Tuesday, December 29, 2009


“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,” 1:1

Don’t you love the detail of the text? Whilst this is a common greeting of the day, it is also a most weighty moment that leads us into the heart of this book. This truth wrapped in its historical context, draws us into the relationship between the apostles and the local church.

Let’s step back for a moment and address the matter of apostleship. I believe it is erroneous to dismiss this ascension gift given to men [Eph 4] with casual commentary that apostles ceased to exist after the scriptures were recorded. As if all that Jesus had in mind was apostles for one generation alone. Because of rash decisions concerning the gift of the apostle we find the church at large now speaking of missionaries or mega-church leaders as the replacements for the role of the apostle. These simplistic comments demean the most noble office, which the Father designed to be key and pivotal to the church until Christ’s returns.

May I suggest these major conversation points related to our text?

1. Ephesians 2:20 tells us that every church and believer need the foundations that were laid by apostles and prophets – this is not just within the writing of the Old and New Testament. These gifts (ie. Apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher) come in the form of men, earthly vessels, appointed “by the will of God”. We can only be who and what God has appointed us to be – not what men say we are or even what we would like to be!

2. Philippians 1:5 speaks of “your partnership in the gospel”. This is a most wonderful Kodak moment. It seems like the Father creates a most intimate relationship between local churches and apostles, proving its importance by beginning almost every epistle with the stating of that essential partnership. The structure of the partnership however is not meant to control local leaders and churches, or to create ongoing and complete dependence, and it is certainly not to establish organizations or denominations. Apostles are spoken of as being “first of all” in 1 Corinthians 12 but not “over all”. They come alongside church plants, or replants, yet like parents, their desire is that these churches would become more and more mature and in turn require them less and less. It seems like every local church in scripture worked with two or three apostles – great case studies for this can be found in Corinth and Thessalonica.

3. Ephesians 4 clearly announces to us that every local community needs all five of these gifts operating to become mature, lacking nothing, till we reach the unity of the faith.

Allow me to focus on the apostles for just a moment. I am so intrigued at how many leaders, who profess to be ‘Bible folk’, are blinded to the weighty role that apostles play in church life. These leaders or movements are so comfortable with either ‘abiblical’ or ‘unbiblcal’ leadership titles as if to suggest that the scripture is silent on these matters. So movements are led by ‘presidents’, ‘superintendents’, or ‘team leaders’ rather than revisiting the conversation and the scriptures that deal with these 5 fold giftings/roles. The Galatians 2 world of apostolic recognition has been replaced by election or succession, and we wonder why things go wrong.

Without going into a larger study on apostles at this time, an overview of an apo job description, seems to include around twelve elements. Some emphasize the power quotient of Paul’s writings to the Corinthians. Others place huge importance on his theology, and so on. Obviously these are important. However the most strategic part and yet most often forgotten, is that a true apostle is a “master builder” or “expert builder” as seen in 1 Cor 3:10-15. The notion here is of one person being both architect and engineer as was clear and evident in scripture. The entrepreneur, pioneer, strategic thinker, designer is a leader who can convert ‘the vision’ into measurable steps. He can also help recognize, train, and release leaders as part of the gift of the apostle.

It is not enough that they are fathers – all Eph 4 giftings should be that. It is not enough that they operate in the miraculous; all Eph 4 giftings should do that. It is not enough that they are solid in theology and truth – that is necessary for all the 5 fold offices. They are different in that God has empowered them with the unique anointing to think, talk, dream, decide with these building abilities that become evident in the churches they work with - Paul says of these churches that they are the “seal of our apostleship” 1 Cor 9:2. When you look over a leaders shoulder, what is seen in their wake will determine whether or not these men are apostles. Is evidence of wholeness, maturity and strategic impact?

Here are some ‘beware of’ bits and pieces that will hopefully trigger even more conversations concerning the gift of the apostle:

1. Beware of the danger of demeaning this great ascension gift by calling it a ‘missionary’, ‘special assignment’, ‘team leader’, and ‘entrepreneur’. The anointing and appointing of the apostle is still God’s prerogative.

2. Beware of believing that the body of Christ [personal or community] can get by without this master builder – this borders on raw arrogance.

3. Beware of identifying ‘apostles’ based on any ingredients other than a true biblical job description – it is never the size of the church, the amount of success, the type of profile, or being a father, in age or experience or even self appointment.

4. Beware of the drift to letting this most noble office become abused by becoming ‘dictators’, ‘CEO’s’, ‘top down leadership models’, ‘unilateral decision makers’. Biblically, apostles are not ‘over all’ but ‘first of all – scum of the earth”.

Lets see how this works out in this epistle…

Sunday, December 27, 2009


1983 was a huge year for me. It was the year that a group of friends found each other and a Christian community began to evolve. Ultimately called Glenridge Church International, our passion transcended our knowledge, our zeal covered over our ignorance. I was teaching at Durban High School whilst we set out on this journey of planting this little church. It was also the year that a few of us decided to run the ultra marathon between Durban and Pietermaritzburg in South Africa. The uphill climb of around 89 kilometers had us out on the road early in the mornings. The Saturday early morning training runs of 20 kms or so, had us out as the sun was peeping out of the Indian Ocean horizon. Great days. Great memories.

It was on one of these runs that a friend and I were talking about the scriptures. We were both passionate about Jesus, excited about the church plant yet we were also thoroughly ignorant on so much of this spiritual journey. He asked me if I believed that the scriptures were the Word of God, the true text around which we could evolve our lives and the plant. We were running down from 45th Cutting Rd. huffing after a very good run, when I casually remarked that I wasn’t really sure. He stopped in mid stride, turned to me and said: “It is imperative that you settle that – for both our sake”. I was struck cold. My friends were looking to me for spiritual leadership. I was no longer simply a member of the crew. They needed me to settle this weighty matter. What did I believe about the scripture? Was it God’s word? Could I rest the whole of my life, present and future, on these sacred writings? Could we have confidence in these stories to fully discover this Jesus whom we loved? Would we be courageous enough to design our community based on this literature?

For the last 26 years I have become increasingly more intoxicated by the scriptures. That day, on the road to Durban, my life was transformed. Discovering the truth of the text; inspired, inerrant, sharper than any two edged sword has captured me. Slogans like “the bible plus nothing, the bible minus nothing” have been simplistic and yet profoundly helpful. However there has been a deep driving quest to see scripture as the matrix by which all that we do it measured. From worship to prayers, from government to ethics, from love to finances and everything in between; the word of God has enslaved us with this uncompromising freedom.

Now having led two churches, on two continents, and having helped many others plant around the world; I am more persuaded than ever that true full life, the liberty and the super-natural power of our holy God lies in the Scriptures. As I write this, I am on vacation in Perth, Australia with my wonderful family and daily enjoying here the time to mull over the Book of Colossians. This blog is not meant to be a commentary on the text but rather a thoughtful and honest reflection on what is being reveal through the text in relation to our spiritual journey. These are the musing of a Jesus lover, with a father’s heart on a most wonderful book in the New Testament. Enjoy it with me.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Silence in the face of opposition

Simply an outstanding quote
"The answer is simple: for myself, I do not believe that it is appropriate that I spend my time defending my name. My name is nothing—who really cares about it? And I am not called to waste precious hours and energy in fighting off every person with a laptop who wants to have a pop at me. As a Christian, I am not meant to engage in self-justification any more than self-promotion; I am called rather to defend the name of Christ; and, to be honest, I have yet to see a criticism of me, true or untrue, to which I could justifiably respond on the grounds that it was Christ’s honour, and not simply my ego, which was being damaged. I am called to spend my time in being a husband, a father, a minister in my denomination, a member of my church, a good friend to those around me, and a conscientious employee. These things, these people, these locations and contexts, are to shape my priorities and my allocation of time. Hitting back in anger at those who, justly or unjustly, do not like me and for some reason think the world needs to know what they think of me is no part of my God-given vocation. God will look after my reputation if needs be; He has given me other work to do." Carl Trueman

Friday, November 20, 2009

Gospel Centered Leadership I

What a journey it has been! The recent years saw us preoccupied with an ecclesiology that, Michael Eaton called "over realized". We preached 'model', 'pattern' passionately. But our God is gracious, kind and infinitely generous. He walked us back to the edges of our faith... to the gospel we had so sadly sent to the bookends of our convictions and gently drew us in. After 25 years of pastoral ministry I had to admit to a wonderful community that I had erred. This was a most humbling realization.

Those years saw us use many hubs as the center piece of our faith. At times we placed 'the nations' as our focus. At other times it was leadership development, church planting, being missional... of course we splashed it with community and even thought 'encounters' were worthy center pieces. What a tragedy. When we found that the gospel was not a tag on to a sermon to test the waters of salvation but the very vertebra of body life we knew so much had to change. When I read that Paul wanted to 'preach the gospel even to you [the church]' in Rome I knew I had lost my way somewhat. Then to read that he chose to know nothing but "Christ and him crucified" to the Corinthians, I knew a new and fascinating journey lay ahead of me.

This blog will take a few days to explore what gospel centered leadership might look like. I look forward to our conversation...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Morning all
My silence over the last week or so has been due to the mania of moving. SO Alan F teaches that can is sometimes late -[read Lazarus story] so I have to live his message! A fight to close escrow... that went 21 days late. The seller put the home back on the market. The loan was denied [which I was not told till later]. My new neighbour finds himself at our front door crying our on our behalf not to lose the house... what a fight of faith.

Now obviously there is much more to the story but this I know-we got the "keys" at 5:00pm on the 31st of the month. It went to the wire. It tests all your vulnerabilities-did I hear God? Was it my desire not a clear word? Tests all your theology. How sovereign is God? Is favor truly in the atonement?

OK so I relieved now. He is a wonderful God and always has been. He just will not let us stagnate. He loves us too much

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

PASTORS WIFE - what is she like?

I fell in love when I met her... it was March 1977. Meryl was 15 and I was 18. That is how our journey started. Unfortunately it did take awhile for her to get "the revelation" but it did - that was almost 29 years ago.

Of those remarkable marriage years, 26 of them have been spent "loving, leading and feeding" His wonderful bride [to quote my friend Dudley Daniel]. We were full of the life of youthful exhuberance. Our world had no care but the next college paper, the next fun event and the weighty task of dreaming together. There was no "Choosing your pastor wife manual" . So what does she look like?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Now, being a New Testament people by ecclesiology [but a whole bible people by theology], we watch the journey of these apostles with interest. Understanding that the way to interpret the book of Acts could be either descriptive or prescriptive, I have asked many leaders who espouse a one-man leadership model who and how they interpret the Acts of the Apostles through their lenses.  Each reaches a place of honesty after trying to argue for their guy [Peter or James]. The scripture gives no clear mantle of ultimate authority to anyone but Jesus. It seems that the fact of ‘relationship and gift recognition” was quite sufficient for brothers to journey together. Peter gets up on the day of Pentecost… “The Peter stood up WITH THE ELEVEN raised his voice…” Acts 2:14. The other apostles were seemingly totally satisfied that he was the man, with the anointing, for that occasion.


The captivating Acts 15 is worthy more conversation than this paper allows. One sees the convo developing around sharp dispute and debate…after much discussion… Here a brotherhood is happy to convo together to find the mind of the Lord. This time it is not Peter or even the great Paul who leads the closing wrap up. It is James who provides insight, theology and clear leadership. Yet he was not the over riding “apostle for all nations”.


Galatians 2 helps with this journey of discovery. From Gal 1:11 to Gal 2:11, we see how Paul responds to this matter. Firstly, he recognizes in the Jerusalem apostles a framework where he wants to be accountable. He chooses to go to Jerusalem “to those who seemed to be leaders…” 2:2. If there was a “top leader” surely he would have sought him out. But he describes the scenario as being very fluid, open ended and changing. He then adds, rather cheekily “As for those who seemed to be important… those men added nothing to my message…” 2:6. Then the part I love, “James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles and they [plural] to the Jews… When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face…” 2:9 – 11


What we have in this text is weighty:

  1. There was no one clear leader amongst the apostles in Jerusalem,
  2. They operated in mutual consensual team – Peter, James and John… as well as Paul and Barnabas in Antioch, [they could disagree over John Mark…]
  3. Paul wants to be accountable to other apostles,
  4. They recognize the grace gift upon Paul’s life,
  5. Peter James and John want Paul and Barnabas to be part of a ‘brotherhood’ – now the difficulty is that we struggle to find bible words to give architectural shape to this evolving wineskin. Whilst this is ‘abiblical’ we are to be careful that we do not create something in our systems minds that will shoot us in the foot down the road. So the struggling scaffolding words we have used to describe this Gal 2 picture includes:
    1. A Fellowship of Apostles,
    2. A Koinonia of Apostles,
    3. A Forum of Fathers,
    4. A Band of Brothers…
    5. Other? – I guess we are going to need to get the God heart on the matter first before we lock ourselves into the vocabulary.




Last year we were away as an eldership team. As we sat around the pool chatting about the future, the question was asked; ‘ Can we architect the future using only bible words?’ We all sat rather challenged for a while.  I remember hearing the story told of the diamond grader. This person would arrive at the office daily with the remarkable job to grade these beautiful stones. The process was a simple one… on the desk was a stone as perfect as the graders could determine. The grader would put the eyepiece to his eye and examine this stone with some patience and intent. He would put it down, and pick up the first ungraded stone and take his time to examine it against the first “perfect stone”. He would place it in the appropriate tray and pick up the second stone and do likewise. After just a handful of these stones, he would return to the ‘perfect stone’. The reason is obvious. Each stone will be measured against something. If is not the ‘perfect stone’ each stone will begin to be measured against other imperfect ones. The parallel is obvious. If we do not keep returning to the scriptures, we will interpret this pivotal moment in the modern Apo narrative against other most unhelpful measures. These could be the corporate world, missionary organizations, megachurches, other apo households and we will struggle to find the Father’s “perfect” blueprint for us in this third phase.


How does one move from being “a network – one leader, one place, one way” to becoming “ a movement – many leaders, many places, many ways”? These are my tentative proposals:

  1. We are to accept the power role and part that pioneering apostles play. God has raised them up in times past and will do so again in the future.
  2. By their very gifting and revelation they will tend to present a “one way” approach to doing church.
  3. They will have sons. To simply “do ministry” is to leave a legacy of memories. To leave sons is to leave a legacy of momentum and continuous enlargement but not surrender to promoting a global brand.
  4. Sons must become fathers! One does not even have to spend much time dwelling on the natural parallel to see any other option as ridiculous. We are all a little suspicious of a 34-year-old still living at mom’s home, like a teenage son. We will all suspect a dysfunctional family… Sons are designed by the great Creator to grow up and become men.
  5. Each son must leave home to get his piece of the pie – to go and fight for his inheritance. In 2 Cor 10 esp vs. 13, Paul speaks of the sphere / field God has assigned to us. We only have what God has given us. Never more nor less. The joy is that we can explore and fight for what God has given us – not each other but against the realm of darkness. And I suspect we will need each other to get this achieved.
  6. The pioneering father I want to suggest, should not hand over to one man, to operate the way he has. This has not worked as a model for an apo future for there is NO APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION. The new leader will reduce the household to the size of his sphere and not see the joy of the size of the informal togetherness of a multiplied brotherhood. If however there is no fear or resistance to this becoming a denomination then a one man succession model may work well [the Vineyard story is an example if this]
  7. The second generational picture of the scripture is clear – no apostle operated alone. This tendency to go out alone is very vulnerable, truly dangerous and weightedly unbiblical. Jesus sent them out two by two…
  8. The love and trust developed after years of journeying together, creates the platform for a new form of leadership pattern. I remember my father in the faith, Dudley Daniel, saying to us in the 80’s that title or position can never give us true recognition. The only God endorsement comes from “relationship and gift recognition”. We must show enormous caution when the right to speak, minister, lead is based on a title. That is denominationalism! Our true authority comes from being [or not] an Ephesians 4 grace gift to the church… not because we are “on team”.
  9. May I take this a step further by saying that anytime we need to set in a middle management we are teetering outside of Scripture. To set in “national or regional coordinators” or the like is to set oneself down the road of denominationalism. The texts used to justify this approach are normally around the Davidic model. The only difficulty with that is that it will almost always lead to a hierarchy. If that is not the chosen destination then simple biblical obedience is demanded.
  10. Alan Hirsch introduced me to a book called “The Starfish and the Spider”. This is a management book that argues for a more partner driven, decentralized model of leadership. The spider dies when the head is cut off. The starfish multiplies when this takes place. The church of Jesus is being prepared for the last of the last days. The church that survives in the dark days of sustained persecution will be one that is not built around “one leader, one place, one way”. We should be in a place that if the head is chopped off, the body will multiply.
  11. May I add in here, the attempt to make the translocal ministry look like or work like a local eldership, is both unbiblical and very unhelpful. They are two very distinct and different governmental designs for two very different mandates. Not in heart but in ‘how to’…
  12. There is no APOSTLE TO ALL NATIONS – this is not a bible grace gift. Not even Paul was that.
  13. Could it be that the pioneering father should hand over leadership to:
    1. Emerging apostles who already have some form of a track record? [Jesus handed over to the 12]
    2. These [EA] should have been groomed to mature under his watch. Jesus does this wonderfully.
    3. Sentimentality should be redirected to a vision of multiplying families or apostolic households,
    4. Loyalty needs be seen as a commitment to:

                                              i.     God,

                                             ii.     His word,

                                           iii.     The mandate,

                                           iv.     Each other…

                                             v.     Not to a system or even a history,

    1. The local church must once again become the central focus of our ecclesiology. She is why we do what we do…As much as the gospel is the center of our message, we are to ensure that the Eph 4 giftings live for the benefit of the churches, to bring them to wholeness and maturity. It is not the churches that are there to endorse or uphold the system.
    2. Strong vibrant growing base churches once again become the nodes on the nets. If the early church did not start organizations or systems, how did they get “the job done”? It seems like these key strategic churches like Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus became the central hubs of service, resourcing, training and impact. Amazing that in an age of such limited communication, the apostles were still so effective. It seems like this was done because of the churches they operated out of.  A great example of this can be found in Acts 19:10 This went on for two years so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. Paul spent two totally focused years getting the base in Ephesus strong, stable, strategic.
    3. Spheres should be allowed to be developed, without the notion of  them being “our churches”. I find it wonderful that Paul was clearly the father to the Corinthians church, however he was adamant that they did not get embroiled in the chats about “being of Paul, Cephas, or Apollos…”
    4. The elders are the highest human authority in the local church. They have the God responsibility and freedom to decide who they wish to partner with in a translocal journey [Phil 1:5] Rigby Wallace has a cool set of 4 questions that each eldership should ask in this regard.
    5. A “Fellowship of Apostles” [or a better name?] can emerge under the founding apostle’s enlarging eye and can begin to partner together.
    6. All must be prepared to let God remove the old ways, systems and even the name but not the DNA. That should remain in our hearts no matter what the name is [or isn’t]. It is very dangerous to try to interpret the future through the model of the past. It was brilliant then but it will not be wondrous for tomorrow. A new dawn, a new day, a new way… that is what the apostles of the book of acts had to face… as we have to now or we will see: ‘History repeats itself, has to, no one listens” Steve Turner
    7. As the Father reveals his blueprint for this chapter, so He blurs the lines moving all from a closed set, restricted, convergent group to a divergent open set of partnerships, alliances and allies – wonderfully more kingdom. The sense of belonging need never be lost, as it now remains relationally real and not hidden in the folds of artificiality that a system can present.
    8. The final and pivotal matter is that of leadership. If we are not building an organization, denomination or corporate model, we can and should sculpt more of an organic, fluid, changing, evolving brotherhood that is truly held together by the “relationship and gift recognition” that we see in the scriptures. There does not need to be a “pope”, “an apostle for all nations” even one “team leader”. There is no picture of that in the New Testament. All these men are now fathers in their own right. As each develops their own sphere, they can find each other and be comfortable to let leadership be led by the moment, occasion, and journey. It may well be that 3 or so apostles emerge as the point of the arrow. Whoever hosts the event / occasion has captaincy on their shoulders and then Peter stood up with the eleven… This was not now his movement but his moment. The others saw it and supported him. The rest is history. These brothers can meet regularly, [even including others from other flows, and streams] deeply enjoying the delights of their ‘mateship’ which lays the platform for the weighty times of energetic convos and even disagreements that lie ahead…


The next chapter of the journey has just begun…











Skype is a great church planters gift. Seeing the wonderous face of these heroes is so much more satisfying than calls or email. We had one of those wonderful skypes yesterday. Great feedback , matched with the joy of watching the family in full flight was quietened when asked what resources we had about elder's / pastor's wives. 

Well, we have our journey. We have our counsel and perspectives that we have offered others but nothing in writing. So, the suggestion was, why do we not start a blog and engage others in mutual counsel and prespective to share their story with us. So here we are...

We are going to spend some of our blogging time to explore the wonderful mystery of this most noble task.  

Thursday, June 4, 2009




On my recent trip to Seattle, I found a chat that Mark Driscoll gave us ‘internationals’ very helpful. He was talking about the evolution of organizations. He said that networks are characterized by being driven by “one leader, one place, one way”. But, movements are characterized by “many leaders, many places, many ways”. Now we may debate which way around the definitions best fit, which is a network and which is a movement, but what matters is that many apo households are facing the crucial set of questions that relate to their evolution – “what does the next chapter look like?”. In many ways this was a very helpful observation that adds a crucial piece of the puzzle in our “maturing apostolic journey”.


Lets step back for a moment. What is the matrix around our conversation? May I argue that four essentials ingredients need to be in place, lenses to see a new uncertain future…

  1. Theology – what does the scripture teach us?
  2. History – what did the pioneering fathers have in their hearts, as well as the great body of historical journeys,
  3. Prophecy – gather with due respect and process the key prophecies given to networks,
  4. Philosophy – what are the DNA convictions that must not be lost?


This paper is not to explore the nature or the form of the ‘network’ [by Driscoll’s definition]. This has already happened and many of us have lived under the sheer privilege of “those days”. However the huge question remains; “how do we intentionally shift to becoming a movement”? Now because these are unchartered waters, and so few households have transitioned well from one generation to the next, it places great weight on us to administrate this sacred moment with intentionality and Spirit sensitivity. Lets go to the scriptures firstly…


Based on the Law of First Mention, Genesis 1 introduces us to the apostolic heart of the Father. “So God blessed them and said to them ‘Be fruitful, and increase in number; fill the earth…’” I love this. The Father sets a pattern for ‘filling the earth’ by family multiplication – sons who become fathers who have sons…. This in a perfect world was the Father’s Kodak moment to take his glory to the uttermost. Not systems or organizations, just families multiplied.


Our narrative journeys us to the great father of our faith, Abraham. Not only was the gospel announced to him in advance, but the apostolic heart of the Father is revealed in his mandate to “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you” Genesis 12:1. Here we see the wonder filled humility of a pioneering father’s obedience, but also we see how the Father keeps passing on the same mandate to the fourth generation. [13:14 – 17, 17:3 – 8, 26:2 – 6, 35:9 – 14, 48:3 – 4.] Here the continuity of father to son gives way ultimately to a nation. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, to the boys. Filling the earth by family multiplication.


Our story takes us to the grand Exodus. The pioneering father, Moses remained on the banks before the land of promise. Joshua had to lead the nation into the width of the Promised Land. The first 12 chapters deal with Joshua as the focused leader. The next chapters from 13 to 24 revolve around the different tribes being given the space to go and find their land, their inheritance, and their sphere. [PJ Smythe from NFI does a wonderful job in exploring this book as a model of apostolic transition] Again the obvious glares at us - the land was possessed by each family, taking their God appointed inheritance.


Enter Jesus – the apostle and high priest, Heb 3:1 No words can truly account for the genius of his apostleship. His incarnation and missional lifestyle dumfounded the leaders of the day. His death was to end another fad, a fleeting pietistic move and frivolous political agenda. However the lasting legacy and multiplied continuity of his apostolic work was now seemingly wavering. The apostles appeared greatly perturbed by his imminent going. [John 13 – 16,] What would he do? The vulnerability of his imminent departure was only appeased by his assurance that the Holy Spirit was on his way. What must those early apostles have thought? “Cool for you to say, but we need flesh and blood? We need to be loved and led by some skin!” The upper room must have been awash with anticipation. “Surely the big J was now going to appoint the big dog”. But the Holy Spirit came with power, but with no single bigger flame, no sticks with growths or commission papers. That just did not happen. The glory brought his presence… just like Joshua asked for but this time, there was no person appointed as ‘the’ leader. Now I have to speculate a little. Did they reflect back on his last words? Did they reflect back on Jesus giving all of them all the authority, together? [I do not believe in egalitarianism but on God anointed and appointed leadership where the grace gifting is clear and evident] “ All authority in heaven and on the earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” Matt 28:16 – 20.




Saturday, May 23, 2009

Apostle as revolutionary



As a group of friends, we exchange books recently read, that challenged, stirred and enlarged us. So this book found its way via Amazon to me. Intriquingly it is entitled “The Wages of Spin”. Does it find its way onto the piles of books that surround my red reading couch or do I trust my friends and start reading? Browsing through the contents page I was immediately drawn to the chapter “A Revolutionary Balancing Act…”. I quote; ‘As an intellectual historian committed to the study of ideas and their functions in historical context, and the role of self understanding in the formation of cultures and movements, I am fascinated by the problem which all successful revolutionaries must ultimately face: the transition from rebels with outsider status to establishment with insider status.”[1] [italics mine]…he continues  “the theological history of the church is a history of revolutions, generally driven by correct concerns, but all needing to be subject to the searching criticism of God’s Word”[2] and then he adds:”… have the revolutionaries become the new establishment…?”[3]


A flurry of questions rush my mind as I sit down to start writing. Is there theological integrity to use this often offensive word in a chapter on apostolicity? If Jesus was indeed a revolutionary, how was he one? Did Peter and Paul sustain this launching pad or did they surrender to the pressure of conformity? Indeed is it for the church to always be a revolutionary band of brothers? Do modern apostles still carry the weight of this higher call or is true God-impact on society in our day, achieved through the channels of acceptance and societal applause? Without drifting towards elitism or remnant theology, can the hard core revolutionary remain tender and empathetic? Can the weight of scripture prevent the seemingly inevitable drift of yesterday’s revolutionary becoming tomorrow’s establishment?


Allow me a moment for definitions. The word “revolution” means:  “1. The action by a heavenly body of going round in an orbit; 2. ROTATION; 3. A sudden, radical or complete change,…” Websters

The Oxford dictionary adds this”…Complete change, turning upside down, great reversal of conditions, fundamental reconstruction.”


Jesus, the great apostle was by no stretch of the imagination “addicted to mediocrity” to quote Frankie Schaeffer. The very essence of his person and ministry was that of a revolutionary. His motive was not revolution, like Nietzsche suggested, to impose change through violence but the revolution of love. The Christ revolt was against everything that had hijacked the project planet earth from a man / God partnership. Man’s sin brought death, destruction. Sin brought bondage and captivity with eternal damnation. The dominion of darkness blinded a now dying world into seeing life simply through the lenses of gratification of all the self-thrones. Beyond a political freedom, the Jesus-revolutionary brought a new kingdom and allegiance to this nail-scarred king. He taught his followers to pray that way [“Come your kingdom, be done, like heaven, like earth”] and live this way [“whoever wants follow me must take up his cross”]. These humble acts of surrender, produces the very liberty and freedom the Christ follower yearns for. The reversal of the dank days of the garden was uppermost in His messianic mind as he walked the dusty Galilean roads. The fundamental reconstruction of the Father’s original intent oozed through His every pore. This higher call drove Him, who was His Father’s son, to spare no price in order to achieve this end. The conflict in the garden escalated into an all out war that has splattered history with the battle for ascendancy. From the position of the historian, it is obvious that it would ultimately cost some one their life for the “great reversal of conditions” to take place. That is what it would take. No Less. The climactic declaration of the old rugged cross that “it is finished”, began the pilgrimage of victory that will ultimately be realized with His final return. As John Stott has popularized, we live in the tension of the “already and the not yet”.


Colossians 1:13
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,


 Jesus, as the apostle – revolutionary, did not hold back on His call to His fellow revolutionaries. His many intimate appeals to the twelve particularly ensured that they would understand they were embarking on a fight that embraced the heavenlies all the way to their own lives.


His heavenward parting now makes our conversation interesting. Whilst we can accept that He was to die to “take away the sins of the world”, the modern church and the theology that has drip-fed them, suggests that the evangelical church is a irrelevant, outdated organization set to maintain a conservative status quo. Losing her revolutionary edge by becoming an arm of the main stream, has made her a joke in the eyes of the world she is trying to reach. This afternoon I picked up my latest Rolling Stone magazine. There in the “Best of Rock 2008” edition is an account of a journalist who went undercover into evangelicalism in the USA. Let it be sufficient to say, I grieved as I tried to grace myself through the pages of this tragic article. If we are to be martyred, let it at least be for Jesus the revolutionary not for mainstream mediocrity!


Paul, the great apostle followed in his master’s footsteps. Born with a most wonderful intellect, his passion is well documented as he sought to defend the status quo with all his energy. His Damascus road divine encounter translated his defending of tradition to revolutionary for the Galilean. Without apology, he set out to match his master’s zeal with an unswerving commitment to the restoration of freedom through his savior’s message. Paul was a revolutionary in the truest sense of the word. He believed his message uncompromisingly. [A study of Galatians 1 and 2 is a sheer delight]. He lived his message unapologetically [read Acts 20]. He declared his message unswervingly. He challenged those who compromised the message unreservedly [Galatians 3]. He gathered and trained fellow revolutionaries consistently [Timothy in Acts 16]. The extent of his anticipated revolution included political, social, economic, relational, governmental.


Steve Turner the English poet wrote:

“History repeats itself,

Has to,

No one listens”[4]


Every move of God appears to have been started by this call to the revolution. From the Lord himself and His fighting band, to Luther, Calvin and Knox. The reading of the Wesley brothers account of transforming England is stirring indeed. This apostolic hearted passion knew no bounds as they gathered some 40,000 followers in a handful of decades but equally important, they revolutionized a nation out of a revolution like that which devastated France across the channel.


Often the apostolic passion of its founders becomes replaced by the pastoral bias of the next generation.[5] The pastoral office of Ephesians 4 is particularly preoccupied with the well being of the sheep. This heart, wonderful, essential and powerful, however drifts towards the loyalty of the yesteryear. Words like loyalty, faithfulness, covenant, honor and relationship become clarion calls. The defense of the past is viewed with much value and gratitude. These matters are not erroneous in their own right, however they remove the revolutionary edge. That which defined a movement or ministry as revolutionary, now gives way to its “Pleasantville”.


A sad example of this, is the Vineyard movement. Well documented in Bill Jackson’s book: “The Quest for the Radical Middle”, he does a most intriquing job of the evolution of this world-shaking group of men who gathered around John Wimber. The honest accounts of their humility and struggles with the Father’s mandate, is most refreshing. Without rewriting the book, let it be sufficient to say that the most tragic line in this account, comes after John’s untimely passing and Todd Hunter’s struggles with which direction to set. Having done his homework as he sought counsel, he took to the Vineyard board the proposal that the future lay with “Apostolic Networks”. Jackson says that: “Having no takers…”[6] they became a denomination. The revolutionary became the establishment!


History does indeed not view this with favor. The apostolic-revolutionary baton is often dropped for a safer pastoral-nuturing one. The revolutionary is replaced with the caring, the nurturing. The outsider has become the insider. But the question remains: Is this how things must inevitably evolve?


Revolution is not rebellion. When Jesus was arrested he asked his captures ;”Am I leading a rebellion that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me?” Matt 26:55. The revolutionary is a person of deep truth convictions. Driven, not by an anti-establishment passion but by a pro-truth posture. Martin Luther’s great stand before his Catholic peers when he said he could do no other so help him God, best reflects the revolutionary heart. The 21st century apostle must embrace the mandate to pick up the baton of the revolutionary or the church will…




[1] The Wages of Spin, Carl Trueman, pg 169.

[2] Ibid pg 170,

[3] Ibid pg 171,

[4] Up to date, Steve Turner, pg 129

[5] I found Alan Hirsch’s observation of this discourse most enlightening in “The Forgotten Ways”

[6] Bill Jackson, “The Quest for the Radical Middle”, Pg 351.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Some quotes from an apo journey...

OK, here are some bite size pieces…

·      “The Lord does nothing without revealing this plan to his servants the prophets…that season has come to an end… calling us to move into a way in which we have never been before. I sense ‘team within teams’ and the various teams are going to change in nature…this time is the birthing of a second baby…labor brings pain and there will be pangs which have been sharp and sore…there is an excitement of the unknown… need to be wide open to the new thing that God is doing…” Gill P.[from her prophecy]

·      “ The mission of the church needs constantly to be renewed and reconceived” David Bosch

·      “…genuine gospel freedom, it seems, is difficult to maintain over the long haul and one cannot bind it down in well meaning structure. But when organizations enshrine this culture of restraint, they are extremely hard to change…. No historical denomination has ever been able to fully recover its earlier, more fluid and dynamic movement ethos again. That is why it is the network structure where power and responsibility is diffused throughout the organization and not concentrated at the center, that more approximates our real nature and calling as the body of Christ. A network structure thus guards us from the dangerous creep of religious institutionalism…” Alan Hirsch

·      “[after John Wimber died, Todd was suddenly left with the movement… he did some incredible study as too where the vineyard was to go… - pages 350 and 351 in the Quest for the Radical Middle…] Peter Wagner counseled Todd to consider breaking the Vineyard into what he called ‘apostolic networks’. This new area of research recognizes that we are entering into a postdenominational era where apostolic men are rising up… to gather around them clusters of churches, either through church planting or adoption…[now the most painful line in the book -  Todd took this to the V board and…] Having no takers in rthe apostolic network direction…” They are now a denomination… FROM Bill Jackson

·      At the Umhlanga team time, when asked “Rigs what do you think God is saying, I said Tighten to loosten”. (Relationships must be tightened but not as an end to themselves. 25yrs of covenant togetherness must give us a solid foundation for some robust debate. Structure, modus operandi, hardened positions on some issues must be loosened.) At the most recent time I was asked again. My answer was “Ask God for COURAGE because it will be essential for what is coming in terms of change and mandate.” More than ever I believe it is a time for courage. Courage to speak/debate with honor. Courage to measure and audit. … Courage to confront our own bias and preferences. Courage to admit that we have perhaps weighed some truths disproportionately to others (our ecclessiology ahead of our Christology). Courage to bring in some fresh minds from outside of our ranks. Courage to change and even make the hard choices. In a short while we will be a decade into the 21st C. By then it may be too late to re-invent ourselves under the leading of the Holy Spirit. I sense He is stirring, speaking and provoking! This ongoing conversation/dialogue/debate is crucial. I am so encouraged. May God help us to honor our roots as we charter new routes!... RW

·      William McDonald, a member of the Brethren movement describes the problem faced by many movements:

      “Most spiritual movements have been aptly described in the       word series: man ... movement ... machine . . . monument.       At the outset there is a man, anointed in a special way by the       Holy       Spirit. As others are led into the truth, a movement       develops. But by the second or third generation, people are       following a       system with sectarian, machine-like precision.       Eventually       nothing is left but a lifeless, denominational       monument”. FROM HB.

·      Donald Miller predicts “the … inevitable evolution of the new paradigm [his term for ‘new apostolic’] groups toward denominationalism. In time, they will start centralising authority, insisting on uniform practices, and creating bureaucratic layers of approval for acts that previously

were spontaneous and Spirit-led”. FROM HB

·      Without getting too theological, it must be stated that:

1.    God is an artist, so he is always involved in creativity, freedom, spontaneity, and uniqueness.

2.  God is an architect, so he has a design [or redesign] based on the nature of the building he has in mind. This design is not just as the wind blows, rather, he has plans and patterns…

3.  God is a builder, so he is systematic in how he builds. We do not have to guess, nor is his blueprint a mystery. Apostles are expert builders; apostles and prophets lay foundations… great building language…

4.  God is a wind maker, so is everyone born of the Spirit. Lest we become so cold, mechanical and mental… we are reminded, “the wind of the Spirit blows where it wills… so it is with everyone born of the Spirit of God”… FROM CW



·      This table may help.








Father with orphans

Father with sons

Sons become fathers with sons





The Team

Teams within/among /alongside Teams

Loose disconnected leaders-looking for…

The Apostle

Apostolic Fathers

All lead pastors

General Practitioners

Specific specialized gifts / offices


One tribe

Many Apostolic “Networks”





Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What does "American Idol" reveal about American culture? There certainly is one of fun, celebration and exploring talent. This is in part the American dream for someone to plow their way to the top of their industry. Opportunities abound. With that does it show our preoccupation with ... what?


In his book “Vintage Church” Mark Driscoll sums up the matter of leadership and the church simply when he says: “When we maintain the balance between healthy, respected, mature leaders and active, worshipping, serving members, the church excels as the living body of Christ.”[1]


Nothing will test this glorious relationship more than a decision to Replant. Almost every emotion known to man is let loose to create the potential for very muddy waters. From anger to sentimentality, from joy to relief, the soul of the community is stirred. This requires some very wise leading. Leading that is not easily swayed by the opinions of man[2]. The leaders must be God convinced but people sensitive. However it is still not for the faint hearted.


As there is no replant in the Bible, we may best explore this particular question by looking at Nehemiah who replanted a city in the face of enormous opposition. This text has been the sanity for many a replanter.



Who will not replant with us?

A.   The Godly;

There are some who will not relocate with us but who carry themselves with real godliness and holiness but cannot take the step. For those the reasons may be various:

§      Health,

§      Transport,

§      Heart for the previous city or context,

§      Vision uncertainty,

They follow the due process of the heart of scripture. They engage the elders in their journey. The conversation allows for a gracious conclusion and, for the kingdom, a relationship is still in tact.

B.   The Ungodly;

The study of Nehemiah introduces us to a group of resisters. Sanballat, Tobiah and crew who, upon discovery of the plan to rebuild, raged. This is how those who are against the replant may react;

1.     Emotional response:

·      “Very much disturbed

·      Mocked

·      Ridiculed,

·      Angry

·      Greatly incensed,

·      Very angry”,

2.   Provocative action:

·      Public ridicule[3]

·      Overtly demeaning, 4:2

·      Measured belittling 4:3

·      Insult throwing, 4:5

·      Plotting together, 4:8

·      Trouble stirring, 4:8

·      Private scheming 6:2

·      Vague accusations 6:5

·      Endeavor to frighten 6:9[4]

·      Intentional intimidation 6:13

·      Discredit leaders 6:13

·      Involve government [5]

·      Many letters [emails] 6:17

·      Endless calls for distraction, delaying conversations 6:5


This is not a complete list. When we are in the dark days of the replant announcement, the enemy will come in many forms to try to discourage or distract us from the clear divine initiative we have been given. It is most helpful to meditate on these texts. They will keep us sane.


The story is told of Martin Luther who was suffering under the weight of demonic assault as he had taken on the political and religious systems of the day. His wife walked in one day as he was lying in a defeated foetal position. Seeing that she was dressed in the black of mourning, he asked :”Who has died?”. She looked at him and said: ”Well the way you are acting, God must have!” My wife asked me at the time of the replant announcement if I had the legs for it. I could not answer her. Three tough years lay ahead.


Who WILL replant with us?

1.    The Replanter:

·      Nehemiah I - Must be absolutely sure they, as a couple, have heard the Father. There can be no doubt. Write down everything the Father says to you. No word is wasted. Every word will be a source of encouragement in the future.[6]

·      Nehemiah II – Our heart for the ‘city’ must broken. We cannot achieve the challenge at hand if we do not love deeply, care greatly and lead clearly. We can never replant out of anger, resentment or bitterness. That is bad root that will produce bad fruit.[7] The love of Christ is what compels us[8]

·      Nehemiah III [9]- Both husband and wife must find the Father together. Daily prayer is absolutely essential. This journey is not for the fainthearted. It will require a father and a mother to lead this family to green pastures,

·      Nehemiah IV - you will feel very poorly chosen for the task at hand. He was a “cupbearer to the king”[10] but was called to engineer a rebuild a city in record time. There will be many times when you will feel out of your depth,

·      Nehemiah V – it is imperative to go and study the place of replanting. Nehemiah took a few good men[11] and they did their homework. The passion to leave must not be confused with the need to find the ‘right place’. The Father has the right time and place where we must live[12]. We did our research around our ‘avenue of growth’ – where was our growth coming from and why? But we will examine this further under the “How “ question.

2.  The Team:

·      Apostle/s: [Artaxerxes the king] - we will all need someone of weighty biblical government to walk with us. “It was he who gave some to be apostles…”[13] The office of the apostle is a much debated one in the church, however, it is the office that is gifted by God to be the ‘masterbuilder’.[14] It is a supernaturally endowed office, not more important that any other, but one that is essential to a replant / rebuilding process. A true apostle has a track record of successfully negotiating this challenging track before with other churches.[15]

·      Eldership team [husbands and wives] - must be on the same page,

·      Find the ‘Few good “men”’. This is not based on giving or friendship. Rather they need to be found with the following characteristics:

a.  Love the Lord with all their heart,

b.  Love the scriptures with a righteous jealousy,

c.   Love this local church passionately,

d.    Love you enough to be honest with you no matter what,

e.  Have a biblical respect and honor for leadership – God anointed and appointed,

f.   Are true – their yes is their yes, not one thing to your face and another with others,

g.  Are strong and courageous,

h.  Are tough and tender… will not be drawn into a fight[16] with brothers but be a spiritual warrior in prayer, fasting and worship,[17]

i.    Workers. This is a time for more than philosophy or armchair quarterbacks.

·      The labor of love – fetching the fragile and the fringe.

·      The labor of the lost - to assist in creating a new momentum of getting, gathering and growing.

·      The labor of leading – protecting both the front door and the back, building great gates of grace and generosity.

j.   I try to meet with a “Forum of Fathers” on a monthly basis to hear what they are thinking, hearing or feeling. – senior men in the church who are tracking with us.

·      The prophet;

a.  A Gift - this most under – understood office and yet a wonderful gift to the church, is very helpful in this journey. The scripture says that God does nothing but first tell His servant the prophets.[18] Where there is a proven track record in these types of situations, as well as an honest relationship with the leadership, this is a very powerful partnership. The prophets are not called to govern in this context but can assist the leadership keep the church on course in the heat of the battle.

b.  A Disaster. The enemy will use the voices of ‘prophets’ to fulfill his objective, which is to destroy the church. The scripture is rife with examples of this but Nehemiah had to face up to this reality in chapter 6:11 – 14. False prophets give weight to what may appear a righteous cause. The way to measure these words is by their theological accuracy and their kingdom spirit [or lack thereof].

[1] Mark Driscoll “Vintage Church” pg 80

[2] The great apostle Paul deals with this matter in Galatians 1 and 2,

[3] Replanter your sanity is to study chapters 4 and 6 of Nehemiah – 4:2

[4] Ezra 4:4 -5 reads: Then the people around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. They hired counselors to work against them and frustrate their plans…”

[5] This is found in Ezra 4:6

[6] Habakkuk 2:1 – 4,

[7] Hebrews 12:14 – 15,

[8] 2 Corinthians 5:14,

[9] Nehemiah 1:4 – 11,

[10] Nehemiah 1:11,

[11] Nehemiah 2:12

[12] Acts 17:26

[13] Ephesians 4:11

[14] 1 Corinthians 3:10

[15] 1 Corinthians 9:1 -2,

[16] In extreme situations, one may need to put someone out of the church in the process, but we must remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood…

[17] Zechariah 10:6 – 8,

[18] Amos 3:7