ARE DENOMINATIONAL CHURCHES FULFILLING GOD’S PURPOSE?

Roger E. Olson is Emeritus Professor of Christian Theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University in Waco, Texas (USA). This is his testimony about a Southern Baptist denomination in the USA.

I recently received the Summer 2021 issue of my current Baptist denomination magazine. This denomination, like many, denies being a denomination and calls itself a fellowship of churches but, sociologically, anyway, it is a denomination. I am still a member of one of its affiliated churches and was a member of another one for many years. I won’t go into the reasons I changed congregations but it had a woman pastor.

The magazine I referred to above (Summer 2021) is about my current Baptist denomination’s impact on the world and contains stories from around the world about its field personnel. (The words missionary and missionaries are notably missing). The magazine contains about ten articles profiling this Baptist denomination’s work in America and many countries. I sat down and read every article, even every word of the magazine. Notably missing, so far as I can tell, is any mention of evangelism, telling people about Jesus and inviting them to accept him as Savior and Lord, or conversion. Everything is about social work, advocacy for the disadvantaged, and offering suffering people hospitality and hope. But nary a word about inviting people to become Christians or even just to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

One article says that the deepest root of our Baptist story is freedom of religion or belief for all. That is an important emphasis of traditional Baptist belief and practice, but is it the deepest root of our Baptist story? I don’t think so. Baptists are Christians (or should be) and the deepest root of our story, together with all true Christians, is Jesus Christ and the gospel. I failed to find the gospel of Jesus Christ explicitly mentioned in this magazine which makes my heart sink. Twenty-two years ago, when I first entered this fellowship, this Baptist denomination, I researched it, met some of its leaders, joined one of its leading congregations, began teaching at a seminary affiliated with it, and knew that it was Jesus-centered and gospel-centered and mission and witness-centered. I am sure they will say they still are all of those things, but this magazine leads me to think otherwise.

Lacking is any conversion story or any story of a partner who leads someone to faith in Jesus Christ. Nothing even remotely approaching that appears in the magazine so far as I can tell.

Put this together with the testimony I heard not long ago at my church and I am convinced, but willing to be unconvinced, that this denomination has lost its way. She is a paid partner of the denomination working with immigrants to the United States. She talked endlessly about transforming initiatives but failed even once to mention witness to Jesus Christ. The transforming initiatives were/are what the magazine calls offering hospitality and hope to people with physical and emotional needs. Not once during her thirty-minute presentation did she say anything about telling people about Jesus.

Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that my denomination is no longer evangelical, even in a broad sense. I am open to correction, but someone from the denomination will have to tell me how and where its partners in America and around the world are actively inviting people to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior by faith in him (conversion).

I believe the “end times” church will be like the church described in the Book of Acts and the church in countries where Christians are already under persecution. Check out http://www.HouseChurches.net and http://www.smallgroups.com

MY AFRICA TRIP REPORT

I had several objectives for making the trip to Kenya to meet with Charles Otieno Owino head of the Kenya House Church movement and the other KHC leaders.

KHC was created to serve Kenya’s and now Tanzania’s rural areas.

I connected with Charles almost three years ago now on LinkedIn. It was largely because of my posts on www.livengeternal.net where I said the end-times church will be like the church described in the Book of Acts – House Churches.

In one post, I used the example of Francis Chan. He walked away from a church of 5000 to establish house churches with no paid pastors or buildings. Francis said the church was all about making disciples that make disciples. If a house church has not trained up disciples prepared to start another house church with family and friends in a short period of time (e.g. 6 months) then the church is not functioning as it should, he said.

Charles responded to my post with a hearty endorsement and outlined what KHC is doing in Kenya. Subsequently, I have been supporting KHC ever since to send out missionaries to establish House churches in new areas. KHC has grown from six to twenty-two house churches in the period I have been working with Charles.

We had one Zoom Meeting when Charles had all the house church leaders together for a time of thanks, praise, worship, and seeking God’s guidance on the way forward. However, despite my age, I felt God was prompting me to visit KHC to meet the leaders and establish where they were at in terms of the basics:

1. Belief in an inerrant Bible including its young earth history. This is why we had a Zoom Meeting with Creation Ministries International at the start of our three-day meeting.  

2. The Bible provides the true history of this universe. Creation, The Fall, Noah’s worldwide flood, God established the nations at Babel, God established his own nation Israel (role and purpose), central to that purpose, Jesus enters history at the prophesied time to save mankind:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.John 14:6

This was Jesus’ first coming as the sacrificial lamb; however, the Bible clearly reveals that He will come a second time as the victorious King to establish His Millennial Kingdom on this earth. Prophesied end times signs indicate that His second coming is not too far distant. The principal prophesied end times sign was Israel becoming a nation again in 1948.

3. To ensure KHC understood the role and purpose of Israel in God’s plan for this universe including Jesus’ second coming to rule and reign over the nations with the resurrected saints from a glorious, restructured Jerusalem for one thousand years.

The picture was taken at the end of our three-day meeting a few of the pastors had to leave early to travel home. The dirt tracks to the meeting site were horrendous, certainly not roads.

Pastor Charles is at the far left of the picture

RESULT:

Alfred and me

I was hoping the English of the house church leaders was good enough so that we would not need an interpreter. This was not the case. Fortunately, Alfred the brother of the KHC leader, Charles is a teacher, and we proved a good team.

The agenda of the meeting shows the focus on the Bible providing a true history of this world, Israel, and preparing for Jesus’ return to rule and reign on this earth with the resurrected Saints for one thousand years.

The Holy Spirit led me to make one major addition to the program, we had two sessions on the role of the Holy Spirit in living the Christian life.

KENYA HOUSE CHURCH MOVEMENT

Preparing for Jesus’ Return

THREE DAY CONFERENCE

April 17th to 19th 2022

SUNDAY APRIL 17th

9.00 am       Welcome and Introduction     Charles Otieno

9.15 am       Purpose of my trip                    Ron Edwards (R.E.)

10.00 am     CMI Zoom Meeting              Pieter le Roux CMI

11.00 am     Rest time

11.15 am     Bible provides true history of the universe (19) – R.E

12.30 pm     Lunch

2.00 pm       GOD & ISRAEL – NATIONS ARE GOD’S IDEA (24) – R.E.

3.30 pm       Rest time

3.45 pm       ISRAEL – HISTORY & PURPOSE (35) – R.E.

4.45 pm       Rest time

5.00 pm       ISRAEL – FULLY RESTORED (65) – R.E.

6.00 pm       Close

MONDAY APRIL !8th

9.00 am       ISRAEL FEAST DAYS IN TYPE & PROPHECY (33) – R.E.

10.15 am     Rest Break

10.30 am     Presentation continued

12.45 pm     Lunch

2.00 pm    PROPHESIED RESTORATION OF THE LAND TO ISRAEL (100) – R.E.

3.30 pm    Rest time

3.45 pm    Presentation continued

4.45 pm    Rest time

5.00 pm    Presentation continued

6.00 pm    Close

TUESDAY APRIL 19th

9.00 am    ARE WE READY FOR JESUS? How to Prepare for His Return (58) – R.E.

10.15 am Rest Break

10.30 am Presentation Continued

12.45 pm Lunch

2.00 pm   Presentation Continued

3.30 pm   Rest time

3.45 pm Presentation continued

4.45 pm Rest time

5.00 pm Presentation continued

6.00 pm Close

GOD AT WORK IN UKRAINE (PART 2)

Christians are living out Jesus’ teachings as Ukrainians flee invasion. A movement of love, generosity sweeps Poland as it opens arms to Ukrainians 

 More than 60% of the 110 Poland Baptist churches are responding to the needs of Ukrainian refugees.

CHELM, Poland — With little more than the clothes on their back, hundreds of Ukrainian women and children wait hours in line to cross into Poland as part of the largest movement of people in Europe since World War II. They shuffle their feet quietly, even apprehensively, toward an unknown future in an unfamiliar country.

They’re stunned when they arrive. Volunteers have taped Ukrainian flags in their car windows and signs in Ukrainian reading, “free rides to shelter.” The drivers take the refugees to the Baptist church in Chelm, only a few kilometers up the road where people from around the world — Poland, Latvia, England, the United States, to name a few — are offering a place of safety and security for a few hours, few days or as long as they need it.

Families sit in stunned silence in an impromptu reception area where church volunteers tell the refugees the church has free food, drinks, showers, and places to sleep. The congregation even has a set-up children’s area where they can play with bubbles or watch educational videos projected on a screen.

“What we’re seeing is a movement of love and generosity across this nation. Poles are opening their doors and arms to Ukrainians. They are taking them into their churches. They are taking them into their homes. They are feeding them. They are caring for them,” said Marek Glodek, president of the Baptist Union of Poland.

“This is what Jesus calls His believers to do all the time. Polish Christians are taking the teachings of Jesus seriously and living them out each day during this situation.”

More than 60% of the 110 Poland Baptist churches are responding to the needs of Ukrainian refugees, many of them in dramatic and radical ways.

At a warehouse in Chelm, donations for Ukrainians are coming in as fast as they are going out to Ukraine and to shelters across Poland. The deliveries continue even after Russia intensifies attacks on the western portion of Ukraine.

In north Poland, church members installed new insulation, air conditioning, heating, electrical lines and beds in an old summer camp to revitalize it to house refugees.

Near the Belarus border, a church is providing shelter for about 50 people and sending supplies into Ukraine despite increased Russian aggression. 

“More than 1.5 million Ukrainians have sought safety in Poland,” said Mickey Lenamon, TBM executive director and CEO. “Baptists worldwide have joined together to meet their needs. TBM is honored to be part of that, whether it is through funding, sorting and loading donations in-country, setting up beds, or even doing the little things that are needed like cleaning floors and toilets. We see what believers throughout the region are doing and are seeking to do likewise: follow Christ daily and share His love.”

CHURCH AS GOD INTENDED

As narrated in the Book of Acts, the New Testament Church is both a prescriptive and descriptive account that illustrates a pattern for contemporary congregations.

The following are 7 essentials the contemporary church must embrace for missional movement.

Acts 1 shows how 120 disciples of Jesus spent 10 days together in prayer, comparing Scripture and making leadership decisions. This ensured that the foundation of the burgeoning movement would be secure. Their goal was to work towards oneness as it related to the understanding and preaching of the Good News of the Messiah.

Without this period of waiting upon God and reflection, the massive spontaneous addition of 3,000 people after Peter’s first sermon could have resulted in chaos and destroyed the movement. The contemporary Church must take adequate time every season to wait upon God in prayer and biblical reflection in order to be ready for the Gospel’s movement.

Acts 2:42 says that immediately after the Day of Pentecost, the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ doctrine, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. Visitors to Jerusalem that converted, abandoned plans to go back to their homeland so they could sit under the apostles’ teaching.

This apostolic doctrine shaped their social gatherings, common meals, and corporate prayer. Without this, the activities of the Church would have been based upon subjective experiences and opinions of gatherers. The contemporary Church must also establish believers in the first principles of the faith if they are going to experience a prolific Gospel movement.

Acts 5:1-12 relay the narrative of the judgment upon Ananias and Saphira.

This illustrates how the standard of holiness and the fear of the Lord must be maintained to ensure the health of the Church. If God allowed them to continue lying, manipulating, and receiving honor deceptively through giving gifts (which amounts to dirty politics), it would have spread like yeast and eventually would have corrupted the Church.

It is not an accident that God began to do extraordinary miracles as soon as this couple was removed from the Church (Acts 5:12-14). The contemporary Church must understand that we limit the capacity for God to move through us whenever we allow unbiblical standards to permeate our Church.

Acts 6:1-7 Almost immediately after the birth of the Jesus movement, ethnic sectarianism and bias reared their ugly head. This took place when the Greek-speaking widows were being overlooked when food was being distributed. Peter had enough wisdom to appoint 7 men of integrity and wisdom who would oversee this ministry, resulting in every widow’s needs being met, the Word of God spreading, and the number of disciples multiplying.

Acts 7:54-60 The martyrdom of Stephen, demonstrates an amazing pattern for us to follow in the contemporary church. God cannot bless a Gospel movement if the saints are unwilling to give their lives to advance His kingdom. Even Paul said that he was always given over to death so that the life of Christ might manifest through him (2 Corinthians 4:11). A contemporary church filled with people who only gather to have their felt needs met will never advance the Gospel. Jesus said we would have power after the Spirit comes upon us to be His witnesses. The word witness comes from the word martyr. Hence, a faithful witness overcomes the enemy when he is not willing to shrink from death (Revelations 12:11).

Acts 7:58, 8:8 The early Church did not skip a beat but continued to thrive after mass persecution broke out against them. Even though they were forced out of their homes and lost everything, their mind was on spreading the Gospel! Wherever they were scattered, they preached the Word. This resulted in major churches being planted in the cities of Samaria and Antioch and resulted in their chief antagonist, Saul, being converted and becoming the greatest of the apostles. The contemporary Church must persevere amid persecution (similar to the powerful Gospel movement we see today through the persecuted churches in Iran, China, and India).

Acts 13:1-2 Instead of being bogged down with endless church committees and deliberations, the Antioch church elders spent adequate time ministering to the Lord and fasting. Giving God space to move upon them, released a divine strategy that changed the entire world. The contemporary Church must also prioritize seeking the Lord and waiting for the strategic Spirit to illuminate our hearts so we can labor for the things God ordains instead of asking God to bless our agendas.

Adapted from article ”8 lessons churches can learn from the book of Acts” by Joseph Mattera, Christian Post Feb. 20

MEGACHURCH EXPOSED

The explosive three-part docu-series, Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed, will premiere on Thursday, March 24 on discovery+, the definitive non-fiction, real-life subscription streaming service, with all three episodes available on that date. Featuring interviews with Hillsong insiders, megachurch experts and Ranin Karim, the woman whose five-month affair with celebrity senior pastor Carl Lentz led to his downfall, the series will explore the high-profile, star-studded church’s alleged exploitation, abuse and cover-ups.

Is this church as it is described in the Book of Acts? I am sure it is not, just as the institutional church model is not God’s model for His church.

KENYA HOUSE CHURCH MISSION TRIP

We are progressing well with our discipleship ministry in Kehancha in Kuria but it is very hard here. The region is very dry with no green vegetation, and there is a scarcity of water and food. Our people are walking 3kms to fetch water from a borehole for drinking and cooking. It has been hard work for our evangelism team to reach farmers in the field and minister to them. Some of the people here testified that they have never heard about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Previewing temp_image_20220117_180900_4c8678f3-19f3-4e20-bb17-18d02bd4ee95.jpg
KHC mission trip to Kehancha in Kuria region, Tent ministry – pastor Julius ministering the gospel message Jan 17th, 2022

We held tent discipleship and outdoor evangelism meetings. In every place, and at every point, we ministered, we were able to feel the  Holy spirit’s presence touching and convicting the hearts of many people to repentance with many people coming to believe in Jesus Christ. And as a result, many gave powerful testimonies.

Previewing temp_image_20220115_113334_b8274173-62af-4f3e-862d-a82c4c09637a.jpg

You can see pastor Jacob gathering with some of these families under one of the few trees left standing and sharing with them the gospel message. There is abject poverty, no chairs to sit on, people are standing some sat on stones and wooden logs. Keep us in your prayers. Thankfully your financial help was received.

We ministered the gospel message in various homes, to the pastoralists out in the field, even to the school children, and also to the business people in the marketplace. Unlike our past mission trips, this time we conducted a women’s ministry, and this was as a result of a large number of women present in our meetings.

A hairstylist, Mrs. Rhoda Opiyo testified she lost her job three weeks before we stepped into that region. The reason given was that she was talking too much about Christ, evidence of Christians being persecuted for their belief in Christ Jesus.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-3.png

Sadly, none of these twelve members have Bibles. We had funds to buy one Bible for the leader of the women’s group.

We hope to raise funds for more Bibles and would appreciate your help in this regard.

If you would like to help me support the Kenya House Church Movement you can do so on the Home Page by clicking the Donations button. I do not ask for funds to support my ministry but feel called to support the growth of House Churches in countries that can do with help.

temp_image_20220116_104416_8e79350f-712b-4969-ba33-5a91cc1b3b9c.jpg
Previewing temp_image_20220116_103859_e206997d-b833-4e32-9b32-14fd4970387a.jpg

ARE YOU SURE YOU ARE REALLY HAVING CHURCH?

This post is taken from a great article by Shane Idleman: The great shrinking church in America.

It’s clear that many churches have closed or have considerably shrunk in size since COVID-19. Reasons range from “church-goers are still scared to return,” to “they prefer watching live feeds.” But why have bold churches experienced tremendous growth? This issue is much deeper — it’s crystal clear that people are hungry for the truth. 

As a church in California located in Los Angeles County, I understand the enormous challenges of pastoring in these dire times. But, if the truth is told, the COVID crisis simply revealed the foundation of many churches, as well as the heart of many pastors. But thank God, there is hope! 

Pastors, I’m writing this to you to encourage you to be bold as you lead your congregation through these difficult and challenging times. But this boldness won’t come naturally, it will come supernaturally. It will have a cost:

“Life-giving preaching costs the preacher much — death to self, crucifixion to the world, and the travail of his own soul. Crucified preaching only can give life. Crucified preaching can come only from a crucified man” (E.M. Bounds).

The fire of the Spirit is contagious 

On October 25, 2021, we began having church every night at 6 pm for two straight weeks. At times, the atmosphere was overwhelming — a full altar, dozens of baptisms, the demonic realm being crushed and countless lives changed, both in person and through Livestream. As the old-timers used to say, “God heard our cries and showed up!” The key verse for us was Isaiah 64:1, “Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence.” (You can view the services here.)

Speaking boldly is no longer optional, it’s essential. That’s the missing ingredient today. God is no respecter of persons, status, or achievement, but He is a respecter of principles (Acts 10:34). If you seek Him with all your heart you will find Him. Then you will be better equipped to lead your congregation to the Fountain of Living Water once you yourself have drunk deeply. The fire of the Spirit is contagious.

This doesn’t mean that your church will grow; it could shrink, but it does mean that you’ll now have the power of the Spirit resting upon your life. Churches filled with the Spirit do the works of the Spirit. Jesus said that “whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12 NIV).

If your church doesn’t look like the New Testament church, are you sure that you’re truly “having church”?

Dead is for a graveyard, not a church

The Christian life is to be living and vibrant, not dry and dead. It begs the question: “Where are the rivers of living water that Jesus spoke about in John 7:38?” When it comes to experiencing a spiritual awakening (revival), it can’t be worked up, it must be brought down from heaven. 

In Lev. 9:23-24, the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people and the fire came down and consumed the burnt offering. God brought down the fire, but the responsibility fell on the leaders to keep the fire burning. They were to remove the waste but not the fuel. The same holds true for you and me. We must remove the waste of pride and add the fuel of humility.

Ignite your church with prayer meetings and worship nights. Humble yourself and lead the way and find comfort on the altar as you cry out to God for boldness. The two-week event described above was over a decade in the making as we persisted in seeking the heart of God. He truly is a “rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). When God chooses to give us a measure of revival in our bondage, worship, humility, and obedience, He will keep the flame going. 

The beauty of brokenness 

The beauty of brokenness is that humility crushes pride and ushers in the presence of God. Moses spent years on the backside of the desert as God broke and prepared him. Joshua’s humility no doubt came from lingering in the presence of the Lord. Isaiah was completely broken when he cried, “Woe to me! … I am ruined! …. My eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty” (Isaiah 6:5). Jeremiah collapsed and cried out for humility in the people, “My soul will weep in secret for your pride” (Jeremiah 13:17).

The Psalms are saturated with the brokenness of David, and Jesus’ disciples had to be crushed like olives so the anointing oil could flow. Paul had to be knocked to the ground and his eyes blinded by the glory of God before true humility became a mark of his ministry.  

Do you sound like a voice “crying in the wilderness” because you’ve been touched by God, or a voice whining in the wilderness because you’re dying spiritually? You can change that today. 

We provide the sacrifice, He provides the fire

When you lose intimacy with God, you lose boldness and the Spirit’s fire. Return to Him, and He will return to you (Zechariah 1:3). The strength of your church is in its purity and spiritual power, not in its numbers. God doesn’t need a majority — He is the Majority. We are not CEOs running a business, we are watchmen warning a nation. Prayer can no longer be a footnote at the end of a sermon; instead, prayer and worship must guide the church in these critical times.

How can you receive a measure of revival in these dire times if there is no desperation? God can’t pour into your heart if it’s already full of self: Self-willed. Self-sufficient. Self-made. Self must die in you before God can really live within you. 

The greatest hindrance to revival is within your own heart. It’s time to break up your fallow ground and seek the Lord while He still may be found (cf. Hosea 10:12). Again, although we can’t work revival up, God can bring it down from heaven if we prepare the soil of our hearts. We provide the sacrifice — He provides the fire.

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. Shane’s sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at shaneidleman.com or wcfav.org

My followers know that I believe the church in the end times will be the church as described in the Book of Acts. I promote the church model as modeled by Francis Chan which is House Churches, no paid pastors, and no buildings. Nevertheless, I thought the truths expressed by Pastor Shane Idelman are worth a post.

MAKING DISCIPLES IS THE MANDATE – CHURCH PLANTING IS THE OUTCOME

Where in the Bible are we commanded to plant churches? The simple and obvious response is, “it is not commanded.” Planting churches flows naturally out of making disciples. The heart of the church’s mission is to make disciples who make disciples.

In the New Testament, a disciple is more than someone who grows in their theological knowledge of God. A disciple fellowships with other believers, worships in a community, and prays like those assembled in a house in Acts 4.

And now, Lord, look upon their (the Worlds) threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.Acts 4:29-31

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, a disciple then boldly declares the word of God such that more and more people become followers of Jesus.

Missionaries have historically been the most vital source of a nation’s social development. These findings yield two important conclusions about the work of Protestant missionaries. Their message was good for the world and their focus was making disciples.

This understanding of a disciple is highlighted throughout the New Testament. Through a study of the early movement in Ephesus, we see at least thirteen characteristics common to them all.

  • Disciples are respectful of people and culture when they engage in God’s mission (Acts 19:7, 37).
  • Disciples surrender to God’s will and maintain the work of their first love in a theocentrically focused missiological theology (Eph 1; Eph 5:18-19; Rev 2:4).
  • Disciples declare the mystery of Christ to the nations (Eph 3:4-10, 1 Tim 2:1-4).
  • Disciples are equipped by movement leaders for ministry (Eph 4:12; 1 Timothy).
  • Disciples exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (Eph 4-5).
  • Disciples are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses (Eph 5:18-19, 2 Tim 1:7).
  • Disciples are godly fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, employees and employers (Eph 5:22-6:9).
  • Disciples pray for opportunities to share the gospel because they know God is most glorified when more people are worshipping him (Eph 6:18-20, 1 Tim 2:1-4).
  • Disciples stand up for the marginalized (1 Tim 2:8-15, 5:3-16; Rev 2:6).
  • Disciples learn sound doctrine from movement leaders who can teach (1 Tim 4:7).
  • Disciples are willing to suffer for the sake of the gospel (2 Tim 1:8).
  • Disciples are committed to multiplying more disciples (2 Tim 2:2).
  • Disciples defend the faith against false teaching (Rev 2:2).

Extracts from an article “Is Church Planting a Biblical Mandate?” October 28, 2020, by Jackson Wu

WHAT’S WRONG WITH CHURCH

A major issue afflicting the Church is the “clergy-laity mentality.” It is a pervasive mindset where the paid clergy leads the church and they are called “pastors.” They do most of the ministry work and laypeople serve the ministry of that pastor.

The Apostle Paul writes that the Church, the household of God, is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.” Ephesians 2:20

Paul continues that the Lord gave fivefold offices for the edification of the Church, specifically

apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-12

All five of these gifts are needed and on a broad-based level, you need the apostles and prophets working together, hearing from God together. To use military terminology: apostles [are] the generals. The prophets being the seers, they’re the ones getting the intel [from God],

For a local church, there needs to be impartation from all those gifts, equipping from all those offices to equip people to minister to those who are not part of the Church, not just to minister to each other. The apostles are the builders, the church-planters, those who are trainers and equippers. And the prophetic is to come alongside them to help guide and speak to that — what is the Lord saying right now in the present. All five offices are needed to work together so that the Church can hear the full counsel of God.

 

Episcopal church ordains lesbian Bishop

Unfortunately, the institutional church came up with the model of training one man, then one man or woman and now transgender as well to be the pastor/leader of the church. This model is not Biblical and is in fact the apostate church Jesus (Matthew 24:12) and Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 ) spoke of as one of the “end times” signs. It has no understanding of the fivefold gifts working together to see each and every believer functioning and bringing the Kingdom into their workplace, in the marketplace, into their school, then a greater expression of Jesus is manifested in society. What is needed is small-a apostles?

Larry Kreider of DOVE International — an interdenominational global family of churches and ministries on six continents believes that an apostolically inclined small-a apostle is motivated by and is thinking on a macro, big-picture level, and wants to see the Kingdom of God extend across their city, state, region, nation and world. As with any other spiritual gift and vocations, this gifting is to be called out and affirmed by others in the Body of Christ. To function in these gifts, one needs to see the gifting’s in others, It’s not just someone who prophesies or carries a prophetic gift, but someone who trains up and pours into others so they can mature spiritually. 

This is truly the church as described in the Book of Acts and will be the church that overcomes during the tribulation in the last days before Jesus returns “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The victor will never be harmed by the second death.Revelation 2:10-11