Thursday, December 2, 2010

Is there another way? Simple Apostolicity

I had a delightful lunch with 3 very special friends yesterday. As always, we set about solving the world's challenges, and as always we engaged passionately in the wonder of His bride and how we can do this journey better.

My story through the Jesus People Movement, the Charismatic Renewal and the Restoration of apostles today, has taught me many lessons. I have been part of a movement that imploded. I have loved and served in one that institutionalized. And what is most challenging is that church history reports that these are the only 2 long term scenarios that every movement ultimately ends in. But can that be true? Did the Father not place in His cosmic design an alternative conclusion for His divine interruptions? Is that what Jesus died for? Was the cross simply a key that produces a journey of unmet dreams as movements implode or access to a form of faith that simply keeps repeating yesterday, tomorrow? Has the Holy Spirit come, the wind, fire, water and dove Holy Spirit, to a predetermined non existent conclusion of stifling religion?

Please let the dreamer speak...

I am persuaded we can repeat the 63 years of recorded New Testament text where neither of these 2 scripted outcomes occurred. There is another way, but it will need to be sculpted by the sacred text continually, never believing our current grasp on these matters are the final version of truth. Is that not raw arrogance? Some thoughts that may help:

  • Abraham was the father of MANY nations. The notion of starting something that must just keep getting bigger than be fashioned by a theology of multiplication, is foolhardy,
  • Without faith it is impossible to please God. Fear because of past experiences cannot be the driving agency. The wonder of the text and faith in the God factor must keep us free from the disappointments of the past.
  • He gave some to be apostles... prophets... evangelists... pastors... teachers... These ascension gifts simply cannot be reduced to every believer is one, nor can we prefer coaches, mentors and generic middle management teams. History will repeat itself.
  • Sons become fathers. As with the family, so with the church — let the sons become fathers and start their own families.
  • No longer call you servants, I now call you friends. There needs to be a strong personal, real, honest, transparent relational glue. Being held together by a system, or code just is not in the text.
  • I went up to Jerusalem. Paul going to Jerusalem to volunteer theological accountability is a forgotten humility. The absence of a strong theological base will be the ultimate demise of every movement. It is not our ecclesiology, nor our mission that will hold our foundation — just Christ Paul said — but that we have a substantial, processed theological / credal set of convictions.
  • My ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. This text is both missional as well as anthropological. Every movement has to ensure that she is clear about her divinely designed mission [the what] as well as whom the Father wishes for them to reach.
  • Garments... wineskins. Movements begin to die way before they know it. Part of the reason lies in the fact that they simply repeat a successful model year in and year out. What is the wind of the Spirit saying now? Forget the former things... behold I am doing a new thing.
  • Your name is no longer Jacob but Israel. It is a fascinating thing to see how powerful a name is. I suspect, as with our daughters leaving home and changing names, we may need to be much more open to name changes. They often reflect yesterday's call, mandate and architecture.
  • One will put a 1000 to flight, 2... There is still a power of togetherness. Two can simply achieve more. Fragmentation and isolation are the curse of the fall not the reflection of the Trinity. In fact, it was said in the book of Judges - everyone did as they saw fit.
  • First of all apostles then prophets...NOT over all but in front of. With a hierachical mindset, the text is so often mistaken to depict CEO styled structure. This will guarantee an institution.
  • Timothy my son... The future will surely be more than one generational wonders. Rather fathers who are comfortable to step back and let sons run their own race, forge their own journey.
  • You [local church] are the seal of my apostleship... Forget size, notoriety, age, apparent success. True apo future will be seen by the individual churches they journey with — personally, intimately and effectively without creating ongoing dependency or a single system.
  • Prophets came down from Jerusalem... Healthy apo ministry will partner with prophets. The prophets will keep exploding the dead wells while the apostles will keep the architecture true to scripture.
Hope these help. Do you have your own conclusions based on your journey? Keep open to His kindness. He aint done with us yet.


  1. Having gone through the same as you Chris, I have concerns about today's "Apo" culture. Those who are "in front" seem to be taking us down the same road as any denomination. Do our actions always line up with our words and if they don't, are we courageous enough to admit it and allow change? My greatest disappointment has been the apparent disregard for "friendship before function". It has somehow changed to function before friendship. How does this happen with a supposedly sound wineskin?

  2. If I may, I would like to make a few comments.

    Firstly when Jesus spoke of winskin He was not talking about structure or model. We have perceived this wrong because we have been obsessed with leadership and model. The winskin refers to covenant, and we are in a covenant of love, therefore the winskin is love. The power of God and the Kingdom flow through love. Love is the framework through which the Kingdom will be released. We have been caught on a quest to find the right structure so that God can move in power the way He did through Jesus. In doing this we have reduced the gospel and the Kingdom to talking, planning, church planting, apostolic team structures and conferences.
    If we take a look at the book of Acts we can clearly see that these men and women were never concerned with what this thing would look like. They had a message, a very powerful message, and they had the Holy Spirit. Their journey was to tell this message and demonstrate the reality of this Kingdom while living everyday life as a community.

    Whilst many have been obsessed for many a year at trying to get this winskin in order and find out what it should look like, they have missed the enjoyment of drinking the wine and giving it to others. We have looked at others who are swimming in the river and critisized them because they dont have "the right winskin" which we thought we had.

    The danger in trying to figure out what this apostolic thing should look like, is that we miss the kingdom and spend our lives in rooms chatting for the next 25 years.

    How about just doing it and letting the Holy Spirit shape it into what He wants it to look like and change it as we go along.

    I am a young man and currently leading a church that we planted just one year ago. I had watched for many years as we tried to shape this winskin and do the structure right. I was bored and felt like I was missing out on the kingdom reality that we read about in the book of Acts. I threw that obsession out the window, took the good things I had learnt and began preaching the simple gospel, encountering God and experienceing the Kingdom in every day life, and I do mean everyday. It has been a wild journey since then and we have seen the most amazing things and many lives changed.

    You are always saying the we should build for the next generation, but when we come along you dont want to listen. I am telling you that the next generation in the first world are tired of talking, they want to see the reality, the reality of relationships with each other, and the reality of this amazing kingdom they hear about but just dont seem to see. Our cities are waiting for us to rise up out of our classrooms and just do it. Sure we will make mistakes as we step out, but God is not shaken by that, He will train us, and we also have each other to encourage and watch each others backs if we stray too far. But we can no longer just sit around. Its not about 'Church Church Church', its not our job to build the church, its Jesus' job. For us it is about 'Kingdom Kingdom Kingdom'. As we preach the gospel, which is the power of God for 'sozo', we will see the kingdom breaking in, and disciples are made, who will form communities, which is the church.

    I hope this makes sense.