There has been much written about the office and function of prophet in the past three decades. In this article, I will be writing regarding my own experience in understanding what the Bible says about the prophetic ministry, and I will attempt to connect this to today’s world.
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.
The so-called “millennium generation” has seemed to develop certain presuppositions that are presently a huge challenge that can hinder the continuation of the present apostolic reformation in North America and beyond.
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:
The Word of God teaches us that those set to minister to the body of Christ have a function based on their supernatural and motivational gifting. How someone is “wired” will determine how they view life, the church, the priorities of Christianity, and ministry.
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.)
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.
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