TODAY’S READING: Ephesians 4:11
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers” EPH 4:11
Apostles? Today? Are you kidding? Those were exactly my sentiments and questions the very first time I was exposed to an ‘apostolic partnership’ of churches. In March 2012, however, along with the pastors and spouses from our church and a few other leaders and saints, we decided to see for ourselves and attended one of the first ever Four12 conferences in Cape Town, South Africa. The lead apostle of the movement, Andrew Selley, was speaking on the 23rd Psalm and teaching on how to shepherd/pastor like Jesus. When the session was over and our team met up again, it was clear that we were all deeply impacted with many in tears as we had a life-changing revelation of what it really meant to shepherd the sheep like Jesus. We still didn’t understand much about apostolic ministry but, for perhaps the first time in most of our lives, we had experienced an apostolic grace flowing from Andrew to us. We knew that this is what we needed and within months we were partnering with not only Andrew, but with others who were fivefold gifts to the church.
Others would have said that we were a ‘successful’ multi-site church and called into question why we would have felt the need to seek help beyond the local church or indeed to ‘give ourselves’ to Andrew and the other partnering churches, however, we could see that this was the way of Jesus. The Biblical pattern is for local churches to be led by a team of elders but, just as no saint alone is the full package and we need to belong to a local church, local churches need ‘graces’ beyond themselves.
Up until that point in 2012, with our local church leadership, we had been trying our best and God had been faithfully working among us but we had failed to embrace the gifts that Jesus gave after his Ascension. We often call people to embrace the gift of salvation, emphasizing that until the gift is opened and unpacked that it is of no benefit. Likewise, every team of elders and the local church have a responsibility to embrace all the gifts and, in particular, these fivefold gifts which Jesus himself has given.
I find it interesting that most people value evangelists, teachers and pastors but have struggled with the very first two who are actually foundational for the others to operate effectively. (Cf. 1 Corinthians 12:28) The first followers of Jesus were ‘devoted to apostolic teaching’. We often say that if you want to experience what they experienced, you’ll need to do what they did. Whether we’re church leaders or saints in God’s house, let’s unwrap all of God’s gifts and be devoted. Read, listen to and watch online resources from your apostolic teams. When these gifts are ministering in your local church, prioritize their visit.
The Church that Jesus is building will thrive, flourish and even the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it but we need to build according to His ways, in alignment with His blueprint and with an attitude of devotion.
• Read Ephesians 4:1-11
• Research resources from the apostolic team who serve your church and make time to regularly receive their input.
• Pray for your local church to have an increased desire to partner with the apostolic and to fully embrace every gift from Jesus.
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