We are often asked if Welton Academy has a network that can be joined. By reading the information below, you will get a full understanding of our answer to the question. It’s a long answer, but it’s an important question.
We live in a day when the Spirit is bringing clarity and a resurgence of Biblical Christianity, not just pop culture Christianity. One of the many things that the Spirit has been focused on is bringing a chiropractic adjustment to the Body of Christ. This is actually what the word “equip” means in Ephesians 4:12, to set in place, as in the setting of a bone. We see in Ephesians 4 that the gifts from the Son (Five-Fold: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, Teachers) are those chiropractors that the Lord uses.
This week, I wanted to share about an adjustment I believe the Lord is making in the Church: The resurgence of recognizing the Five-Fold ministries and callings on individual’s lives. Although I see that we are at the beginning of this movement and for many of my readers, this may not be on your radar yet, it is on the agenda of the Lord and this resurgence is under way. I have put my thoughts down in a Question and Answer format to answer some of the Frequently Asked Questions. Enjoy!
Q: Why use the title Apostle?
A: The early church seemed to have no problem with the idea of identifying people correctly by their anointing and calling. For example, Paul starts 9 of his 13 letters with the first verse saying, “Paul, an Apostle…” Peter does the same with both his letters.
Confusion regarding the use biblical titles and terminology has caused two main problems. While there have been many leaders that have misused the title for various reasons (Ego, control, etc.), the rest of the leadership in the Body of Christ ends up with the broad term of “Pastor.” Pastor is a title that is used once in the English translation of the Bible (Eph. 4:11), a title that has no explanation, and no named New Testament example. This has led to many Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists and Teachers being underdeveloped, unrecognized, overlooked, unacknowledged and dishonored. The importance is because what we honor on someone’s life is what we draw from them (Matthew 10:41). This means that the Body of Christ ends up lacking four of the five graces (Eph. 4:11) because we are only acknowledging and honoring “pastors.”
Q: Why do we need apostles?
A: Not everyone needs an apostle. Apostles are the highest authority in the church (1 Cor. 12:28), which means they have the highest calling to foot-washing in the Body of Christ (John 13). What this typically means is that apostles will stand behind and raise up Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers in the Body of Christ.
Q: There have been a lot of people that claim to be apostles in the church today, what is your take on this?
A: I believe that God is raising up and revealing genuine apostles, while at the same time there are many that have thought that the title would give them a greater sense of power. Basically, I don’t acknowledge “apostles” that are not washing the feet of the leaders in the Body of Christ.
It is important to understand that there have always been “false apostles” (Rev. 2:2) and those that have grabbed a title to give themselves a sense of superiority (2 Cor. 11:5).
What typically happens nowadays is that after decades of pastoral ministry, many senior pastors retire from their church and try to go on the road as an itinerate apostle or they stay a part of their former church and keep control of the new pastor by taking on the title of “Apostle overseer or Apostolic leader.” This has caused a lot of confusion regarding the function of actual apostles. Apostle is not something that you “graduate into” after so many years as a pastor.
Q: So what are Apostles and what do they do?
A: As I started to clarify in the first question, they are foot-washers and the highest authority in the church.
They clarify, confirm and announce the callings and anointings on the lives of newer Apostles as well as Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. They set the leadership of the Body of Christ into proper structure and order. For example Timothy and Titus were both younger Apostles and Paul was a senior Apostle that guided and affirmed them.
The function of the Apostle is summed up well in the idea of a father. A father guides, instructs, affirms, provides, and backs you up. A good father DOES NOT control, manipulate, lord his authority over you, claim that you are his kid when it makes him look good – but then doesn’t answer your calls when you reach out to him. Many modern “apostles” are more like the bad father. This has cast a terrible light upon the idea of apostleship.
Yet on the other side, apostles are not personal prayer partners and private Bible study mentors. Many people have expressed the idea of their orphan mentality with the hope that an Apostle will come along and be their private mentor and constant coach. Apostles are for the leaders of the church, not typically for those not walking in a five-fold calling.
Q: How does an Apostle help the other five-fold ministries?
A: Apostles see the big picture from the highest vantage point. We see this in the early church in the Book of Acts. When the Gentiles had started to get saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, the Apostle James led a council in Jerusalem. It was here that the Apostles Paul and Peter came and weighed in regarding Gentile salvation. Between James, Paul, and Peter, the early church was able to grasp the larger picture of what God was doing in the earth. This is uniquely Apostolic.
Prophets can declare the future; give courage and comfort, yet many times they only see through a narrow lens the Lord has given them. They need Apostles to help them see the larger picture and how their prophetic insight works into the larger scheme of what the Lord is doing.
Evangelists are focused on the saving of souls, yet they need the balance of the Apostolic to help them see that churches need to be properly set up and functioning so that the new converts have a place they fit and can grow.
Pastors shepherd the hearts of people, yet they need the Apostle to provoke them to build their people into advancers of the kingdom (1 Tim 1:4). Apostles stretch and challenge in a way that keeps all the healthy sheep from settling into a comfort zone.
Teachers build structures of sound thinking; yet they need the Apostles to keep them balanced in going after the supernatural. Apostles stretch Teachers and keep them from settling for a good theory; Apostles push Teachers to become a living manifestation of their good teaching (1 Tim 4:13-14).
These are some of the practical ways that through relationship, an Apostle can “wash the feet” of the other Five-Fold gifts. It is also why the Apostle is first (1 Cor. 12:28), because they are pulling up other leaders to see from their vantage point.
Q: Are modern apostles on the same level as the original 12 apostles?
A: The primary difference is that no modern apostle is writing scripture. If anyone claims that they are writing new scriptures, run! But not all of the original apostles even wrote scripture, so it never was a requirement.
To truly answer this question, we should look at the New Testament and see if there were any apostles other than the original 12 and if they were seen as lesser than the original twelve. A complete listing of New Testament apostles follows:
- Matthias, the replacement for Judas - Acts 1:23-26
- James, the half brother of Jesus and leader of the Jerusalem church—Galatians 1:19
- Barnabas–Acts 14:14
- Paul–Acts 14:14 and many other references
- Apollos– Corinthians 4:6-9
- Timothy and Silvanus– I Thessalonians 1:1 and 2:6
- Andronicus and Junia -outstanding among the apostles. Romans 16:7
- Epaphroditus–Philippians 2:25. While the King James Version translates the word as “messenger”, the Greek word (apostolon) is actually “apostle”.
- Two unnamed apostles–Second Corinthians 8:23. A brother of fame among the churches, and a brother tested–“As for our brethren, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ.” Again, the Greek word is “apostoloi” but is translated here as “messengers”.
(12 Original Apostles + 12 more named in the New Testament = 24)
An investigation of the New Testament doubles the number of those who are explicitly referred to as apostles. Yet at no point are these extra twelve referred to or treated as “lesser” than the original twelve. In fact, it was one of the original twelve that got Jesus crucified and one of the extra twelve (Paul) that wrote 1/3 of the New Testament. It is only the modern mind that sees current apostles as “lesser” than original apostles. The function is the same, the anointing is the same, and the calling is the same (minus writing scripture).
Q: Jonathan, as an Apostle, what does your role in the Body of Christ look?
- To be a living revelation of the Father to the Body of Christ (Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers, each reveal other aspects of who God is).
- To raise up and launch new Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers into their equipping ministries.
- To provide for, to protect, and to serve the five-fold ministers that have been raised up and launched.
- To encourage, share wisdom with, and carry revelation together with those that have been launched.
Q: What have you experienced with “Apostolic networks?”
A: I have participated in four and they have been vastly different.
- I have attended the International Coalition of Apostles (ICA) founded by Dr. C. Peter Wagner. This is an incredibly unique experience. There are about 500 leaders in the room and all of them are known apostles with their own sphere of influence. To sit at a table where one guy has 10,000 churches that he oversees, a lady who has planted 100 Bible colleges, another that has an online school with 50,000 students, it is mind-boggling. This was not a relational model, and not everyone there has the foot-washing approach, but overall, this is an apostle-peer group gathering.
- There is an annual gathering of young itinerates and pastors that my wife and I attend. This is entirely relational and all titles are left at the door. It is a wonderful time of refreshing.
- Then there is a classic Apostolic Network that I am a part of. It offers ordination, and it headed by a true Apostle-Evangelist, a humble man, a foot-washer. Titles are used moderately in this circle. Many of those in this network are typically longing for a more relational approach.
- Then there is the fourth Apostolic Network, which I am personally on the board for, The River Fellowship. This one is very relational, without any formal use of titles. This is the most attractive of the four. It is a network of ministries that have come together under a spiritual father and mother (Rich and Lindy Oliver) which are tremendous examples of foot-washing leaders. If you are in ministry and are looking for your tribe, your family, a place to call home; allow me to introduce you to The River Fellowship. With over 450 Ordained and Licensed ministries (and credentialing new ministries all the time), every member has relational access to the Oliver’s and they are here to support and encourage you as you build the kingdom. The Welton Academy is in full partnership with the River and we would encourage you to be too.