What does the Apostle Do? 3 Gs
There are many articles and books on the apostle and apostolic ministry. So of course, I have to write one more! I am doing this as much for me as hoping it helps others. I remember a time in the late 1990s where there was just a handful of books addressing this subject. My how 20 years has expanded our understanding. My library bookshelf and Kindle are full of excellent books on the subject.
As background for those that do not know me, my apostolic experience comes from assisting 2 other leaders start churches in my 20s and early 30s before I started 2 churches. I summarize what an Apostle does with the phrase 3Gs.
G #1 – Goal
The first G is to define the goal. I propose that goal is to mature the bride of Christ. This is the ultimate purpose of the 5 gifts given by Jesus to his church. We may build buildings, teams, programs, and other things, but they should support the goal of maturity.
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV)
In this verse Jesus gave the purposes of the 5 gifts including the apostle. How easy to get our success metrics based on something not in this verse?
Jesus is coming back for his bride, the body of Christ. The bride will be a white, holy, and righteous bride. He will be proud of her! As apostles the greatest way we can bless Jesus is to get his bride ready! This is the essence of the verses in Ephesians above. A bride who has full knowledge of her bridegroom she is marrying. Preparing his bride is the highest calling of the ministry. This is the mark of success. In our building ask why am I building what I am building?
Build systems to measure the maturity of people and move them forward the fullness of Christ! This is the best thing to build you can do with your gift.
G #2 – Group
Ephesians 4 lists the 5 gifts to mature the church. Notice it is plural–gifts not a gift. This means that to meet the goal of maturity it requires all 5 gifts. This is not a 1 man, 2 man, 3 man, or 4 man job. One of the main goals of an Apostle is to put to together a team–a group–the second G. A group of Ephesians gifted ministers working together in unity and precision. This is not an easy job. Wherever the team is not complete, there will be an area in the people that will not be mature.
For simplicity of writing I am calling these 5 find gifts ‘Jesus’ gifts. They are frequently called 5-fold gifts. There is nothing wrong with this phrase, but I prefer Jesus’ gifts better because the word ‘fold’ is not in the Bible. In addition, it reminds us that Jesus is the head of the church and these 5 gifts are under him to carry out his will.
The first job of an apostle building a group is to drop the super man mentality and realize they need others. The second job is to understand what each gift does. This is harder than you may think. In a Christian culture where the ‘pastor’ does everything, do we know what Jesus thinks the pastor should do in Ephesians 4? This requires a rethinking at a fundamental level. You then have to teach what each office does to everyone else.
Your first task is to find people called to be one of Jesus’ gifts, who then want to be a part of the vision God has given you and are team players. There is a lot of work in that last sentence. The work of an apostle! You will need much prayer, books, and wisdom. It takes years to get it working well. This is not a quick pick people out, meet, and do it. You will have the inevitable turnover, character and skills development.
I am a personal believer that most of the group gathered around you will have to be matured, guided, and taught by you before they can turn around and help you lead others. Sometimes God is gracious and trained people show up, but that has been rare in my experience.
It is imperative to realize that governing through Jesus’ gifts is more of a round table approach than a hierarchy. It is based on the concept of roles and not positions. The question is not whose position is responsible so much as to which gift is best suited for the task. Therefore, it is important to understand the purposes of each of the 5 Jesus’ gifts. Yes, people have positions, but we need to give positions based on the role that Jesus gave them and not just fill a position. This allows for maximum anointing and efficiency.
G #3 – Govern
Govern the 3rd G is to guide the church in the direction the head wants, nowhere else.
built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. Ephesians 2:20
This is harder than you realize. One of the main challenges of the apostle is to ignore their own desires and ambitions. After they filter out their thoughts, they have to filter out the desires of the surrounding people. While a good leader listens to others, the chief direction comes from Jesus. This sounds so spiritual, and it is. But it gets hard when the chief cornerstone wants you to build something neither you nor anyone else wants to do. This is the time the apostle earns his money in governing. It is easy to govern when everyone wants what you are doing.
One characteristic of a true apostle to govern with a spirit of a Father and not as a CEO of a company.
1 Corinthians 4:15 (NIV) Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.
1 Thessalonians 2:5-12 gives guidance on how to lead as an apostle. Below, I summarize this passage on how to lead from the great apostle Paul:
1. Not greedy and don’t lead for the money or be a burden
2. Gentle like a nursing mother
3. Don’t seek praise but encourage as a father encourages his children
4. Share your life with others along with the gospel
Govern towards one goal with a group of people going in the same direction. 1300 words that will take years, humility, dependence on God, skill, patience, and endurance. But it will bring pleasure to the head–Jesus!