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Simple Church Training: Apostles

By Nate Smith

October’s Simple Church leadership meeting was a discussion on the Ephesians 4:11-12 passage.  The conversation revolved around the apostle’s characteristics led by Chris Phebus.  Here are some notes that were gathered from Wednesday night:

Apostle:  Someone who is sent

Why is there a rejection of those who are called to be apostles?  This is due to the argument that this gift along with other gifts died out with the first century church.  However, it may be due to today’s church making excuses for not going out.

How did Paul function as an apostle?  This part of the discussion was done in groups of two or three and then talked about in the large group setting.  Here are some characteristics:

  • Sent to a specific group – Paul to the Gentiles
  • Traveled to areas and revisited/communicated with those persons later
  • Prayed/Listening to God – especially when to go/stay/leave
  • Tentmaker – Provided for himself at times
  • Humility – No credit for what happened
  • Mentorship – Done with Timothy
  • Vision of spreading the Gospel was on the forefront of his mind
  • Ability to translate the message to the culture:  Contextualization
  • Boldness
  • Servant – In all of Paul’s letters he referred himself as a servant of Christ
  • Established Church doctrine
  • His life was an example to others

What are the steps that some apostles follow?  These are not definitive, but seem to be the journey that a lot of apostles take.  First and foremost the apostle continues to follow Christ’s lead.

  1. To be called and sent (Separate oneself from a Church setting & immersing themselves in other areas)
  2. Evangelizing the lost
  3. Establishing new believers
  4. Launching the Church (Creating fellowship & identifying local leadership)
  5. Oversight

It is interesting how in Ephesians 2:20-21, there are two types of people that are talked about when building the church:

You are like a building with the apostles and prophets as the foundation and with Christ as the most important stone.  Christ is the one who holds the building together and makes it grow into a holy temple for the Lord.

Yes, the apostles and prophets may the visionaries who move out into the world to speak to people, but Christ is always the one who holds it together.  He is the cornerstone in which the Church is built on.  If anything else is built upon it and a disaster strikes, the whole community would crumble.

How does someone encourage an apostle?  It is highly important to give the apostle freedom to transition and move as the Spirit leads.  The church needs to support them as they leave without placing guilt on wanting them to stay.  This verbal and continuous encouragement will give the apostle momentum to use their natural and God-given skills to move other areas.

How does someone hinder an apostle?  We actually did not have time to discuss this in great length.  There was a small discussion of moving away from the expectation that an apostle must have a type “A” personality to have this gift.  This is not true at all.  Also, someone can hinder an apostle from a vision they hold by pushing them into “reality” checks.  A “reality” check may be trying to make an apostle to think logically about how reaching out to people or their vision is too big.  The biggest dreams that can be accomplished will never be through marking a definitive path.  Yes, there will be thought process in how to get things done.  But the Holy Spirit will always lead and do the impossible.  ”Our” reality only sets limitations.

A gentle reminder:  There is a difference from being an “apostle” and “apostolic”.  An “apostle” is one who is called by God.  This is seen with King David, who was called to be a King many years before he took the position.  Yet, each of us are called to be “apostolic.”  We are to be sent into our communities to tell others about the Gospel.  It will be more uncomfortable for some without this “gift.”  But it should not be an excuse not to go.


Chris closed us with the following example.  The light blue circle is our comfort zone, the green is a stretching zone and the red zone is our “freak out” zone.

A person is never meant to stay within their comfort zone.  We need to move out into our “stretch” zone.  It may be uncomfortable, but this is how we grow and really reach out to others.  Furthermore, the more times you allow yourself to be stretched your comfort zone will begin to increase and so does your stretching zone.  You are able to move further and further into areas that you were not able to before.

However, if a person moves from their comfort zone straight to their “freak out” zone.  A person will quickly move back to their comfort zone and their comfort zone will become smaller than before.

Why is the Church so comfortable with sending missionaries across the world instead of a different setting within the city?  Who are we reaching out to?  Are the churches we building, whether home or traditional churches, just a reflection of our comfort zones that we are unwilling to move out of?

(this was originally posted over at Nate’s blog:

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