Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Is there another way? Apostolic Q & A.

Here are 2 requests for clarification on an earlier blog:

Alan Frow said...

very helpful,Chris! What would you say is the difference between prophetically essential and Spirit - led. Also the difference between culturally imperative and contextually vital?domthey not overlap?
All in all great thoughts though.

Matt W - Harvest said...

Agree with Alan on these thoughts Chris. Great concepts.

I am curious as to your thoughts on the "prophetically essential" as well. What forms do you envision this taking? How do you think the church can manage change on a consistent basis like that?


  1. I would like to ask a question if I may.
    Why is there such a desire/need/obsession to know what this is all going to look like, are we not once again focusing on the structure?

    Take the early first apostles and diciples for example, they were waiting around in a room, praying, talking about the Christ, concerned maybe, worshipping. Then a sound like wind and visible fire comes upon them, they all start talking in different languages and then walk outside acting as if they were intoxicated on wine.
    Peter stands up and all he can use to back up this event is the words of Joel; 'this is what God spoke about, the Holy Spirit has come'.

    Did you see what is written in Joel? It has nothing to do with loud windy sounds, fire on people and drunken behavior. The thing is they never knew what it would look like. In fact from that moment on they had no idea of what was going to happen and I do not see in scripture them trying to figure it out. They were doing life together and the things happened around them.

    The early church spread through other regions due to a persecution, not something that they would have planned. What about the whole strategy of church planting, sending guys out with a big fan fare after much apostolic strategizing. This was not the case, people were scattered and with them they took the gospel.

    I fear that we are once again trying to figure this whole thing out, we are placing too much emphasis on apostles, therefore elevating them. You may use the language of 'scum of the earth' but by actions this is not reflected. Less emphasis is placed on the believer, the royal preisthood, those who are in the market place and schools, shops, cafes etc where real ministry takes place.
    This ministry can only take place by the power and leading of the Holy Spirit.

    I have seen much about 'apo this' and 'apo that' and 'what do apostles look like.' In this you have forgotten one requirement that Paul uses to qualify an apostle, 'signs, wonders and miracles'. Many who claim to be apostles can teach for hours and write long lengthy articles on ecclesiology but few can lay hands on the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead; and sadly few can preach on the powerful gospel. This is a frightning truth.

    We place huge emphsis on church planting when no major emphasis of this is seen in the bible, there is far more emphasis placed on preaching the gospel, and releasing the kingdom and loving one another. You may say that church planting is the vehicle for preaching the gosple, I say that people are the vehicle, and besides if you going to teach church culture from your pulpits it hold no power to bring salvation....

  2. ...Now let me just qualify here, I have planted and lead a church, so i am not against that, I am very much for it, but i think that way to much emphasis is placed on the structure of churches and apo teams, and the real work is not done.

    We over here have endevoured to place Spirit filled people who know how to opperate in their God given rights and sons into the community, in businesses, cafes, schools, sports teams etc. and into nations on short and long trips, where they will release the kingdom and preach the good news. This is true apostolic ministry, many may not be apostles but they are doing the work far better than many who claim to be.

    I believe we have reduced the gospel to talk and we have reduced apostles to men who can teach at a conference and tell us how to have our church meetings, raise leaders and release elders.

    Go to India, sri lanka, pakistan, africa and lay your hands on a leper, a blind or deaf person and see them healed, then tell the people about Christ and what he has done and watch them get saved. Then see churches started within 3 months by a person who was a muslim but was touched by the power of God. We have seen this many time over on our ventures to these places, we dont want a session at a conference nor any speacial front row seats nor a standing ovation when we walk through the doors. Our desire is not to find how things should look, but rather to see PEOPLE changed by the saving power of the good news. This is what apostles do (not that I claim to be one).

    We bring this also into our first world context, where lead by the Spirit to share a word of knowledge with a waitress or man in the shop and watch how the Father loves on them and sets them free.

    I believe this is what we are supposed to be doing, not trying to figure out how this thing should look, we could waste another 10 years doing this.

    I in no way mean to be harsh, but i am passionate about this and writting does not portray that well.

    (I have kept myself anonymous as i am not looking for any recognition)


  3. Thanks for the comments...
    I did chuckle to myself about your reason to remain anon - I am not sure I know of a pastor on the planet who loves receiving anon letters.

    Secondly, as I do not know who you are nor where you are planting, it seems like you have not come from a previous community where dialogue, debate, conversation, discussion was applauded nor desired. It seems like Acts 15 has been absent in your spiritual journey. That saddens me for you. There is such joy in us wrestling our way through these matters together.

    Thirdly, unlike books, blogs cannot cover large theological diatribes. By their very definition, blogs are short papers that are meant to stimulate further conversations. So your addition to the story validates the nature of blogging.

    Fourthly, I do agree that there are insufficient evidences of signs and wonders in the church today - and that is certainly true among apostles. The apo job description includes this weighty ingredient. Over the years we have seen periods of remarkable healings and then periods of very little. It remains such a mystery. I have spoken to many guys who are much further down the road than I am, and we all find mystery in this journey.

    Fifthly, I am tickled if you see these writings as conversations about strategy. I do not. Paul lived in the tension of a desire and effort to get to Spain, yet was Spirit led consistently. That is true for us. We delight in finding God's architecture yet remain in the wind of the Spirt, ever ready to throw up our sails to let the Spirit take us where he wills.

    Thanks for the contribution. If you ever want to emerge from your anon lair, I would love to chat further.

  4. Brad said - I am glad you got a chuckle out of me remaining anonymous, but hope that this was not the primary thing you got out of what I wrote.

    To answer your comment on the Acts 15 community: I am currently part of a community of peers where we can live like this and thoroughly enjoying it, however this was not always the case. I come out of a backround the same as you, I "related" into an organization that sadly did not allow this to happen, even though I am sure that you and many other would dispute that. If we (who were nobodies in the eyes of the big-guns) questioned or dissagreed with the principals laid out by the "apo-team" we could be labled as rebellious, devisive or hard hearted and unteachable. In a book titled 'Preparing for Eldership' of which you are one of the authors, it say, and I quote: 'What the apostolic team guys say is not mearly a good suggestion, it is to be obeyed.'

    How do you question principals against men who stand on the pinnacal of "revelation", "theological understanding" and who hold "apostolic authority". However this is not what i am talking about, but it does give you an idea of my backround.

    In Acts 15 it is clear that the reason that Paul and Barney went to Jerusalem was because men had come down trying to place regulations, principals and rules onto the church. These men were trying to conform them to a way of living that was not gospel based. Paul and Barney did not go up to have a convo about apostolic or church structure, they went up to have a conversation about the gospel an if need to defend it, and the right hand of fellowship was not an invitation onto the team, it was a recognition of the annointing and call. Paul clearly says this in Galatians as he refers to this account.

    I must be honest, these writing do seem to be conversations around what this all should look like and I myself have been invited to travel a long distance to discuss such matter.

  5. Thanks bro

    I love the nature of the discussion, even the debate and certainly the dialogue. It was not part of the culture of our past but I dearly want it to part of my future. America has helped enormously in showing me another way. I am eternally grateful for men like Todd Proctor who patiently took me along a different leadership journey.

    I did not write the book about elders. I was quoted, although I do not believe I spoke those words - having said that, I certainly have shifted dramatically in my approach to leadership. Still believing in leadership, I think the Trinity has empowered me to see a different form of captaincy.

    Apostolic architecture is not bad. I know about the past, but do not throw the baby out with the bath water. As the master builder, the apostle is both architect and engineer. However, there is not "one model", "one pattern" that all are to conform to. That was very poorly managed in days gone by. Biblical architecture is spacious - "the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places" the psalmist said. There is not one sides fits all.

    Your prophetic passion oozes out of your writings. May I ask, that your convictions do not ensnare others, even as you yourself are journeying to be set free. You have much to say. all of us have had to detox - for me, I have been through 3 moves of God in 34 years. Each brought their joy, celebration as well as their excesses and failings. The genius is to draw from the God life of that well and not from the stuff men [including me] have thrown in there to pollute it.

    You are a good man.

  6. I too want to echo Chris, you are totally good.

    When I ask what this all looks like, I am simply drawing on Chris's vast experience in the many years and areas he has done church work. He recently visited with our leadership team at Harvest in Texas. His teaching and heart for the church had a profound impact on me. It has challenged me greatly.

    A little background as to what has built my perspective ...

    I was born and raised into a church that did not focus on the prophetic or apostolic, or heck any Spirit filled giftings for that matter. So all of this is new for me. You described a couple of the churches I attended when you said ...

    "I believe we have reduced the gospel to talk and we have reduced apostles to men who can teach at a conference and tell us how to have our church meetings, raise leaders and release elders."


    That being said ... I LOVE not knowing what God will do, but for me ... it is a stretch most days. I agree, adding too much structure to what God can do in our gatherings is unsafe, and unhealthy. I hope you all get what I am saying there ... so I won't fumble through qualifying here.

    I love what you are writing Chris, and I hope our "anonymous" friend will continue to input as they see needs to interject. I certainly appreciate the accountability to what I have said.

  7. Brad said - Brad said - I hear what you are saying. One thing I have gone out of my way to do is not look back at the negatives of what took place and end up getting caught in box of complaining about the past, sadly some have got stuck in that place. One thing I do is move forward into what God has planned. I have taken all the good I can from the past and carry it forward to build on top of into the future.

    I do not want myself, nor others I love and have relationship with, to splash around in an ox-bow lake, thinking we are in the river but are acctually not. i too have a desire to see the churches that we have spent our time and sown our lives into come to a spacious place and experience the kingdom influencing their lives, communities, towns and cities.

    I agree and acknowledge the vast years of experience that you have Chris and it is valued by many, i too can say that you are a good man. Likewise many young men and women are starting to step up and take their God ordained place in the community and I do believe that their views, leannings and gifts are valuable. I do think that these voices need to be heard as God is speaking through them. They are a generation who are coming through and who will take the battern beyond.

    The truth is, if I did not find interest in reading your blog i simply would not.


  8. The problem is that we have too much of an earthly-focused model of leadership. Without the flow of grace and ability to release the kingdom dynamic from the apostles and prophets, who are not only focused on seeing what is going on earth but also in heaven and realeasing that reality here on earth, then these models will inevitably lead us to focus on what God has done in the past and miss out on what He is doing now. We will be lead to care more about knowledge that experience. The entire bible is the testimonies of men and women who encountred God, and we know that the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy, therefore making these things available for us today. Sadly many are satisfied with knowledge, and spend hours around talking through model structures, is it triangles or is it circles?

    In the words of Bill Johnson (a man who I believe is a true apostle)" sadly many will stop short of an encounter with God because they are simply satisfied with theology.'

    I think that is a very true and sobering statement. My desire is that we do not end like this. Every scripture in the bible, all our theology and doctrine is to do one thing - lead us into a lifestyle of encountering the living God and realeasing that reality into the communities in which we are place. Word and Spirit and never shall the two be seperated.