FUNCTION & FORM IN THE APOSTOLIC & PROPHETIC
Part 2
Bill Click

Although there can be several terms to define "the ideal church," when attempting to conceive it the tendency is to think statically, not dynamically.

By imagining a monolithic form and striving to make everyone and everything fit into it, we completely miss becoming the unique, divinely-imprinted, manifold expression of Christ's Body represented by the
teaching and example of the New Testament. Instead of identifying, equipping and releasing the unique function of everyone's grace, we tend to imagine a uniform structure which is not only overly simplistic, but prefabricated and also non-biblical. In the Acts, Epistles and book of Revelation we see there were differing forms of foundational expressions of the church. Whereas the essential building materials of Apostles and Prophets remains emphasized and prescribed universally, each individual example of that foundation varied greatly in its formation in every context as it was established.

In those cases, we see forms and structures of ministry that were the result of the way they each came to function as assembled and mobilized. As a result, each body came to be not only effective, but also known for their Spiritual arsenal and the way it was deployed.

Their structures resulted from the use of their gifts, serving not only to provide a basis for the church to operate but also to reproduce as well. What they did was the result of who they were in the Lord. Their ministry's were the result of intimacy which released the Spirit within, producing a Divine Effect on others. Even when pressed by immediate needs, their emphasis was not on "doing what needs to be done," nor did they instill that into others. Administration was the caboose, not the locomotive. The earliest church was effective because of the degree to which it was relational– first with God, second with the harvest field, and third with those of God. To remain in that priority, the Apostles and Prophets were predisposed to God and for receiving and releasing the fresh word and anointing which resulted (Acts 6:4; 1Cor.14:18; 2Cor.11:27).

This is completely opposite from administering 'the work of the ministry' with the intent of preserving, supporting and/or advancing the structure of the preexisting organization. Jesus was building His Church; this He told them plainly, without qualification. They had been given "keys" for the advance of the Kingdom, whose presence the church was to stay inside to be viable and ongoing (Mt.16:18-19; Ro.14:17). They understood the way to preserve and advance what God was doing was through abiding and even increasing in the integrity of the presence of God that was corporately their's as they gathered (Lk.17:20-21; Mt.18:19-20).

In the same way that "the Lord added to the church those who were being saved" then, the gist of what restored Apostolic/Prophetic foundation is serves to bring the church forward into the "now" of God by going back into original functions.

The ongoing fruit of restoring foundation corporately reorients the body in order to personally redevelop both individuals and corporate wineskins (Acts 2:47). Ones who have been given that degree of spiritual authority who are walking with God in their Divinely Designed function way can pour this mortar for those who are hungry and thirsty now.

There is an axiom which says "anointing begets ministry and structure begets order." This is true, and we see this as a living principle of the Apostles as they cooperated with Christ for the intent of world evangelism, successive reproduction, multiplications of ministries, and movements into maturity (Mt.28:16-20; Eph.4:11-16). But this is not true in terms of static, inflexible regulations and policies which make rules more important than people. Neither is it true in regard to codes and procedures which necessarily sacrifice an individual's opportunity and capacity for experiencing God, growing in service, and coming into destiny. All in order to fill a slot or maintain program emphases which are not part of God's agenda.

In each instance throughout the New Testament, it was the release of their Apostolic and Prophetic grace from Christ which resulted in the formation of churches through a powerful witness which demonstrated His Kingship by signs, wonders and miracles.

And it was as these churches were equipped in the graces and knowledge of God that structures of Spirit-filled serving ministries (later coming to be known as Deacons and Elders) were established (Acts 6:1-8; 20:28). At every turn, it was as the continuing work of the Spirit was entered into by individuals that authentic ministries and structures were produced. In each instance, Apostolic and Prophetic leadership was to properly discern what God was doing, and position themselves and those of their company for allowing it to continue coming forth in an increasing way that all be equipped for continuing Christ's ministry in the earth (Acts 6:1-4; 13:1-4; 20:17-38; 1Cor.14:39; Eph.4:11-12).

An excellent example of this is the pooling of Apostles at Jerusalem before, during and after the explosion of life that occurred during Pentecost. God had sovereignly brought people together, using the migration for the Jewish Festival. He then released that "first wave" of Apostolic Evangelism and birthing of the Church through the presence of the Kingdom of God. Jerusalem was "the place" where God was moving in the Spirit, and all because of the unfathomably wise strategy of the Lord (Ro.11:33-36). As people returned to their locales full of Christ and desiring to know their Messiah more, Jerusalem became the essential point of migration and leadership supply for a time. We also see harvests in Samaria, southward with the Ethiopian eunuch, and from Azotus all the way into Caesarea. The Church then also spreads (by persecution) into Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch. All of this can clearly be traced to Jerusalem and Pentecost.

Later, we see Antioch becoming the "war department" of the church in Acts 13 (& also during the generations just beyond the writing period of the New Testament).

Apostolic mission is conceived, received, and commissioned through the "Prophets and Teachers" there.* How does this Apostolic mission arise? Out of the leaders abandoning themselves to God's presence, seeking His face by "ministering to the Lord and fasting" (Acts 13:1-3).

Out of that passage we can see a primary model for Apostolic advance today. It is one which is attempted in many places, in various times, with differing results. When leaders within a sphere having true Divine relationship in the Spirit come together in His presence for ministering to the Lord, then He will release his agenda through it. The result will not only be soul's won to Christ, but reproduction of the various graces of the church through the powerful expression of the Kingdom of God as it is sent among "all nations."**

The challenge of using Acts 13 as a paradigm for city models of leadership, cooperative efforts or evangelism can be very great. The primary obstacle is most often getting those who lead "over themselves" in the presence of other ministers. You know the story: the leaders of the not-so-large ministries arrive first, taking the seats of least honor. Appearing humble (awaiting those of greater "stature" provides the impetus for such humility), they may mingle quietly a bit among themselves. As those of more prominence arrive, the "processional" can be seen to take form until the most visible (translated "enviable") leader makes the most obvious entrance noticeably after the meeting was scheduled to start. Those desiring to emulate the most visible leader quickly flock about, making over them as though they were royalty. We leaders are often the first to preach that we are all Kings and Priests unto the Lord, but we are often the last to see ourselves as equal in His Kingdom with everyone else.

Because of our obvious tendency to idolize whatever is larger and more influential, we often miss it right off the bat by making the meeting about us and ours, instead of about the Lord Himself. But we also reveal our hearts when we so obviously demonstrate our desire to be like others. And as long as we do not defer to the King and His Presence, seeking Him and allowing Him to release His agenda and make known His decrees, all else is not only futile, but is also just wasted time. But out of proper deference to the King, attending unto Him and preferring His sustenance to any table that could be set before us by man, we may receive His direction, can readily agree with it, and will position ourselves for all He has for us (Acts 13:2-3).

There is a difference between a meeting of ministers where there is vertical authority and one where there is horizontal authority.

A meeting in which vertical authority is in place is not what we are speaking of in this instance. The following also does not refer to an equipping session, for even in those instances there is the unmistakable understanding that the ones equipping are in authority. We are (instead) talking about established ministers of the Gift of Christ meeting together who do not seek authority over one another or to be under the authority of anyone present. That is the only true meeting where horizontal authority can function in unity and flourish as God intends. Not only that, but we must note that there is the clear understanding in Acts 13 that it was a meeting of Prophets who were Equippers.*** True functions of horizontal authority require like-gifting in order to minimize the seemingly endless "jockeying for position" which occurs in the body among leadership in various locales.
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*An alternative Greek reading for "prophets and teachers" in Acts 13:1 is "prophets who were also teachers" (which would also explain why who were prophets and who were teachers was not specified). This use of the Greek also has a similar effect on such passages as Ephesians 4:11 ( "apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, all of whom are teachers") and even arguably on Ephesians 2:20 & 3:5 as well ("apostles who are also prophets").

** "people groups" is the literal translation of ta ethnae "all nations" in Mt.28:19, and directly implies that it was "clans" and "tribes" who were to be reached. The reality of the prevalence in that day of the Greek language and culture also gives us a parallel– that for us to take the Gospel to "all nations" means that we invade every sub-culture and ethnic pocket– right in our own cities, counties and outlying areas.

*** There were no Apostles in Antioch at that time. Barnabas & Paul receive the Apostolic commission there, however.