For more than 15 years, we have been fully engaged in establishing apostolic resource centers in strategic locations internationally. We did not begin the present initiative as a “church.” Ecclesia should be built upon a kingdom foundation, called together into assembly to accomplish kingdom assignment. Ecclesia implements kingdom assignment.
To begin an ARC, you have to start with apostles and prophets as foundational leadership dynamics. To the extent you have both of these foundational leadership dynamics functioning, the ARC can mature, perhaps expand in numbers, but more importantly expand in influence. To some extent these foundations must be localized.
Immediately I say that someone says, “Paul didn’t remain localized.” My answer would be that Paul didn’t intend to operate ARC’s. Paul intended to prepare spiritual sons and daughters to operate them. The model of Paul would be a less than desirable model for apostolic leadership for most 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.
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 and prophet 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.
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.
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.”
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 in terms of authority: 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 where their leadership functions.
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 produces dysfunction. If Ephesians 2:20 teaches us that apostles and prophets remain foundational to the building, apostles and prophets must remain functional in the same ways they providing initial foundations.
I am involved in producing apostles and prophets 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 building assumes more than one apostle or prophet for the regional and national scope of building Ecclesia. I am involved in producing apostles and prophets aligned with other international leaders with broad blueprints of 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 for oversight. Elders have the understanding of oversight because they have the blueprints of purpose: how can you oversee something without a mature understanding of its purpose? 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 function over a region or nation. 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 mature the assignment.
Apostle refers to a calling and function. Some have the call who 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 will not give you the call. Desiring the title because of erroneous perceptions that apostle 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 assignment, an apostolic resource center isn’t possible because the function required to operate it will be missing.
We will more deeply define “apostle” in another section, but mention here that apostle is a calling and a function. When the called are into the function, ordination recognizes the calling is functional. Some prefer the term commissioning but that seems to mark the ordained for a specific assignment. In either case, the terms are not Biblical and both terms denote recognition of calling and function.
The apostle or apostolic council needs to 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.
- 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. It is not a mobile enterprise even though it may 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, then do more.
- 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, to be poured out wine and broken bread to others, especially to the saints.
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.