I heard a great prophetic teacher (Thamo Naidoo from South Africa) mention in his message that there is a difference between apostles of churches and apostles of Christ. He said that while there were many apostles of churches, there were only very few true apostles of Christ on the earth today. That one statement exploded on the inside of me and gave me much illumination. I had never heard anyone make this delineation before, but it makes a lot of sense to me. The following is what I have unpacked in the scriptures since Thamo made this statement.
There has been much confusion regarding the difference between apostolic and prophetic function.
Regarding these two functions, when we examine the Scriptures we find only a slight difference regarding ability in executive leadership roles, the main difference being the actual ministerial expression of leadership ability.
Many view prophetic ministers as folks who merely float from one place to the next as itinerant ministers who give “words of the Lord” to individuals and organizations, but have little or no ability to lead large, effective organizations. This definition is not sufficient in light of biblical teaching and models. Ministers who function like this may very well be “exhorters” who have a prophetic edge rather than functioning in the office of New Testament prophet.
The word of God teaches us that those set in to minister to the body of Christ have a function based on their supernatural and motivational giftings. How someone is “wired” will determine how they view life, the church, the priorities of Christianity, and ministry.
The following are notes from a message I gave several years ago at a Pinnacle Forum conference held in Nashville, Tennessee.
Most of you are in a position to change the world and you want to know how. Genesis 1:26-28 is the most important passage in scripture because it is the original covenant given to humankind that shows us why God created us and our mission on the earth. Consequently, a person can only grasp fragmented ontological aspects of the church, the cross, the resurrection and the great commission if we don’t use this passage as our primary starting point to interpret the rest of scripture. The following are things I believe we need to do now to fulfill this mandate:
There has been much said in recent years regarding the office of apostle and how they should function. Even mainline Evangelical leaders are using the term “apostolic” to describe certain types of leaders. Consequently I feel the need to put together a brief summary of what I want to call “apostolic truth,” which is a fancy way of saying what apostolic understanding should include, in my opinion.
There has been a movement the past four decades amongst various segments of the body of Christ towards embracing the way of Jesus and the apostles as found in the first century church. Extensive writing has been done in this regard by Jeff Reed, the founder of BILD International (www.bild.org) who has given his life over to writing about the Pauline model of church multiplication and leadership development. Most recently, Dr. C. Peter Wagner has started a network of leaders who have been launching a movement of apostolic centers in the United States and beyond! (Peter has a knack for sensing what is practically needed and then galvanizing a movement around it.)
The book of Nehemiah is an outstanding book for going from a compelling vision to its activation and implementation. Nehemiah was a type of a master builder apostle (1 Corinthians 3:10-14) who knew how to utilize teams, motivate the masses, and bring commitment through conviction. His leadership ability resulted in the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and his methods are replicable.
Today there are many people in the independent Evangelical and Pentecostal movements who start churches merely because they feel led to do so.
If there were a way to statistically track the outcomes of these self-ordained pastors, my educated guess, based on years of experience, is that most of these churches and/or ministries fail to last more than a few years.
As a person who has been part of the Apostolic Movement since 1989 I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. That being said, I believe all of the five-fold ministry gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 have always been present throughout church history (leaders were functioning these ways, whether they used these titles or not). Consequently, I have known many leaders who legitimately functioned in apostolic leadership and I have known many who have used the title without apostolic fruit and legitimacy.
I have been in the apostolic movement since the late 1980’s and have observed many kinds of apostolic leaders. By “apostolic” I am referring to a person who functions in the apostolic ministry gift as mentioned in Ephesians 4:11. They may also oversee an apostolic church that exerts great influence in their community, and/or lead a network of churches.
One size definitely doesn’t fit all in the apostolic, or in any of the other ministry gifts for that matter! They all have different modes of operation and/or function as well as different motivational gifts and bents. Of course, any true apostolic leader may have one or more of the following characteristics.
The following are the different kinds of apostolic leaders I have observed: