Thursday, December 1, 2011

Apostles and Prophets

Ephesians 4:11-12 lists God’s key leadership gifts that are designed to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (v12). It’s important for local churches to receive this leadership if they want to mature and fulfill their role in the Great Commission.

The word apostle simply means “sent on a mission”. For those called apostles it means a power and authority has been conferred upon them.

Apostles look beyond the local church to nations and are gifted to start new things.
They have authority to do specific things to start churches.
They provide wisdom to strengthen churches. They are master church builders laying good foundations of doctrine and mission for local churches.
They serve as pastors to local church pastors and leaders.

Prophets are sensitive to what God is saying and to God’s purposes. All may prophesy but a prophet’s words carry greater weight.

They bring “now” words from God for the church.
They inspire the church with vision and direction.
They see through issues and bring godly perspectives.
They stir up the gift of prophecy in the local church.
They encourage, bring comfort and exhort the church.
Through their revelation and words they equip the church to be salt and light.

What effect do these gifts have on the church? An apostle shapes the local church to be more missional - to be mission-thinking and act with a global view. He hates the “holy huddle” of Christians just gathering with one another. With good apostolic foundations, a church will be doctrinally sound, Spirit-led and able to impact others in their community and beyond.

A prophet influences a church to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and to be actively seeking to hear God. He provides clear vision & direction for the church. Churches become more obedient to prophetic words, and more people are released to prophesy.

For more on the gift of an apostle in today’s church, see David Devenish’s new book 'Fathering Leaders, Motivating Mission'. See Sam Poe’s blog for more on the prophetic.

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