Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers. Acts 13:1
The Antioch church is the 2nd model of an apostolic church in the book of Acts.(Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus) It is an apostolic church and gives us the pattern of strong presbyteries and apostolic teams.
The apostolic revolves around the concept of sending and being sent. From Antioch, the team of Barnabas and Paul (and later Silas and Paul) were released for an apostolic work throughout the known world.
Antioch became an apostolic mission base that affected nations and planted strategic churches. It is our prototype church that models for us an effective base that serves to establish the Kingdom of God in different regions and nations. (Later Ephesus became a more complete model)
The account of the release of the first apostolic team is found in Acts 13. As certain prophets and teachers ministered to the Lord and fasted, Holy Spirit instructed them to release Barnabas and Paul.
This apostolic team was birthed and released out of an atmosphere of the prophetic and teaching gifts. These are two of the areas that need to be strengthened in the local church in order to transition into a strong apostolic position.
Let us begin with the teaching element.
- If a church is to transition into an apostolic position, the minds of the people must be renewed.
- People must receive a revelation of the present plans and purposes of God.
- Apostles and prophets have a unique anointing to reveal to the Church the mysteries of God.
- They are stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Corinthians 4:1).
- They help reveal to the Church the mysteries that were hidden in previous ages (Ephesians 3:5).
Once people understand the plans and purposes of the Lord, they will be able to walk in them. People need to understand what apostolic ministry is and how it relates to what the Lord is presently doing in the Church.
This is called re-laying apostolic foundations.
The previous foundation of the Church will not be sufficient to build and expand upon. A new foundation of truth must be laid in the Church. A foundation based on present truth must be put into believers.
New Testament example of the relaying of foundations:
When Paul visited Ephesus, he had to lay a new foundation within the believers. The previous foundation laid by Apollos was insufficient (Acts 19).
Apollos’ revelation was t sufficient, knowing only the baptism of John.
This is the case with many existing churches. The present foundation is insufficient to build what the Lord is revealing today.
For more than 23 years, we taught on the subject of apostolic ministry. The more we taught, the more revelation the Lord granted us (“Unto him that has shall more be given” ). We were faithful to teach what we knew in the beginning and God granted us more understanding as we continued to teach.
- At the time, there were not many books on the subject of apostles and apostolic ministry.
- Most believed and taught that this ministry was not for the present day Church.
- Now we have more material available than ever before. ( C Peter Wagner, Bill Hamon, Bryn Jones ………….)
The reason teaching is so important is because people will not be able to make the shift unless they FIRST shift in their minds.
- Most people have been trained to think pastoral.
- They have a parish mentality.
- A clergy and laity mentality (not Melchisedec)
- They join a church and spend all of their time and energy maintaining the church and getting their needs met.
- All the resources of most local churches, both natural and spiritual, go into maintaining the local church and meeting the needs of the members.
- People come each Sunday to hear preaching and teaching and receive healing and encouragement.
The pastor is expected to preach, counsel, marry, bury, and oversee the administration of the church. This is the way most believers have been trained, and this is their understanding of the church.
The apostolic mentality is quite different.
- The leader is released by the people into an apostolic function to the larger Body of Christ, and to geographical regions outside of the local church if that is their grace.
- The local church takes on the burden (prayer, fasting, intercession) of apostolic ministry to regions beyond and to the nations through the medium of the apostolic company.
- The people realize that the church is about more than having their needs met, but to also touch others with the resources that God has given by His grace.
- More ministries are released to meet this burden and fulfill this vision.
The new ministry concept becomes;
- The local church, (word, praise & worship & prayer & interces)
- The local or regional presbytery,
- The apostolic company (flexible according to assignment)
- The apostolic vision (put forth by apostolic father)
- The apostolic work. (practical outworking of the ministry)
The church no longer revolve around the ministry of one leader (outmoded concept), but around a team of leaders with apostolic vision that comes from a revelation of proper church government. (Melchisedec vs Aaron)
The vision to plant churches and send out teams is birthed in the heart of the people by seeing this pattern in the word of God.
In an apostolic church:
- The governing gifts of the apostle are released (Govern)
- The visionary gifts of the prophet are released (Guide)
- The teachers are released to expound apostolic doctrine, (Ground)
- The overseeing gifts of pastor is understood and received (Guard)
- The outreach gifts of evangelist are released. (Gather)
The people learn to draw from all of these gifts and not depend upon the senior elder for everything. The minds of the people must be renewed to accept and receive this order of ministry. They must be taught that this is God’s order, and much of what the Church has inherited was based on tradition more than revelation.
What we are seeing is a radical change in our whole concept of the Church.
Reformation always requires new teaching and restructuring of thought patterns.
The people will not be able to handle such change as long as they are bound to old thought patterns.
The leader must spend time teaching and training the peo¬ple in new truth so that the entire church can transition into a new position.
Teaching helps release the apostolic.
- Teaching gives us a foundation to build upon.
- Whatever we do must be based upon the Word.
- Once people are convinced that what we are doing is scriptural, they can confidently embrace what we are building.
- Teaching helps us to make the necessary adjustments and corrections needed to build accurately.
- Teaching exposes the false concepts and foundations that we have built upon in the past.
- Teaching causes us to operate in truth. Truth sets us free.
- A new liberty will come in releasing the church to obey the will of God.
- Teaching also fortifies us against the attacks of darkness that will come for obeying the truth.
- Once people know that what they are walking in is truth, they will not compromise because of persecution.
- There can be no doubt in the minds of the people that the changes are scriptural. They must be convinced that this is of God.
The people must also see the benefits of change.
- People will not change if there is no perception of the benefit.
- Why go through all the difficulty of changing if there is no benefit?
- They need to see the blessing of changing into an apostolic church.
- They must see the greater blessings and power that will flow through their church as a result of the change.
- Reformation always causes the blessings of God to be released in a greater way.
- Without reformation, the Church becomes stagnant and eventually loses the full blessing of God. (desolation)
- Through reformation, multitudes are blessed and released into their individual destinies.
- The Church also begins to walk in corporate destiny and release salvation and blessing to multitudes.
Transition is sometimes difficult because it requires humility and a willingness to make sacrifices. There will be a release of grace given by the Lord to make the changes.
- No man having drunk old wine straightway desires the new, for the old he says is better. People must develop an appetite for new wine.
- Teaching helps them develop a taste for the new wine.
- Once people hear about the restoration of apostles and the function of apostolic ministry, they will begin to develop a taste and appetite for it.
- The spiritual diet of the church must change.
- They cannot continue to hear the same messages of the past and be expected to change.
- They must receive present truth and an understanding of current moves.
Apostolic teams help to upgrade the revelation of the local church. Apostles and prophets help to bring a revelation of the current moves of God. Leaders often need outside help to move the people into a new position.
- Revelation is a spirit, and those who have revelation can impart it to the church.
- The people will see and understand things through the teaching of anointed vessels.
- Those who have already experienced this transition and are currently walking in these truths can impart them to the church.
- What it took these vessels years to move into, they will impart in a short period of time to those who desire the impartation.
An apostolic team is a group of fivefold ministers (led by an apostle) that can come into a region or a church and build apostolically.
The team comes to add to the church. They do not come to duplicate what the local leadership has already done.
They help the church break through into new realms of spiritual power and revelation.
We define building apostolically as the grace and ability to root out, pull down, destroy, throw down, build and plant (Jeremiah 1:10).
Apostles and apostolic teams have the authority to pull down and build up.
They pull down the strongholds of darkness and build up the saints. When a team comes into a region, there will be breakthroughs and impartations released that will add momentum to the work.
Right now, there are conferences being held throughout the world emphasizing the restoration of the apostolic ministry.
I am not referring to those who are just using the terminology, but those who gather with a genuine revelation along with a desire to learn more and facilitate this move around the world.