....by elders, apostles and prophets.
Let's start with a note from a reader of our Simple Church Letters. "At last night's meeting someone who has recently come in to the group was making noises that we must appoint elders, apostles, prophets etc, and I began to feel uneasy..." My reply - anyone pushing any 'barrow' should make one feel uneasy. One of the reasons Simple Churches are often referred to as "Organic Churches" is that things happen without forced human pressure. Collins dictionary on 'organic', (1))"...change or development gradual and natural rather than sudden or forced (2) made up of many different parts which (all) contribute to the way in which the whole society or structure works." Aren't those two meanings descriptive and appropriate for a local church!
In other words, let the elders naturally emerge. Their maturity and wisdom will be recognised before there is any public recognition. If this isn't the case, they don't (yet) qualify. There's absolutely no need to rush public recognition. Nor is there need for titles and prominence. If you attended our church you probably wouldn't know who the elders are. But in a crisis or conflict, you would!
Apostles and Prophets. This is a huge subject and cannot be covered in one letter. The best I can do in this letter is give you some headlines....
- Even a cursory reading of the New Testament will reveal that apostles, sometimes with prophets, planted churches and had continued input into certain churches. See, Acts and especially Paul's Epistles.
Apostles and prophets minister out of their relationship with a local church.
This relationship comes from either planting the church or a decision by the church to partner with the apostle and/or prophet and seriously consider their counsel and direction.
Not everyone will recognise the apostle's ministry. 1 Cor. 9:2.
- The apostle or prophet doesn't take ownership of the local church. He/she provides input from what they believe is the Word of God for a particular church. The relationship will continue if the church and the apostle or prophet agree for this to happen.
Input from apostle/prophet will lay a strong foundation on which the church can build, Eph. 2:20.
God raises up apostles and prophets in a local church and sends them out as church planters as in Acts 13:1-3; 14:14.
- Literal meaning of the term 'apostle' is: "a sent one". I see more evidence of apostleship in someone 'on the move,' or, 'on a mission' than a person directing from his office and computer.
So, what's next for a church that has no relationship with an apostle or prophet, or has no recognised elders? For both apostles and elders, first pray, asking God to reveal a person or persons with whom he would have you build an ongoing relationship. People of sound character; obvious gifting; a fruitful reputation and known 'fathers in the faith. Titus 1:5-9; 1 Cor. 4:14-16.
Your feedback is appreciated!