Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. (1 Cor. 12:28)
You have likely heard the term apostolic ministry used more in recent years. I am confident that we will hear and see more of it in the years to come. Through this term, I am referring to the primary goals and objectives of the apostle’s leadership, and therefore, the goals with which all the people under the apostle align themselves.
When Jesus taught the disciples to pray, He brought a key phrase into their core values. He told them to pray, “Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” His instructions taught them to long for Heaven on earth. I believe this core value is the primary objective of the apostle’s ministry. Apostolic leaders are focused on Heaven, and their mission is to see Heaven’s supernatural reality established on the earth. They long to see the evidence of Heaven’s touch in the environment they lead or influence. Having this motivation at the foundation of a church leads to an entirely different emphasis in the church’s governing priorities. The apostle will make the presence of God, the worship of God, and the agenda of Heaven the top priorities in the environment. An apostolic government is designed to protect these priorities.
The apostle Paul refers to himself as the “master builder” in First Corinthians 3:10. This is a translation of the Greek word architekton, the word from which we derive the English word “architect.” This perfectly describes the role of the apostolic ministry. It is as though God Himself has given blueprints to certain individuals to reproduce Heaven on the earth. Along with this blueprint, the anointing of the apostle contains a quality that stimulates and draws to the surface the diverse anointings in the people around him. As those around the apostle begin to manifest their own unique anointings, it creates an environment of “subcontractors” who help the “master builder” to realize the blueprints of Heaven.
The following are some of the key characteristics of an apostolic environment and culture:
- Worship and supernatural activity are priorities in the environment and the lifestyle of the saints, because God’s presence is the top priority.
- The saints are sent,as Jesus was,to destroy the works of the devil, including disease, sickness, and affliction. The saints live to demonstrate to all the people on earth that God is always the good guy and the devil is always the bad guy.
- The Kingdom of God is “joy in the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, church is to be a place of exceeding, abundant joy.
- God desires those who don’t yet know Him to come into a relationship with Him where the primary emphasis is love, not merely service.
- The Body of Christ is being built up and equipped to become a glorious and victorious Bride, no matter how the conditions of the earth may presently appear.
- The Church is to create global awakening and impact.
- Successive generations must be equipped to carry and demonstrate Kingdom revelation.
An apostolic environment is an exciting place, because the focus on Heaven allows prayer, worship, miracles, signs, and wonders to become normal in our daily lives. However, there is one particular area that the role of the apostle is not designed to address directly: the needs of people. Do you remember what the apostles said when confronted with the needs of the people in Acts 6:4? “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (NASB). They were acting like apostles. The increasing needs of the people were a distraction to their role and anointing. It’s not that they didn’t care about the people. They did something to make sure that quality men in their community addressed those needs. But an apostle has to have the freedom to pursue Heaven if he or she is effectively going to fulfill an apostolic call.
It is important to note that when an apostle pursues his or her calling without the other ministry graces in place, several real issues creep into the environment and threaten success for the apostolic leader. Unusual manifestations not found in the Bible, unprecedented scenarios and styles, an uncomfortable focus on the supernatural, and a noticeable inattention to the needs of the people begin to create friction for any apostolic leader. All the people can see is the distance growing between them and the apostle. As the people’s needs go unmet, they can begin to resent the way the apostle is choosing to use his or her time. Travel, meetings, connection with other apostolic leaders, and prayer seem like luxurious expenditures of time when the needs of the people are screaming in their own ears.
I’ve heard people say, “Signs and wonders are great. Miracles are amazing. I am happy for all those blind people who can see now. But we are going to another church where they care about people, where they teach the Bible, and where they are less emotional. This church doesn’t even have a way for new people to get plugged in.” This may seem petty, but it is a real complaint that moves people away from an apostolic leader and a revival environment after a while. Open heavens and open back doors are the sweet and sour of the apostolic leader. This is why they need the rest of the team that Paul lists in First Corinthians 12:28.
- Danny Silk, author of Culture of Honor