For more than 15 years, we have been fully engaged in establishing apostolic resource centers in strategic locations internationally. We did not plant a church because we knew that an apostolic resources center functions so differently from modern church-anity that people would continuously gravitate toward that model.
Ecclesia should be built upon a kingdom foundation. Ecclesia should be built, not planted, with intentionality, “called together into assembly” to accomplish a kingdom assignment. Ecclesia implements a kingdom assignment, and the assignment comes to kingdom leaders.
To begin an ARC, you have to start with apostles and prophets as foundational kingdom leadership dynamics. To the extent you have both of these foundational leadership dynamics functioning, the ARC’s foundation can support structure, mature, perhaps expand in numbers, but more importantly expand in influence. To some extent these foundations must be localized, that is, they must function at a home base from which that influence can be extended.
Immediately I hear that someone says, “Paul didn’t remain localized.” My answer would be that Paul didn’t intend to operate ARC’s. Paul intended to normalize the kingdom Gospel message to non-Jews in his generation, blazing out like a burning torch long before the maturity of what he originated.
Paul intended to prepare spiritual sons and daughters to operate ARC’s. In fact, the model of Paul, as a lifestyle or life’s work, would be a less than desirable for most modern leaders for several reasons, and saying so does nothing to diminish his assignment or leadership as an apostle. Paul’s “foundational function” was a whole bunch different from the foundational function of the apostles and prophets he set into place. Very few modern apostles function like Paul, for very good reasons. They are apostles but their assignments aren’t like Paul’s in any particularly measurable or observable ways. In fact, Paul didn’t begin any of his kingdom establishing efforts as church plants so much as he established kingdom and “ekklesia” happened. Paul prepared kingdom leaders so the Ecclesia would function with kingdom leadership dynamics.
We can certainly discover elements of apostolic fathering from Paul, and maybe we should move his model to the top of the list because of the bounty of information Holy Spirit chose to release through his writings, but we cannot limit our understanding of “apostle” to Paul or his experiences when his mission included the preparation and positioning of emerging apostles and prophets.
Nor can we rightfully dismiss the aspect of Ephesians 2:20 through which we understand the foundational leadership of apostles and prophets to initialize kingdom Ecclesia: to some extent they did initialize things in unique ways, and we are not initializing things in the same sense because we are centuries down the road of history from that set of kingdom conditions. That is, foundational leaders for Apostolic Resource Centers must be developed, not recruited, so that the kingdom foundations supplied by preparing kingdom leaders become the basis for the function of Ecclesia.
I am not stuck on the name. I am aware that others use it along with a list of other names that seek to identify some form of the same concept. I am hopeful that the apostolic and prophetic foundations laid will provide both blueprints of purpose, foundations that are true to the Chief Cornerstone, and resources to assist others in building upon the foundations. I am certain that Paul’s here today and gone tomorrow model of apostolic initializing isn’t the only model, the most desirable model, nor even the fundamental way Jesus designed His representatives to function. (I know people are offended because they think I am minimizing or diminishing Paul by not making his life and leadership the only or highest model, but Paul never made such a claim.)
That is, how Paul functioned doesn’t turn his experience into a principle. His principles are principles when recorded by Holy Spirit in Scripture, but his experiences aren’t principles. Paul wasn’t the last apostle. Paul wasn’t the epitome of the apostolic. Paul wasn’t the final or exclusive word on apostolic function. Many people were “called apostles” and called “apostles” who didn’t function like Paul, and Paul doesn’t demand that every apostle alter his assignment to model Paul’s. These assumptions have both limited apostolic maturity and misrepresented the function of “apostles.” In fact, Paul prepared apostles and prophets to function in ways much different from his own while they maintained the spiritual DNA, principles, and protocols, Paul laid down for kingdom leadership and Ecclesia function.
For the apostle and prophets located at any home base to fulfill their assignments, they need to become a kingdom resource for the entire region. The resource an apostle brings can be summarized by his or her assignment: apostles have the authority of their assignments; apostles represent the One who authorizes their assignment; apostles train leaders to expand and establish the assignment; and, apostles have a specific aspect within their assignments to produce the culture of the kingdom. The founding apostle may provide foundational apostolic didache upon which the assignment continues and expands, but the apostles and prophets he builds into the foundations of the Ecclesia answer to the assignment of that Ecclesia originated by the apostle. (Apostolic didache is the continuation of the ministry of Jesus no matter how far future that body of teaching may occur in history.)
Therefore, an ARC should measure success by the influence and impact of kingdom culture upon the prevailing culture of the region in which it is located. It should be a resource for altering the culture of that region through kingdom leaders. It should announce and enable a process that matures leaders to the level of function equal to the scope of the assignment. An apostle with a regional assignment should be able to produce leaders able to function at a regional level. An apostle with an international assignment should be able to mature leaders to function at an international level. An apostle whose scope of authority is localized should assume that alignment with apostles and prophets who function regionally and internationally provides him the best opportunity to fit his work into a broader blueprint of kingdom influence. The resources of a local ARC should interact with the resources of a regional and national ARC toward fuller interaction internationally.
Apostles and Prophets
Maturing either prophets or apostles at different rates of maturity produces some level of dysfunction. Building a foundation with an apostle or apostles without adding prophets to the foundation, or adding them after the initialization, produces dysfunction. If Ephesians 2:20 teaches us that apostles and prophets remain foundational to the building, “building being the metaphor for Paul’s discussion of Ecclesia, apostles and prophets must remain functional in the same ways they provided initial foundations. When we build with apostles only, as if prophets remain something other than foundational blueprint leaders, we fail to mature the apostolic function and mature the “building” because it leans too far in one direction or another, so to speak.
I am involved in producing apostles and prophets who should and can function at an international level, since I have an international assignment. I am involved in producing apostles and prophets who can function together as foundational leaders since the foundation of the kingdom “building” assumes more than one apostle or prophet for the regional and national scope of building a regional and national expression of Ecclesia, combing many assignments through apostolic alignment. I am involved in producing apostles and prophets aligned with other international leaders who carry a fuller set of blueprints for fulfilling kingdom purpose.
Essentials of an Apostolic Resource Center
- An apostle or apostolic council with eldership oversight. An apostolic center requires an apostolic leadership. The sense of the term “elder” includes both “expertise and experience” that qualifies them for oversight responsibilities. Elders have the understanding of oversight because they have some access to the blueprints of God’s purpose: how can you oversee something without a mature understanding of its purpose? Oversight provides accountability for the progress and proficiency of the blueprint production: inspect what you expect. The term “elder” and “bishop” are interchangeable and signify expertise and experience, but the terms can apply at any level or scope of assignment. The bishop of cleaning the building is as valid a designation as the bishop functioning over a region or nation, and both require some access to the blueprints though one would have significantly less than the other. The polity concepts of manmade institutions unnecessarily complicate the function: people of assignment must be matured so they function with expertise and experience in order to provide the necessary judgment and leadership to fulfill their scope of their personal assignments and provide maturity for the greater corporate assignment at local, regional, national, and international levels.
“Apostle” and “prophet” refer to a calling and function. Some have the call but lack function. Some claim the title who do not have the call or function. No preparation can give a person the call. Hanging around with apostles or prophets will not produce the call. Desiring the title because of erroneous perceptions that “apostle” or “prophet” is the highest of the ascension gifts or “as far as you can go” in promotion “up the scale” is grossly immature.
Without an apostolic and prophetic assignment, an ARC isn’t logical or possible, because the authority required to operate it will be missing.
You have the authority of your assignment, so the center must answer to that assignment as the definition of “success” and the standard by which all priorities are set. If you have an assignment, the ARC serves to fulfill that assignment because it calls for the preparation and positioning of kingdom people for function within the Ecclesia of that region.
We will more deeply define “apostle” in another section, but mention here that “apostle” is a calling and a function. Apostle is as apostle does. When the called are into the function, ordination recognizes the legitimacy of the calling and that the calling is functional. Some prefer the term “commissioning” but that seems more consistent with marking the ordained for a more specific, personal assignment. In either case, neither terms is Biblical and both terms denote recognition of calling and function.
The apostle or apostolic council needs to be resident even if the assignment is international – which a regional ARC should be – and the apostles are traveling a lot. The home base of these apostles should be apparent to all because it provides the validation both of their integrity and their specific authority.
- A home base from which to function. No matter the scope or sphere of assignment, the apostle needs a home base from which to function if he or she has a resource center. (Obviously, apostles and prophets without regional assignments can legitimately function without being part of an ARC, but they still have a home base of some type or description.) It is not a temporary enterprise even though it may mobilize to touch the most distant places on earth. The home base further emphasizes that “church isn’t a building,” but does serve as a tool utilized for kingdom leadership development. The building is a tool, so the tool should be suited to the function, and the best tool available should be secured.
Apostles and prophets move around, especially if the scope of their assignments are national and international, but they must have a strong home base if they are to lead an ARC. They must be “leaders who make leaders.” They must produce apostles and prophets, through the home base, who can also do what they do, and do more, as a basis for expanding the foundations upon which everyone assigned can build.
- The ARC must offer several aspects of the ministry of Jesus: freedom, healing, prophetic and apostolic training, worship, discipling, fathering, formalized discipling for kingdom leaders, seminars and conferences, the Ecclesia as a kingdom assembly, evangelism, teaching, and shepherding leadership initiatives, and leadership development for every aspect of culture.
To be a “resource” means to offer something foundational to many people in the region or nation in ways that strengthens the entire kingdom effort in that region or nation, to be poured out wine and broken bread to others, to the saints and through the saints to the culture.
To be a resource center that produces mature leaders, the leaders being discipled and fathered should function in and through this center. They do not change the vision but they expand the vision. They will learn to function at an international level and make that level of spiritual power and authority available at the local, regional, and national level.
Some centers are called “kingdom centers,” an appropriate descriptor. My original reason for using the term “apostolic” answers to the function of blueprint and master builder leadership as described by Paul and mentioned by Jesus.
In Matthew 16, the writer records Jesus’ discussion of Ecclesia and kingdom. My assumption remains that Ecclesia and kingdom cannot be separated, that efforts to separate kingdom from Ecclesia redefine “church” in ways that remove its original design. Jesus builds His Ecclesia because He is King of the kingdom. Nothing in the Bible suggests, hints, explains, discusses, or delineates anything other than kingdom as the basis for Ecclesia, and we cannot even understand what Jesus says about Ecclesia if we assume He isn’t King of the kingdom.
The term “apostle” cannot be adequately explained by “sent one.” Such a singular and simple effort to speak from the root word without understanding what the term means creates a false impression. Apostle is a function. Every kingdom citizen is a sent one because we represent heaven in the earth, but not everyone is an apostle. That is more technical or functionally specific term that speaks to a specific role with specific responsibilities and relationships.
Consider how Alexander the Great conquered the world as a young king. He desired that Greek culture, the culture of his kingdom, would influence all the cultures within his kingdom. He sent apostles as specific representatives, a form of ambassador, emissary, or negotiator of terms to the regions, city-states, and nations over which his kingdom had influence.
Picture this: the apostle would enter the city gates as the king’s representative carry the king’s decrees. He would call an ekklesia that would assemble the people in that city who had authority to receive the message and agree and activate the terms or hear the consequences for failing to do so. The called together into assembly was built by the apostle by virtue of the specific function he carried directly from the king whose had influence and leadership over the territory. The apostle would provide blueprints for what the king wished constructed, the elements of Greek culture – literature, arts, music, drama, philosophy, economics – the norms of Greek culture would become the norms of that culture because it was part of the kingdom.
An apostle can only expect an ekklesia where there is kingdom, and the ekklesia can only be composed of kingdom citizens.
So, the apostolic aspect of an Apostolic Resource Center provides the most specific representation and fullest blueprint perspective for the assignment and the most complete measuring tool for kingdom accountability. That said, the apostle or apostles of the center do not lord it over everybody else (at all) as much as they provide a scope of leadership that provides the most complete understanding of its objectives. The apostle’s assignment expands through preparation and positioning of spiritual children, as all five aspects of the ministry of Jesus prepare and position believers in the Ecclesia. Apostle, as a function of representation, remains responsible for the integrity of the center and the authorization for the center’s scope of influence.
In addition, the apostolic provides the place for alignment with other regional, national, and international assignments, the point of contact for alliances so that the ARC fits into the fullest expression of kingdom on earth.
The Fivefold Ministry
The ministry of Jesus, bestowed upon the Ecclesia, continues every aspect of kingdom leadership established by Jesus so He builds His Ecclesia with kingdom people into a fully functional, increasingly mature, and love-based expression of His stature. All the five aspects of His ministry continue so that a fully equipped Body represents its Head, and all the spiritual systems of that authoritative spiritual building, bride, and body operate to the benefit of each member.
The fivefold ministry provides leadership as unique aspects of the disposition and leadership of Jesus. Jesus doesn’t equip. The leaders equip. This is obvious from the Scripture, and operational as a strategy of kingdom life and living.
An ARC formalizes this process by informing and forming, reforming and conforming members of the Body as the people God created them to be so they can do what God called them to do. It also cares for the simpleminded, vulnerable, and immature in ways that honor each member appropriately and releases mature love sincerely. At the same time, aspects of the building, bride, and metaphors answer to the realities of kingdom, sonship, and warfare that are not metaphors but spiritual realities.
By “formalizing,” I mean setting principles and protocols for progress and production that are measurable in behavior and kingdom culture. Standards that determine readiness for function and behaviors appropriate to the kingdom. The kingdom leadership dynamics should include markers of achievement observable and obvious within the Body so that God-given identity, calling, and gifts receive their proper honor, to distinguish true from false. Judging true and false is an important kingdom leadership dynamic for which there are formalized procedures, principles, and protocols.
An ARC provides the a full spectrum of kingdom leadership that truly says, “Start here. Get there.” It can take the person newly-saved as far as God created and called them to go in terms of preparation and positioning to produce fullness, maturity, and fulfillment of personal and corporate purpose.
It may take twenty or thirty years for that fully operational center to reach function because all the moving parts may have to be matured, and what God calls any generation to do always requires more than one spiritual generation to complete.