Posts tagged ‘Apostles’

March 21, 2012

Some Australian Apostles

In my previous post I talked about the spiritual gift of apostle.  I like C. Peter Wagner’s definition which is:

“The gift of apostle is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to assume and exercise general leadership over a number of churches with an extraordinary authority in spiritual matters that is spontaneously recognized and appreciated by those churches.”

So who are some people around at the moment who have this gift?  Here are some people I know that I believe are gifted in this way.

Brian Houston

Brian is the obvious Australian example.  Brian started a church (Hillsong Church) that has grown from a handful of people to be the largest in Australian history with over 20,000 people meeting in 4 campus’s and 18 extension services.  He is recognised as having great spiritual authority.  This is clear in 2 ways: his annual conference is attended by well over 10,000 people each year, many of them pastors, and secondly because his peers elected him to the position of National President of the Assemblies of God in 1997.  If Brian Houston is not an apostle thenAustraliadoesn’t have one.

Phil Pringle

Phil has essentially started an entire denomination – Christian City Church, who changed their name to C3 Churches.  C3 has planted churches not just in Australia but all over the world.  Phil planted the first church onSydney’s northern beaches where the movement is headquartered.

Philip Jensen

Philip is an Anglican priest, and the former rector of St Matthias Church in Centennial Park in Eastern Sydney.  He now serves as the Dean of St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney.  Philip quite possibly would not believe that the gift of apostle still exists but when you read his history ( link to this click here ) it is a biography that screams “I am an apostle”.  His leadership has produced a huge harvest of people committing themselves to full time church leadership.  He also has a strong track record of church planting despite working within denominational structures that often make this difficult.

Steve Wyndham

Steve certainly does not have the profile of the others listed here.  He is the former pastor of my church (Yarra Plenty Churchi n Melbourne’s North East) before it became a campus of Planetshakers Church.  Steve has now moved into a role working with aUK based missions group called Next Level International.  His role is to oversee church planting and church health in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.  Pentecostal churches in those countries are (generally) very small and face significant opposition.  Steve’s authority is respected and received by pastors of churches that usually number 10 to 20 people.

I put Steve in this list to make the point that it is not just mega church pastors that have this gift.  Steve’s gift is not at the same level as the Brian Houston’s of the world, but he is operating in the gift of apostle on a smaller scale.  That is not a criticism of him – it is the Holy Spirit who gives the gifts out.  He gives to some in a greater measure than others.  The parable of the talents makes this point – Matthew 25:14-30.  Our role is simply to be faithful with what the Lord has given us.

I have left off this list my own pastor – Russell Evans – whose gift I commented on in my last post.  This gift abounds within his family, and I will do a post about them in due course.

What about you?  Do you know of anyone that you think has this gift?  Who comes to mind?

March 14, 2012

The Spiritual Gift of Apostle

Personally this is an exciting time for me because my church –Yarra Plenty Church in north east Melbourne, has just voted to join a much larger church, Planetshakers Church, and become their north east suburbs campus.

The main reason that I am excited about this is that Planetshakers are led by someone who I regard as having the spiritual gift of apostle – Russell Evans.  Russell planted Planetshakers just 8 years ago and has proceeded to break every growth record Australia has.  Where the journey will end is anyone’s guess, but I’m delighted that I get to go along for the ride.

One of the curious things about the spiritual gifts that the bible discusses is that definitions are not given.  We are left to work out for ourselves exactly what the gifts are and are not.

Some believe that the gift of apostle no longer exists, and that at the end of the apostolic age (with the completion of the New Testament) the gift ceased.  I don’t accept this argument.  There is simply no statement in the bible that these gifts will cease.  It is simply an argument from experience (or the lack of experience more precisely).

Bill Hybels in his Network course notes that the “office” of apostle held by the original disciples of Christ was a unique role that no longer exists but the “role” of apostle continues.  He goes on to define apostle as “the divine ability to start and oversee the development of new churches or ministry structures.”

Another definition is given by C. Peter Wagner – “The gift of apostle is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to assume and exercise general leadership over a number of churches with an extraordinary authority in spiritual matters that is spontaneously recognized and appreciated by those churches.”

The Hybels definition focuses more on starting new ministries where the emphasis in the Wagner definition is on authority.  Personally I prefer the Wagner definition.  When my church voted to join Planetshakers Church there were 174 votes cast.  Russell Evans had preached 2 weeks prior so the congregation knew who he was.  The result of the vote was 174 in favour of joining Planetshakers and zero against.  It was a stark example of ‘extraordinary authority in spiritual matters’ being ‘recognised and appreciated’.

The reason that Russell Evan’s apostolic gift has me so excited is because I can see that when someone labours underneath the authority of an apostle they achieve far more for the kingdom than what they would if they were doing the same thing on their own.  Whatever God has in mind for me it will be much more fruitful because of Russell’s giftedness and calling.  It’s a strange thing – I don’t know why it works that way but I have a very deep conviction that I will do everything God has in mind for me to do by working underneath the apostle that God has put over me.  Bring it on!

John

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