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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Ephesians 4 Ministries - A Fresh Look (3)

Finally continuing with some reflections on ministry and leadership.

I mentioned in my last post on Ephesians 4 ministries that we might find measures of each of the gifts (v.11) across a church community, a local church. Some readers may have been fine with that until I mentioned the apostolic gift. In my own church history, we have so magnified this gift as a governmental 'position', surrounded it with a unreasonable aura and put apostles on pedestals for the unreachable, charismatic few. By doing so, we possibly ended up with a distorted perspective and even a damaging practice.

A little anecdote then; recently I received an email from a young man in the church who expressed that he felt he had an apostolic gift. My response is telling. In the past, I would have been worried that I might have to let this guy down gradually and gently as I helped him to realise he may well not be able to reach such dizzying heights. In fact, this time I thanked God and encouraged him because I thought he might well have a measure of that gift; in his case he does have a strong awareness of the heavenly, supernatural realm which I think is one mark of the apostolic gift and something we need more of. It does not mean he is necessarily going to become an apostle in the sense of a pioneer and builder of churches, a father to other ministry gifts and churches or a steward of the mysteries of the gospel (though he might). But we should nevertheless make space for and honour the measure and aspects of this gift that people in the local church have.

I say this not to dishonour those who are apostles (for they are vitally important) but to de-mystify the gift and de-pedestal the person, and thereby re-focus on the dimension of ministry and the perspective of church life and mission that this gift area brings to the body.

4 comments:

  1. Well 'de-pedestalled'! There are Apostles with a capital 'A' but many more with a small'a' -essential to the local church.

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    1. Thanks, Ralph.
      I like making up words!

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  2. Hey Trevor, when you said:
    "...he does have a strong awareness of the heavenly, supernatural realm which I think is one mark of the apostolic gift and something we need more of. It does not mean he is necessarily going to become an apostle in the sense of a pioneer and builder of churches, a father to other ministry gifts and churches or a steward of the mysteries of the gospel..."
    could you please explain a little to me about where your understanding of the marks or functions of an apostle come from?
    Thanks, I'm really intrigued!

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    1. I've indicated in earlier post on the Bible and leadership that I get my understanding on issues of faith and practice (e.g. on ministry and leadership, including the apostolic gift and calling) from a combination of the principles and patterns that emerge from the story of the New Testament church; and I then combine that with learning from parts of the body of Christ as they seek to work this out and be led by the Spirit into all truth, in our journeys in our different contexts. This would include listening to speakers and writers on apostolic ministry, trying to engage with them as much as possible, and making my own observations form where I see it has worked well, always remaining open to have my assumptions challenged. Do you want me to be more specific about how this has happened for me recently in terms of apostles?

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