Qualities Of An Apostolic Church
Isn’t it amazing how a good solid Biblical word like ‘apostolic’ becomes so misused and misapplied over time that even it’s mention is a bit controversial or just simply misunderstood. The New Testament usage of the word had no such baggage.
Apostolic simply meant SENT or TO SEND.
The Father started the process as the ultimate and primary apostle when he SENT his Son into the world to redeem us from our sin. Jesus continued the process when he SENT the 12 into the world to heal the sick and destroy the work of the devil. Later he SENT 70 of his disciples to go out two by two and do the same.
So what are the qualities of a church that could be described as ‘apostolic’?
1. A SENDING CHURCH
I love the quote by Rick Warren, ‘you can tell the greatness of a church not by its seating capacity, but by its sending capacity.’ It’s not that apostolic churches fail to be attractional. It’s just that apostolic churches don’t stop with being attractional. As they attract people to them, they also train and send them out into the world to make a difference.
We send people into the world to do evangelism.
We send people into the world to serve the poor.
We send people into the world to reach the unreached.
We send people into the world to plant new churches.
We send people into the world to use their gifts and to extend the Kingdom.
2. A SOWING CHURCH
The second quality is that of giving. I love the passage in Acts 11 that describes the church in Antioch. They are planted by the church in Jerusalem. Barnabas becomes their lead pastor. And soon after they are planted, they begin to sow seed into God’s work. When a famine comes into the region of Judea, the Antioch Church collects finances to SOW back into the believers in the church at Jerusalem.
Later, in Acts 13, the Antioch Church sows its two best leaders (Paul and Barnabas) into the work of planting churches all throughout Asia. You can’t be apostolic and be stingy. There must be a generosity that comes from the faith that God will supply whatever is needed as we seek to do the Kingdom’s work.
3. A STRONG CHURCH
You can’t continue to sow or send without strength. Part of what is sown is health. There is a DNA within a healthy church body that is strong enough to reproduce itself in others. At Allison Park Church, there was a five year period of strengthening before the season of sending. Our church had experienced some trauma and division. We were in need of healing and restoration.
Before we began to send, we got strong. When we were strong enough, God birthed things out of us and we began to send. Focusing on health and strength is a key to ongoing missional efforts.
4. A STRATEGIC CHURCH
The final point I will make is that of strategy. We don’t just blindly sow seed or send leaders. We attempt to take territory for the Kingdom. If the devil has schemes against us (Ephesians 6) then we also know that the Holy Spirit has a strategy in mind to defeat the work of the devil.
It’s important to note that an apostolic church does not just decide upon the strategy, but rather it discerns the strategy that the Holy Spirit has designed for us to follow. We work on his plans by obeying what He is asking us to do.
Which of these four qualities do you need to work on in your church family to become more apostolic in the way that you function?