A great surge of apostolic restoration is taking place on the earth today. It is vital that we understand what God is doing and stand at the heart of itFor many years now we have been hearing of apostolic ministries rising up all over the world demonstrating the power of God and building the Church of Jesus Christ. In Africa, Asia, South America and elsewhere God is pouring out His Spirit in apostolic proportions.
The 21st century, I believe, will take this apostolic restoration still further. But, it will not be just about the emergence of fresh and dynamic apostolic ministries along the lines of Ephesians 4:11. Rather, we will see the fruit of these ministries as they work to equip the Body of Christ and bring forth an apostolic people. The Church will begin to emerge as a people equipped with the vitality of the Spirit ready to meet the challenge of the days in which we live.
A crucial part of this will be the new forms of apostolically-based church structures that the Holy Spirit will give to facilitate His move on the earth. Last January we announced the beginnings of our new apostolic structure which is now operating in London City Church. We have avoided pretentious titles but have taken seriously the apostolic call upon us as a church and upon our leaders.
LCC is now headed up by a team of Apostolic Overseers under my overall leadership. They in turn, are nurturing and leading apostolic teams who work under their direction. The entire network is now covered by men and women who are stepping into the fullness of the apostolic anointing that awaits us all.
Despite the current emphasis on apostolic ministry I find many people, including leaders, do not always have a clear concept of apostleship. Years ago, in Britain the word “apostle’ seemed to being used of a superior ranking, authority figure who heavily tithed churches and gave them rather controlling direction – even from great distances. Stories abound of people “being covered’ by “apostles’ who lived overseas. Churches could make no decision without first getting the word of the “apostle’. Sometimes thousands of pounds were spent on telephone bills! I know the apostle Paul wrote letters to direct the churches, especially those he founded. But he did this out of pastoral care and concern; not from some high-seated position. The local leaders were the governing body of the churches.
Again, in Britain, the idea that seemed to prevail a few years ago was that an apostle was someone who merely “covered’ churches. That is part of it. But the situation degenerated into a scramble to take over churches that others had laboured to plant and grow. And it became a status symbol among leaders as if their ministry was to be judged by how many churches they “covered’. This was more like Jezebel stealing Naboth’s vineyard than anything the New Testament speaks of in terms of apostolic leadership.
The New Testament does speak of apostleship – and not just the apostles of the first century who were called to deliver the infallible message of Jesus to the Church. Apostles are necessary in every age of the Church. They are not called today to bring primary revelation. That was, as Jude made clear, once-for-all completed and delivered to the Church. “…contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude 3
However, we need the same kind of leadership that the Church had in the beginning to set her on the sure footings of apostolic foundation. We need the apostolic vision of the hour to point us towards and bring us into God’s present day purposes. In short, a church without apostolic leadership is unstable, weak, directionless and ultimately ineffective.
At the core of apostolic ministry lies a cluster of God-given, Spirit produced abilities. And it’s these abilities we need to see released into the London City Church. They show us the heart of apostolic ministry.
The ability to be a father
This speaks of wise and mature leadership. It is about giving life and spiritual generation. It also has to do with nurture and protection. People need this level of leadership if they are going to rise in their potential as sons and daughters of the living God.
1 Corinthians 4:15 shows how rare true spiritual fatherhood is, “For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.”
Apostles, as fathers are spiritual generators. They carry the ability to get things started. They seem to make things happen. The prophets have a vital role in proclaiming the vision of the Lord, but apostles take the matter further. They are gifted to get something done. A vision has to be implemented. They have the capacity not only to see where God wants His people to be but also the wisdom to know how to get there. Apostles can inspire and motivate others towards the fulfillment of God-given goals.
The ability to be a builder
The apostle builds and establishes God’s work and God’s people. They are not content simply to shine in “superstar’ ministry or merely to preach to thousands. They have a burden to establish something. They see the value in working with others. They would agree with DL Moody who reportedly said, “I don’t want to do the work of 1,000 men. I would rather set 1,000 men to work.” The apostle Paul said, “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.” 1 Corinthians 3:10
We can see the difference between one who is an apostolic builder and one who isn’t in the lives of John Wesley and George Whitefield. Both ministered at the same time in the evangelical revival in Britain in the 1700’s. Both were extremely powerful preachers, and Whitefield was said to have been even more powerful than Wesley. However, it was Whitfield himself who remarked that by comparison to Wesley’s converts his were like a “rope of sand’. He didn’t mean his converts weren’t soundly saved. But he saw that Wesley had not been content just to win people to Christ. He had organised them into “cell groups’ and had trained them to become an army for the Lord. As a result, the Methodist movement was born and it carried on the work long after Wesley was dead. This activity is characteristic of truly apostolic ministry.
An apostle has a true pioneer spirit. It’s the ability to be a trail-blazer and go ahead of the others preparing the way for them. Apostles constantly breakthrough into new areas. They do what has not been done before. They set an example for others and become a model of how something can get done. KT has been for a long time such a model. Over the years, many have come in and been encouraged to see what God has done. And they have gone back and done it too!
We must not loose this pioneer calling. We are attempting to do something that I am not sure is being done anywhere else in Europe. We must continue to be a breakthrough church and open up areas of vast spiritual wasteland to the gospel in this city and beyond. We must continue to set the temperature in the spiritual atmosphere of London and not sit back and become a mere reflection of our environment.
The ability to be an enabler
All the ministry gifts of Christ mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 are enabling ministries sent to equip the body of Christ. But nowhere is this more apparent than in the ministry of the apostles. They do not attempt to do everything themselves. In fact their primary concern is to raise up others. They stand as Moses did on the hill upholding the Joshua’s in the valley as they engage the enemy. They take their place in the command centre as the general of the army. Apostolic ministry is gifted in strategic level leadership and has the potential to take whole cities and nations for God.
From all this we can easily see how much we need the full expression of this ministry in our midst. In this year of Apostolic Anointing I challenge every leader in our network to rise up and take hold of the apostolic anointing for their life. You must press in and rise to whatever level of apostolic ministry God is calling you to possess.