We Make This Stuff Up As We Go
Random Notes (ht Brother Maynard)
by C. Peter Wagner (2001)
Foundational or governmental gifts: Now that these offices are being recognized, it is important to develop agreed-upon protocol as to how they should relate to each other positively.
Definition of apostle: An apostle is a Christian leader gifted, taught, commissioned, and sent by God with the authority to establish the foundational government of the church…
What I have excluded in this definition: There are biblical characteristics of apostles which I have chosen not to include: (1) signs and wonders (2 Cor. 12:12), (2) seeing Jesus personally (1 Cor. 9:1), and (3) planting churches (1 Cor. 3:10).
The title “Apostle”: I believe that there is increased power in the use of the title “apostle.” The function, in my opinion, will be more anointed and more of a service to the church if the title is used.
Toward a useful terminology. Who is an apostle? Are all apostles the same? This is the methodology that I have used to arrive at a continually-developing set of conclusions.
- Ecclesiastical apostles. Apostles who are given authority over a sphere which includes a number of churches, an apostolic network headed up by the apostle.
- Functional apostles. Apostles who are given authority over those who have an ongoing ministry in a certain specific sphere of service.
- Congregational apostles. Apostles functioning as senior pastors of dynamic, growing churches of more than 800.
- Convening apostles. Apostles who have authority to call together on a regular basis peer-level leaders.
- Ambassadorial apostles. Apostles who have itinerant, frequently international, ministries of catalyzing and nurturing apostolic movements on a broad scale.
- Mobilizing apostles. Apostles who have the authority to take leadership in bringing together qualified leaders in the body of Christ for a specific cause or project.
- Territorial apostles. Apostles who have been given authority for leading a certain segment of the body of Christ in a given territorial sphere such as a city or state.
The reason that I posted this is to call BS on the hierarchical structures that have been fabricated around the role of the apostle, not only by Peter Wagner, but by hundreds of other apostles and apostolic networks.
This is a widely embraced governmental structure among non-denominational charismatic churches today. Interestingly it is almost papal in its levels of rank and hierarchy. Dependence on these intermediary authorities is commanded as necessary in order to access the grace of God in one’s life and church.
However, the majority of the apostolic networks in existence have developed around power alliances, itinerant platform ministry, conferences, and book publications. The superstructures are gilded with investment and profitability. Were the money aspect to be removed, the entire picture of alignment and accountability would shift.
There is very little if any connection to grassroots apostolic function at the local level. In my opinion this is the main factor that contributes to the corruption and distortion of these ministries. Ministry that is disconnected from the real lives of individuals that one lives among and encounters on an ongoing basis will devolve into a staged performance.
Sadly the hungry audience is too willing to flock from one performance to the next, hopeful to encounter the latest move of God at the touch of these experts, codependently perpetuating the celebrity-minister industry.
In most of the reading that I run across about apostles, both charismatic and evangelical, it seems that everyone is attempting to understand the role through an organizational grid. In my opinion the first step to really understanding the apostolic would be to stop trying to define it positionally or organizationally.
Those who truly function apostolically within the body have no concern for carrying the title. When men are in the boardroom passing around titles to one another, you can bet that the real apostles are somewhere else.
Embrace those who are especially gifted in encouraging the church in the mission of the kingdom. Embrace the apostolic call upon your own life. I believe we will better recognize the apostolic function in our midst when we reject this false hierarchical system of titled apostles.