The role of apostolic ministry is vital to these times. The world is crying out for authentic leadership and that is where the ekklesia must step in. The fivefold ministry is how God shapes and forms the ekklesia, which is Christ’s Body in the earth.
As someone whose background is the UK Apostolic Church, I hold to the belief that apostles are not just pioneers engaged in church planting but hold a governmental role in the ekklesia. Some would argue that apostles are on an equal ranking with the other fivefold gifts but I think that is a misreading of God’s intent.
Apostles are generals and field marshalls in God’s strategic command. This is a leadership role.
There is some emphasis in certain circles on a plurality of elders as a leadership model. This is certainly biblical but works best, to my observation, under the auspices of an apostolic leader. I agree with people like Jeremiah Johnson who see one-man “Senior Pastor” ministry as skewed leadership leading to potential abuse and probable burnout. But not if the Senior Pastor is an apostle and certainly not if he delegates adequate leadership authority to leaders under him.
Again, this is an area where the Apostolic Church mostly got it right. Elders in the AC have the daily care of the churches but are answerable to an apostle. This seems a good balance. Johnson’s insistence on elders being seasoned fivefold ministers was certainly covered in Apostolic Church assemblies of my acquaintance with recognised teachers, prophets and those of a pastoral heart sprinkled through the eldership of those churches.
This model elevates eldership above its tired-old-men concept back into a biblical paradigm of dynamic leadership for the local church. Elders should be buzzing, happening and developing the ekklesias they lead, regardless of their physical age.
It is the apostle’s role to appoint elders and here we see the need for the recognition and developing of fivefold gifting, as well as other gifts and callings in the Body. Where available, an apostle will seek to have a healthy, balanced spread of gifting across a team of elders. This makes the fivefold ministry not so much a high-level elite leadership team at a regional or national level as a local expression of Christ’s ekklesia.
Although our traditional church culture would probably cause us to see apostles closely linked with pastors, the biblical alignment is apostles and prophets. In the Apostolic Church I knew, this partnership was commonly recognised and encouraged. One reason for that is that both offices were not recognised for several hundred years of post-Reformation Christianity. In fact, it was the Apostolic Church that was God’s instrument in restoring the glorious truth of valid apostolic and prophetic ministry to the Body of Christ, long before C. Peter Wagner and the NAR got in on the act. In the UK, Bryn Jones and the Restoration movement helped take the restoration of the apostle and prophet office to a wider Pentecostal/Charismatic audience.
I believe very strongly that apostolic ministry must be recognised and thrust into prominence today. It is interesting to note that in Revelation chapter 18 at the fall of Babylon – an event most streams would see as future (albeit possibly imminently) – apostles and prophets are particularly referenced and commanded to rejoice over the awesome judgement on Babylon. This would infer that the ministry of apostles and prophets is vitally connected with Babylon’s fall. I personally see the Apostolic Church has an important role to play in these matters and have taught these things in the Apostolic Church and other places.
This is the Apostolic Age and the ekklesia has to catch up with this – and fast! Apostles must be recognised and released into apostolic ministry. Remember that apostles and prophets are the foundation of authentic ekklesia, Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone. You cannot build Church as God would have it without this foundation.