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:
1. The Connecting Apostle
These apostolic leaders are like the Apostle Barnabas mentioned in the Book of Acts. Barnabas was always connecting people together and was the one responsible for connecting Saul (later on he became the great Apostle Paul) to the Jerusalem church (Acts 9:26-27). These leaders love networking key people together, function with a strong heart of mercy (they give people second and third chances; read Acts 15:37-39), and have an amazing understanding of where to place people for the maximization of their gifts and callings.
This kind of leader also has a burden for unifying the Body of Christ and are adept at creating horizontal networks or associations of leaders in their regions, either for fellowship or to fulfill a joint mission (hence they are usually quite ecumenical).
2. The Truth Apostle
Paul the Apostle focused on teaching the truth and was committed to maturing people in the faith through his teaching ministry (Colossians 1:24-29). These are scholarly leaders who write much and attract people into their networks of influence through their great scholarship and practical insight. They also major on quality, doctrine and developing covenantal systems of engagement within their circles of influence.
What separates these from others with mere theological theory is their ability to form strong coalitions with high-level commitment to fulfilling the kingdom mandate of spreading the gospel.
3. The Prophetic Apostle
These are intuitive, spontaneous leaders who have an amazing ability to think quickly with words of wisdom from the Lord. They are great visionaries and dreamers and think ahead of the curve and have a great gift of exhortation and/or preaching extemporaneously. With their great gift of motivation, they are able to attract many leaders into their spheres of influence.
4. The Military Apostle
These are like military generals in the Body of Christ who create hierarchical networks with a strong top-down leadership approach. They usually lead strong vertical networks with high commitment and are not really interested in participating in ecumenical associations (unless it fits their particular agenda or they lead it). This is because they are so focused on their purpose and lack patience and grace to work with other strong leaders who have a different view of the church or who do not want to submit to their leadership.
5. The Cultural Apostle
These apostolic leaders attract leaders into their networks because of political/social issues such as traditional marriage, abortion, immigration, social justice and the like. They have a prophetic bent and are also great unifiers of like-minded leaders.
6. The Signs and Wonders Apostle
These apostolic leaders are like the Apostle Peter who spread the gospel by the use of extraordinary signs and wonders through the gift of faith (Acts 5:15). These leaders can draw great crowds, build large churches, and regularly take risks of faith regarding finances, building bigger buildings, as well as helping others walk in the supernatural. They will draw other pastors and leaders into their networks who are hungry for the supernatural.
7. The Community Apostle
These apostolic leaders dive into the economic, social and political lives of their communities with a goal of shepherding their cities, not just a congregation. Many of these leaders create programs that serve their communities with their churches or networks becoming key agents of change for surrounding areas.
8. The Missiological Apostle
This apostolic leader is focused on statistics, trends, demographics and cultural relevance, and helps lead innovative networks and/or organizations that lead the global charge to spread the gospel. They are very scholarly and introspective yet brilliant leaders who are totally focused upon kingdom expansion for the glory of God. They are great lecturers in conferences and provide a great service for the Body of Christ at large as they, like the sons of Issachar (1 Chron. 12:32), understand the times and know what the church ought to do.
9. The Shepherding Apostle
This is an apostolic leader who is more focused upon the lives of the leaders of their network than upon having a corporate mission. They have a paternal anointing and take the most joy in washing the feet of their sons and daughters so they fulfill their vision and destiny! This is perhaps the most lacking apostolic leader in the church today since there is a dearth in the church regarding true apostolic spiritual parenting.
10. The Entrepreneurial Apostle
This kind of apostolic leader is a hyphenated leader with a dual ministry of church and business who creates wealth through initiatives that support the work of the Kingdom of God. This kind of entrepreneurial ability attracts many leaders who desire an impartation from them so they can also be prosperous in everything they touch!
11. The Statesman Apostle
This kind of apostolic leader is a very wise person who is able to represent the Kingdom of God to other denominations and those in the political and social realms. They are generally very ecumenical and have a ministry of reconciliation and are sometimes called upon to be peacemakers between opposing groups. These leaders are usually respected by Christian and non-Christian alike and are by nature very ecumenical.
12. The Intercessory Apostle
These apostolic leaders spend much time in prayer and engage in high-level spiritual warfare so light can break through in dark places. They are able to attract enough people to start large organized networks of pastors and leaders who believe their main calling is to expand the kingdom through prayer and spiritual warfare strategies. What separates these from typical prophetic intercessors is that they not only have a great gift of prayer but also are able to create influential networks of prayer leaders.
In closing, many leaders I know probably stand in about three to four of the categories above. These twelve kinds were written for the sake of clarity but not meant to legalistically confine our thinking in such a way that limits our perspective regarding apostolic leadership. Also, there are probably many other categories others could think of, which would further complicate and mesh various anointing and ministry functions together.