Apostolic ministry, benefits and alignment
Jesus wants to activate the apostolic in you because it releases dynamics and benefits that will enrich your life. He’s given you a team of teachers to accomplish His goal. We call those teachers five-fold ascension gifts.
We know that Jesus imparted five distinct gifts to equip His Church: some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, pastors and teachers. Since the 1990s the Holy Spirit has been teaching us about the apostle’s ministry and the release of apostolic grace into the Church. Even though some are still debating the existence and inclusion of modern-day apostles, scripture is clear that He gave five gifts for “the perfecting of the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4).
Jesus thought five graces, including apostles, were important to the success of His Church. Let’s look at how the apostolic grace releases apostolic dynamics and discover how apostolic alignment benefits the believer.
Apostolic grace releases apostolic dynamics. If we can recognize what apostolic grace does then we can position ourselves to benefit from it. Just as a pastor imparts pastoral grace and a prophet prophetic grace it stands to reason that an apostle would impart apostolic grace. Consider what happens when you throw a rock in a pond…the impact of the stone hitting the water creates a series of waves. This is what we call the ripple effect. Just like the ripple effect apostolic grace sets apostolic dynamics in motion throughout the Body of Christ.
IDENTIFY THE DOMINATE FIVE-FOLD MINISTRY GIFT
If you take the time to step back and look at the Church you can see a pattern of ministry. Our services have a structure. We open in prayer, sing some songs, make announcements, receive an offering, preach or teach the Word, have an altar call, and, finally, close with more prayer. The dominant grace of the main leader of that local church is set in motion during those services.
Every church has a dominant gift that leads and influences the direction of that church. If we are a pastoral church we focus on caring, counseling, and nurturing our members. And, of course, there is nothing wrong with that. If we have a five-fold teacher as the main leader then we would be well versed in the Word of God. If we have a five-fold prophet as our set-man we would be more open to prophetic words, deliverance ministry, stronger prayer, and spiritual warfare. But what if we have an apostle as our main leader? What would the dynamics in the church be then? What would the ripple effect of that grace release? Could it be possible that an apostolic five-fold gift would release something a bit different?
FIVE-FOLD MINISTRY GIFTS
These questions mark the importance of studying the various five-fold ascension gifts. How can you draw out what you don’t know exists? It’s extremely important to point out that the apostle’s gift, listed as first (1 Corinthians 12:28), is still only one of five specific ascension gifts. All five gifts are extremely important, and for the church to function fully it needs all five for the perfecting of the saints. Let’s take a look at some of the things that the apostolic might release.
Dominion, the apostolic has one direction to go: It seems that many are rapture-focused and far fewer dominion-focused. But no matter your view, whether it is pre-, mid- or post-tribulation, the result is that you are coming back to this earth. I believe if a person is born again then they are heaven ready, but you can be heaven ready and still not prepared to live in victory. The apostolic grace is not preparing a people to leave the earth but to invade, occupy and influence it for Christ. Jesus said, “Occupy until I come.”
APOSTOLIC EQUIPPING OF EVERY BELIEVER
Mobilizing into purpose: Apostolic grace is a mobilizing grace. The apostolic focuses on equipping every believer to do what they are called to do. You can’t mobilize what’s not prepared. Equipping is only one measure of the five-fold ascension gift function. Where a pastor might focus on identity and purpose, the apostolic takes it to the next level of “mobilizing into purpose.” It’s not enough to find purpose, one must seize purpose. It wasn’t enough for the Israelites to see Canaan Land, they were required to cross over and “possess the land.”
Equipping: Along with the other five-fold ascension gifts the apostolic identifies both spiritual and natural gifts in people and puts them where they need to be. The Church has done a good job of blessing people but the Holy Spirit wants to do more than bless people. He wants to equip them for Spirit-led living. Currently there is a shift from blessing-only focused ministry toward blessing and training people to do what they are called to do. The “one hour of power” model of ministry on Sunday mornings is being challenged. To do more than bless people will require a strong commitment from church leaders, the willingness to place a demand on people to grow, and, in some cases, a complete restructuring of the local church to leave what I call “stage ministry” and enter the apostolic dimension of equipping every believer for the work of the ministry, placing them on ministry teams, and sending them out of the local church with specific assignments.
APOSTOLIC LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
Apostles don’t work alone. Jesus sent them out two by two. Leadership is one of the strongest apostolic dynamics being released into the Body of Christ. Because leadership models the way, the apostolic gift is creating a leadership development culture. We know that every thing rises and falls on leadership. We also know that most organizations, including our churches, are weak in leadership and we are desperate to add more. Apostolic grace is spotlighting that weakness, and since the apostolic is relationship based it is requiring us to spend more time on leadership development.
Out of the sanctuary: The apostolic is preparing people to get out of the sanctuary and into the world. The local church is not just a place of worship it is also a place of blessing, equipping, prophetic instruction, and governing. Our world is under demonic siege. Every night news reports broadcast the working of secular humanists that undermine the Judeo-Christian fabric of our nation, Islamic (Muslim) extremists filled with an ideology of hate that kill innocent people, and homosexual pedophiles preying on innocent children through malicious use of the Internet. The apostolic grace, working in humble unity with the other five-fold ascension gifts, is preparing Christians to invade the world with salt and light rather than escape the world.
THE KINGLY PRIESTHOOD
Kingship of the believer: Not every believer is called to be a five-fold ascension gift, but every believer is part of the royal priesthood, both priests and kings. Many believers have a hard time thinking of themselves as kings. For some, suggesting that believers adopt a kingship mentality meets with resistance because it launches negative concepts of unwarranted superiority, abuse of authority, unearned respect, and even an uppity attitude. None of these images, however, convey the intended biblical concept of kingship. Apostolic grace is leading the Church into the delegated kingship of every believer under the guidence of the Holy Ghost.
ALIGNING TO THE APOSTOLIC
So what are the benefits of aligning ourselves to the apostolic and how do we do it? To align oneself means to come alongside of or to work together with. We are not talking about a blind submission to some controlling individual that printed “Apostle So and So” on a business card. It should be clear by now that the proof of apostolic ministry is found in function and not in title. We are talking about working together with the grace from one of the five-fold ministry gifts that Jesus set in the Church. Again, apostolic grace is only one of five gifts given to the Body of Christ. All the five-fold ministry gifts are equally important.