Kingdom Culture and Ecclesia
For more than 17 years, we have been fully engaged in establishing kingdom centers in strategic locations internationally. We did not plant a church because we knew that a center functions so differently from modern church-anity that people would continuously gravitate toward the existing 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 kingdom assignment, given to kingdom leaders.
To begin a center, you begin with apostles and prophets as foundational kingdom leadership dynamics. To the extent you have both of these foundational leadership dynamics functioning, the center’s foundation can support existing structure at each stage of growth, mature in function, expand in numbers without sacrificing original purpose, and expand in influence. These foundations must be localized, that is, they must function from a strong home base so that influence extend without outrunning the supply line.
Immediately I hear that someone says, “Paul didn’t remain localized.” My answer would be that Paul didn’t intend to operate kingdom centers but to initialize kingdom in the scope of his assignment, and Paul did localize whenever and wherever he functioned in this way. Paul intended to normalize kingdom culture, Gospel message, and leadership development to non-Jews, blazing out like a burning torch long before the maturity of what he originated.
Paul intended to prepare spiritual sons and daughters to operate kingdom centers. 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. That is, we do err to assume that Paul is the only or highest or most obvious apostolic model.
Paul’s “foundational function” was a whole bunch different from the foundational function of other apostles and prophets and the ones he set into place as oversight elders.
Very few modern apostles function like Paul, for very good reasons. They are authentic apostles, but their assignments aren’t like Paul’s in any particularly measurable or observable ways. Since Paul didn’t begin any of his kingdom establishing efforts as “church plants” and none of the apostolic models of Ecclesia match our present ones, we recognize that modern church-anity isn’t very apostolic. Apostles understand that Paul established kingdom and “ekklesia” happened, that once we establish kingdom and kingdom culture, Ecclesia functions from that on earth as it is in heaven reality.
Paul prepared kingdom leaders so the Ecclesia would function with kingdom leadership dynamics. He had the momentum of John the Baptist and the ministry of Jesus upon, within, around, and through him in ways we do not presently have them in most nations.
We can certainly discover elements of apostolic fathering from Paul, (and some 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 centered upon 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 the originating leaders did initialize things in unique ways that we are not. We do not initialize things in the same sense or manner because we are centuries down the road of history from that set of kingdom conditions. That is, foundational leaders for Kingdom Centers must be developed, not recruited, so that kingdom foundations 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 blueprints, spiritual dimension settings true to the Chief Cornerstone, and resources to assist others in building upon set foundations.
I am certain that a Paul-like leadership, an apostolic initializing model of “here today and gone tomorrow,” isn’t the only model, the most desirable model, nor even the fundamental way Jesus designed His representatives to function. 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 his. 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 functionality.
For the apostle and prophets located at any Kingdom Center home base to fulfill personal assignments, they need to become kingdom resource for the entire region.
The resource an apostle brings can be summarized by assignment: apostles have the authority of their assignments; apostles represent the One who authorizes their assignments; apostles train leaders to expand and establish the assignments; and, apostles have a specific aspect of assignment 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 must answer to the assignment. Ecclesia originated by the these apostle assignments receive this foundational assignments and kingdom culture from the assignment more than the apostle, but the measurement of success must answer to the origination blueprints. (Apostolic didache is the continuation of the ministry of Jesus no matter how far into the future that body of teaching may enter history.)
Therefore, a kingdom center 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 Kingdom Center should interact with the resources of a regional and national Kingdom Centers, moving toward fuller interaction internationally.
Apostles and Prophets
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 Ecclesia as a building, “building” being the metaphor for Paul’s discussion of Ecclesia, apostles and prophets must remain functional during the entire process in the same ways they provided initial function at the laying of the foundations. When we build with apostles only, as if prophets remain something “other than,” we fail to mature the apostolic function in marked, personal ways. Without revelatory maturity, the “building” 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. I have an international assignment so I train everyone to function at that level. I am involved in producing apostles and prophets who can function together as foundational leaders since the foundation of kingdom “building” assumes more than one apostle or prophet for the regional and national scope. Combining 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, in hopes that these leaders maintain strong home base Kingdom Centers as well.
Essentials of a Center
Apostle or an apostolic council as the eldership oversight requires apostolic leadership. The sense of the interchangeable terms “elder, bishop, presbyter,” includes “expertise and experience” that qualifies leaders for oversight responsibilities. Elders have the understanding of oversight because they have 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, and the terms apply at any level or scope of assignment; hence, the need to clarify “apostolic council” from “take care of the buildings and grounds council” or “shepherding council.” The bishop of “cleaning the building” is as valid a designation of a bishop as the bishop functioning over a region or nation in terms of what the word means and how it applies, and both require some access to the blueprints though one would have significantly less than the other.
The polity concepts of manmade institutions usually unnecessarily complicate 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 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 in its malpractice.
Without an apostolic and prophetic assignment, a Kingdom Center isn’t logical or even possible, because the authority required to operate it will be missing.
Leading a Kingdom Center
You have the authority of your assignment, so the center you produce must answer to that assignment for a definition of “success” and the standard by which all priorities are set. If you have an apostolic assignment, the Kingdom Center serves to fulfill that assignment. It calls for the preparation and positioning of kingdom leaders for function within the Ecclesia Jesus builds in that region.
“Apostle” is calling and function. Apostle is as apostle does. When the called come into the function, ordination recognizes the legitimacy of the calling and that the calling is now functional. Some prefer the term “commissioning” but that seems more consistent with marking the ordained for a more specific, personal assignment. In either case, both terms are extra-Biblical except as we define them in application, and both terms denote recognition of calling and function.
The apostle or apostolic council needs to be resident even if the assignment is international, and the apostles are traveling. The home base of these apostles should be apparent to all, because it provides the validation for their integrity and specific authority.
No matter the scope or sphere of assignment, the apostle needs a home base from which to function. It is not a temporary enterprise even though it may mobilize to touch the most distant places on earth. (Ecclesia may be temporary in form and expression of kingdom, but kingdom isn’t temporary.) The home base campus serves as a tool utilized for kingdom leadership development. The physical buildings are tools, so the tools should be suited to the function, and the best tools available should be secured.
Apostles and prophets move around, especially if the scope of their assignments are national and international, but each of them must have a strong home base. 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 than they do, as a basis for expanding the foundations upon which everyone assigned can build.
The center 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 center means to offer something foundational to many people in the region or nation in ways that strengthens the entire kingdom effort, to be poured out wine and broken bread to others, to the saints and through the saints to the culture.
To be a center that produces mature leaders, the leaders being discipled and fathered should function in and through this center. These leaders do not change the vision but they do expand the vision. They learn to function at a local, regional, and international level, given the scope of apostolic assignment, and make that level of spiritual power and authority available at the local, regional, and national level. The home base of an international ministry makes international kingdom authority and power available at the local level.
We call them “kingdom centers,” because that is an appropriate descriptor. My original reason for using the term “apostolic” in reference to these centers answers to the function of blueprint and master builder leadership as described by Paul and mentioned by Jesus.
Matthew records Jesus’ discussion of Ecclesia and kingdom in his Gospel: “I will build My Ecclesia upon this rock foundation and the strategically positioned authorities of hades will not withstand its influence.” Holy Spirit chose this Greek word to describe what Jesus builds that alters the prevailing spiritual condition and influence wherever He builds it. The term “builds” has little to do with our sense of “building as a physical structure” because He is talking about ekklesia which is not a construction of a facility term at all.
My presupposition 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.” [FOr more on this premises read, Apostle, by Dr Don Lynch, Amazon.com.] Such an overly simplistic misrepresentation of the root word as a title for positional authority, without understanding what the term means, creates a misleading and false impression.
Apostle is a function. Every kingdom citizen is a sent one because we represent heaven in the earth since the kingdom itself represents the King, but not everyone within the kingdom is an apostle. A more technical or functionally specific term, apostolos speaks to a specific role with specific responsibilities and relationships, a special calling and function.
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 place where all regional business and government was centered – 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 who had influence and leadership over the territory.
The apostle would provide and communicate directions and blueprints for what the king wished constructed, so the elements of Greek culture – literature, arts, music, drama, philosophy, economics – and the norms of Greek culture would become the norms of that culture because it was part of the Greek kingdom.
An apostle can only expect an ekklesia where there is kingdom, and the ekklesia can only be composed of kingdom citizens. Then, the Kingdom Center looks like the gates of heaven opposing, resetting, and displacing the gates of hades in a region.
So, the apostolic aspect of a Kingdom Center provides the most specific representation and fullest blueprint perspective of 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 represent a scope of leadership that provides the most complete understanding of the objectives of the King. The apostle’s assignment expands into and through preparation and positioning of spiritual children, working with all five aspects of the ministry of Jesus, to prepare and position believers within the Ecclesia. Apostle, as representative, remains responsible for the integrity of the center, and continues as the King’s delegate of authorization for the center’s scope of influence.
In addition, the apostolic provides a place for alignment with other regional, national, and international assignments, the point of contact for these alliances. The Kingdom Center matrix fits into the fullest expression of kingdom on earth.
The Fivefold Ministry
The ministry of Jesus, bestowed upon the Ecclesia, carries on and continues every aspect of kingdom leadership established and expressed by Jesus Himself. He builds His Ecclesia with and through kingdom leaders who lead kingdom people into a fully functional, increasingly mature, and love-based expression of His stature. All the five aspects of His ministry continue in history as the ministry of the Kingdom Ecclesia, so that a fully constructed building of living stones, a fully equipped Body of operating parts, and a fully adorned Bride of holy beauty is available in the earth. All the spiritual systems of that authoritative spiritual oikos or household, with a sense of family but not dominated by “family is church,” operate to the benefit of each kingdom citizen.
The fivefold ministry provides all leaders unique aspects of the disposition and leadership of Jesus. Jesus does not equip. The kingdom leaders equip. This is obvious from the Scripture. This is the working definition of leadership and the operational strategy of kingdom life and living.
A Kingdom Center formalizes this process by informing and forming, reforming and conforming members as the people God created them to be so they can do what God called them to do. It cares for the simple-minded, vulnerable, and immature in ways that honor each member appropriately and releases mature love sincerely. At the same time, aspects of the building, body, and bride metaphors that answer to the realities of kingdom, sonship, and warfare, mature every individual from where they are to where they need to be.
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.
A Kingdom Center provides the a full spectrum of kingdom leadership that 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, but a Kingdom Center incorporates all the New Testament kingdom vision and purpose.
- Intercession training and continuous intercession applications that become part of each aspect of the ministry. Intercession is the ministry, and ministry birthed in intercession operates in ministry. A Kingdom Centers makes intercessors. A Kingdom Center matures intercessors. A Kingdom Center matches intercession with ministry so that intercession does not take on a separate, life of its own operation. Intercession is life and lifestyle in kingdom culture and the first step in establishing a Kingdom Center. If you do not have intercessors, make some. Then, establish a PrayerMountain event that weekly trains and matures intercession by doing intercession. Train separately. When it comes to maturing intercession, you mature the intercessor as a leader but no one can learn or mature intercession without praying.
- FreedomMinistry is the message of the Cross as the Power of God. Freedom is about getting freedom and maintaining freedom. FreedomMinistry is about maturing in freedom by becoming a person who lives in expanding and deepening freedom. FreedomMinistry is the basis for discipling believers into matured leaders. Our version has four levels: Power of the Cross and Power of the Spirit as encounter seminars; and Serving Leaders and Personal Purpose and Identity as encounters seminars for leadership.
- A training forum that is formalized, awarding degrees that measure personal learning and ministry, paid for by the students, international in leadership training with personal growth measurements; students learn to receive on their own by reading and writing, and practical ministry assignments provide for measurement of function. This is best done formally, with tuition costs, moving leaders to diploma graduation.
- Revival strategies for regional influence and impact with an aim of being prepared for Great Awakening Revival.
- FreedomNite as a weekly event for healing, freedom, and prophetic ministry.
- David’s Army, a regional gathering for Remnant people that emphasizes worship and intercession warfare blended so well you cannot tell the difference between the leading to a David’s Tent form of regional watch of worship and intercession.
- A FirstDay event for Sunday morning that provides a bridge between the present models of church and the expanded model of Ecclesia.