply disappointed that God has not called you to leave your home

and get out among those who have never heard His name. If you will not

suffer and sacrifice for something, you are not passionate about it.

If you say you will do anything for Jesus, but you don't suffer for

Him then you aren't really passionate about Him and His purposes on

earth.

 

If you don't have it, how do you go about getting this thing called

apostolic passion? Is it like ordering pizza at the door in 30 minutes

or less, guaranteed? Is there an 800 number to call? Or better yet,

just send us your special gift of $15 or more, and we'll rush you some

passion, express delivery, overnight mail. If you're like me, you need

help figuring out how to grow this thing called passion. I am

motivated by reading how the apostle Paul got it. He chose it. And one he received it, he nurtured and kept it alive.

 

Paul says in Romans 15 that it is his ambition, his passion, if you

will to make Christ known. It began for him with a revelation of Jesus

that he nurtured all his adult life. Paul not only encountered Christ

on the road to Damascus, he kept on meeting Jesus every day. This

revelation of Jesus, and his study of God's purposes, gave birth to

Paul's apostolic passion. Knowing Jesus and making Him known consumed

the rest of Paul's life. He "gloried in Christ Jesus in his service to

God" (Rom 15:17). By comparison, everything else was dung, garbage,

stinking refuse. Paul's ambition was born from his understanding that

God longed for His Son to be glorified in the nations. Paul did not waste his passion, but focused it on spreading the glory of God to the Gentiles, that they "…might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit" (Rom 15:16).

 

Human enthusiasm cannot sustain apostolic passion. When God invests

His own passion in you, you must build and develop what God has given you. Four things will help make that happen:

 

1. Apostolic Abandonment

 

Too many people want the fruit of Paul's ministry without paying the

price that Paul paid. He died. He died to everything. He died daily.

He was crucified with Christ. This strong-willed, opinionated man knew

that he must die to self. He knew that in his flesh, he couldn't

generate the revelation of Jesus; he couldn't sustain the heart of

Christ. So he died. He abandoned his life. He abandoned himself.

 

We live in a world of competing passions. If we do not die to self and

fill our lives with the consuming passion of the worship of God in the

nations, we will end up with other passions. It's possible to deceive

ourselves into thinking we have Biblical passions when, in reality,

all we have done is to baptize the values of our culture and give them

Christian names. We will have chosen apostolic passion only when our

hearts are filled with God's desire for His Son to be worshipped in the

nations.

 

May I encourage you, dear friend, to give up your life? I challenge

you to pray this prayer: "Lord, be ruthless with me in revealing my

selfish ambition and my lack of willingness to die to myself." I

guarantee that He will answer your prayer and quickly.

 

2. Apostolic Focus

 

The greatest enemy of the ambition to see Jesus worshiped in the

nations is lack of focus. You can run around expending energy on all

sorts of good ministries, and not get one step closer to the nations.

I don't have anything against all the projects and ministries out

there done in God’s name. God's people do them, and I don't question their obedience to God. But the Church has an apostolic calling, an apostolic mission. God has called us to the nations. We must focus, or we won't obey.

 

Focus on what? I believe God wants a people for Himself. Activity for God

without a sharing God’s passion to have a people for Himself is good

activity, but it’s not the mission of God. You can have evangelism without fulfilling God’s mission. You can care for the poor without connecting with God’s mission. You can do short-term outreach without obeying God’s mission.

 

Everything we do must lead to making, gathering, teaching and baptizing disciples for Jesus. Some people are under the illusion they need a special calling to save souls, to disciple them, and to get them together in communities of faith that are committed to loving and obeying Jesus.

Whatever you do for Jesus, if we are to obey the great commission it must lead to this one thing: that Jesus has more worshippers who know, love and obey him. Call that what you will. I call it church planting. If that term does not appeal to you, choose another. But make sure that above all things you do what he commanded us to do: go, teach, baptize and make disciples.

 

That is apostolic focus.

 

3. Apostolic Praying

 

A young man in Bible school offered to help David Wilkerson years ago

when he was ministering on the streets of New York City. Wilkerson

asked him how much time he spent in prayer. The young student

estimated about 20 minutes a day. Wilkerson told him, "Go back, young

man. Go back for a month and pray two hours a day, every day for 30

days. When you've done that, come back. Come back, and I might

consider turning you loose on the streets where there is murder, rape,

violence and danger. If I sent you out now on 20 minutes a day, I'd be

sending a soldier into battle without any weapons, and you would get

killed."

 

You can get into heaven, my friend, without a lot of prayer. You can

have a one-minute quiet time every day and God will still love you.

But you won't hear a "well done, good and faithful servant" on

one-minute conversations with God. And you certainly can't make it on

that kind of prayer life in the hard places where Jesus is not known

or worshipped. Here's a challenge for you: Read everything Paul says

about prayer, then ask yourself, "Am I willing to pray like that?"

Paul said that he prayed "night and day with tears without ceasing

with thankfulness in the Spirit constantly boldly for godly sorrow

against the evil one."

 

4. Apostolic Decision-Making

 

If you live without a vision of the glory of God filling the whole

earth, you are in danger of serving your own dreams of greatness, as

you wait to do "the next thing" God tells you. There are too many

over-fed, under-motivated Christians hiding behind the excuse that God

has not spoken to them. They are waiting to hear voices or see

dreams all the while living to make money, to provide for their future,

to dress well and have fun.

 

The Apostle Paul was guided by his passions. Acts 20 and 21 tell of

his determination to go to Jerusalem despite his own personal

anticipation of suffering, the warnings of true prophets, and the

intense disapproval of his friends. Why would Paul go against his own

intuition let alone the urgings of prophets and weeping entreaties of

close friends? He had a revelation of greater priority, of greater

motivation: the glory of God.

 

Apostolic decision-making starts with a passion for God's glory in the

nations, then asks: "Where shall I serve you?" Most people do the

opposite. They ask the where-and-when questions without a revelation

of His glory in the nations. Is it any wonder they never hear God say

"go!" They have not cultivated a passion for the passions of God. Lesser desires are holding them captive.

 

Present your gifts, vocations and talents to the Lord. Press into God.

Stay there until you long to go out in His name. Remain there and

nurture the longing to see the earth bathed with His praise. Only then

will you be able to trust your heart if you hear God say, "stay." Only

those who long to broadcast His glory to the nations have the right to

stay in this nation.

 

If you have apostolic passion, you are one of the most dangerous

people on the planet. The world no longer rules your heart. You are no

longer seduced by getting and gaining but devoted to spreading and

proclaiming the glory of God in the nations. You live as a pilgrim,

unattached to the cares of this world. You are not afraid of loss. You

even dare to believe you may be given the privilege of dying to spread

His fame on the earth. The Father's passions have become your

passions. You find your satisfaction and significance in Him. You

believe He is with you always, to the end of life itself. You are sold

out to God, and you live for the Lamb. Satan fears you, and the angels

applaud you.

 

Your greatest dream is that His name will be praised in languages

never before heard in heaven. Your reward is the look of pure delight

you anticipate seeing in His eyes when you lay at His feet and the

just reward of His suffering: the worship of the redeemed.

 

You have apostolic passion!

 

Floyd McClung

Director

All Nations

 

 

Five Stages of an Apostolic Movement

Five Stages of Growth of an Apostolic Movement

 

By Floyd McClung

 

One has to look no further than the Book of Acts to find a pattern of how apostolic movements evolve and develop. The five stages of growth described below are based on the assumption that just as there are natural stages of growth for us as human beings, so God has designed movements to evolve and growth through natural growth stages.  Each stage of growth is intended by God to teach us certain life skills and character traits that prepare us for the next stage of life.

Each new stage is preceded by a crisis, and if that crisis is seen as an opportunity and not a threat, the movement can successfully navigate the crisis and move into the next stage with fresh understanding and wisdom.

It is possible for movements to grow unequally, that is, they can move from one stage to another without learning all the lessons that should be learned in the previous stages. This “uneven” development is quite normal in human development as well. An adolescent can have the physical maturity of an adult, but the emotional maturity of a child.

However, if an apostolic movement is to survive, it will have to assess it’s strengths and weaknesses on a regular basis, and adjust accordingly. Wise movement leaders draw on the wisdom of others from outside their movement.

Stage One - Creativity – Acts 1-5 – Jerusalem

This stage is characterized by creativity, fresh life, new initiatives of advancing the gospel, and a strong sense of God’s presence and blessing. There is happy chaos in this stage of new beginnings, but the new life and blessings are so great that they overshadow the weaknesses of the movement.

Leadership presence and style in the first stage in Acts was strong, active, directive, but non-hierarchical. This allowed the apostles to serve the fresh move of God’s Spirit, but not to the extent that they created dependence on them as leaders. The spontaneous growth of the churches meeting in homes was encouraged. These house churches were holistic in that they integrated all three major components of church: worship, mission and community. Disciple making was not confined to a structure but a spontaneous way of life in the church.

Challenge to move into next the next season: The Challenge of Re-structuring

To move into the next season of life in the church there was a great need to release new leaders, create more systems & re-structure to respond to the challenges of a growing church movement. That included delegating leadership, helping existing members/leaders find the right role and place for their gifts, and continuing efforts to preach the good news of Jesus far and wide. In one sense, the creative stage of growth and the building stage, described below, are complimentary and essential for the church to move into the third stage of reproduction. Failure to encourage creativity, and failure to build systems and structures to serve the movement, will inevitably lead to slowing down the growth and to eventual death of the movement.

Stage Two - Building – Acts 6-12 – Jerusalem, Judea & Samaria

This stage of growth requires re-structuring to accommodate growth, and in most instances, suffering and sacrifice to advance the gospel. While restructuring, to meet the needs of a growing church movement, the apostles in the book of Acts continued to preach the gospel. Don’t relent in apostolic thrust during seasons of alignment and restructuring or the momentum of apostolic mission will be lost. Acts 6:5-7 are key verses. Some of the men chosen to carry out the practical work of the church were also apostles. The goal of building/restructuring must always be reproduction. Those in management roles should carry the DNA of the movement with just as much fervor as those in senior apostolic leadership.

Challenge to move into the next season: Challenge of Releasing

To release your best people, trust God to multiply more leaders. Releasing leaders involves first of all prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit, then choosing to trust God for more leaders to take their place. If you hold on to them, you will lose them.

Stage Three - Reproduction – Acts 13 – 28 – Antioch, Asia, Europe, Africa

In the third stage, a movement hits it’s stride as a rapid multi-generational growth takes place. The mother church is no longer the sole center of mission in this stage. There are multiple mother churches and centers of mission that are growing and reproducing. Senior leaders cannot control this life, but they can and should serve it through discipling leaders, teaching, visiting, writing, and speaking into the life of leaders of new “movements within the movement”.

Senior leaders must continue to model the values and vision for the movement to reproduce the same DNA. This may call for key leaders to move out in new pioneering initiatives, leaving behind the comfort of established roles of leadership. It will definitely require all the leaders to be hands on in making disciples among the lost. Paul and Barnabas, pastoral leaders in the church in Antioch, led new church planting initiatives and mission trips to regions beyond, and thus reenergized the church in Antioch, but also impacted the movement in Jerusalem.

Challenge to move into the next season: Challenge of Maturity

New life means new problems. The vision and values must be strengthened and deepened in multiple cultures and locations as a movement grows. Traveling teams of visiting pastors, teachers, prophets, evangelist and apostles are needed.  Some of the challenges to be overcome include nationalism, parochialism, false teaching, leadership compromise, loss of vision, and conflict.

Stage Four - Coordination – Acts 15 – Jerusalem

When movements are growing rapidly in multiple locations, one of the challenges is maintaining doctrinal purity and leadership purity/integrity. Such challenges must be responded to promptly, but without over-reaction. The apostles and elders did not over-react to doctrinal crisis in the early church, nor did they create unnecessary rules and requirements to choke the movement’s growth. They met, listened, debated, and then communicated their decisions promptly, wisely, clearly, and personally. The crisis of doctrinal conflict brought the leaders of the early churches together, it did not separate them. Every apostolic movement will face similar crisis if it is growing rapidly. Senior leaders in the movement would be wise to do what the apostles did in Acts 15: listen, debate, understand, and submit to wise senior leadership, like that of James when he summarized the essence of the issue they faced, and then gave clear direction for moving forward in unity. If necessary, call in such leaders from outside the movement to help it overcome the crisis, but make sure such leaders carry the similar apostolic DNA.

Challenge to move into next season: Challenge of Kingdom Collaboration

Leaders in movements and apostolic networks must reach out to one another and build across network and movement lines to share resources and lessons learned from strategic breakthroughs. This will require a willingness to not take credit for breakthroughs, not brand the movements they serve, and see themselves as under leaders, not over leaders.

Stage Five - Kingdom Collaboration–Acts 20-28 Romans 15-16 Rome, Spain, Africa

Every movement must be reborn in every generation. Church must continually be re-imagined and re-invented. The way this happened in the book of Acts was to continually start new church planting movements, and to provide training and fresh beginnings within each movement as it plateaued. New movements are born out of the same values but in with different emphasis and different expression, and often, in different locations. There is a temptation in existing movement for the new apostolic leaders to turn their apostolic fervor and creativity inward, and not outward toward the lost. If the apostolic gifts of the church are not directed toward church planting, the creativity of those gifts are often dissipated on creating more programs that do not lead to disciple making outside the church walls. Apostles will pioneer! The challenge is to pioneer new churches in places where the gospel has not yet gone.

Challenge to move into next season: Release and Encourage Emerging Apostolic Leaders to Start New Church Planting Movements

 

 

 

The Intersection of the Prophetic & Apostolic Ministries

In the below discussion, Joe Ewen and I discuss the prophetic & apostolic ministries, specifically targeting the tensions that exist between the two and how they are each vital to ministry within the local church.  The format was quite loose: Joe spent about 20 minutes discussing prophetic ministry and I spent 20 minutes on apostolic ministry and then we open the floor to questions and discussions from a crowd of about 50 local church leaders based in the Cape Town area of South Africa.  Feel free to download, listen and share widely as we feel that this is an important discussion to have within the church in our time. Click below to hear it in its entirety! Floyd & Joe: The Intersection of the Prophetic & Apostolic

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13