You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Apostles’ category.

My sense is the story of Shaun King is just in it’s earliest chapters but already it’s worth telling. I first met him four years ago when he came to us to be assessed for church planting. His dream was to plant in inner city Atlanta where he grew up. The first thing that set him apart was that he had a powerful death to life testimony. Our assessment team unanimously recommended him but I think it’s fair to say we wondered if he was a right fit for our system. No doubt in our minds that he’d succeed but perhaps there was the thought that our system would stifle him. Months later, via his magic with social media and the grace of God, he became our largest launch to date, over 600 on his first Sunday at Courageous Church.

Those of us who played even a small part in that beemed with pride. His success gave him leaway to buck the system a bit… I remember he riled our feathers when he noted publicly our meetings were too white and the speakers on our platforms were all white. A few years after that smoke cleared I can report our meetings are less white.

Shaun is a social media specialist and he raised massive amount of money for Haiti and got thousands of tents sent there. In the earliest days he somehow directed search and rescue efforts via Twitter from his home in Atlanta – no kidding, U.S. relief ships were following his leads to hurting people, doctors in the US were being directed to specific people in specific places. Shaun appeared on many national news and morning shows. There is a similar story to tell about his work helping the Atlanta Flood Victims. Those of us who’ve been following him on Facebook and Twitter grew to look forward to his updates loving how he just said what needed to be said. Things like; “Note to Donors: Please do not donate your dirty draws & bras. I will have a scientist from GA Tech run a DNA scan & twitter your name.”

In March of this year he felt led to make a radical shift in his church. He announced in a few weeks he’d preach his last sermon at the church. It wasn’t because he was leaving the church. It was because he was changing his church and focusing on three causes instead of church just being about pulling off Sunday morning services.  I’ll repost his comments here because they are worth reading.

Currently, the overwhelming percentage of our time, energy, skills, budget, and creativity are spent preparing for Sunday morning services, getting people to our Sunday services, and getting them to volunteer for our Sunday morning services.  I love what we do on Sunday morning. I love preaching and it is one of my primary gifts.  I love our worship team, our breakfast, our volunteers.  Our church is growing.

However, 5 things have convinced me that this extreme emphasis on Sunday morning is not the will of God for our church.

1. Our city is falling apart in painful ways that break God’s heart.  Atlanta is now the nation’s hub for child sex trafficking.  We have one of the highest teen incarceration rates in the nation.  Our education system in Atlanta is beyond broken.  In the face of these things, the church continues to preach and sing, but kids keep getting sold to perverts for sex.

If James 1:27 is true and “Authentic faith in the eyes of God is caring for widows and orphans” then I declare that our church will have authentic faith and have hands and feet that address these issues.  Right now, our church, like most American churches, as Rick Warren said “Is one big mouth”.

2. As I read the Gospels and see Jesus, I am increasingly stumped how we determined sermons and songs are what makes us most like Him.   I am not saying we do away with them, but we preach and sing too much and serve and love in radical ways far too little.  The answer is not to add love on top of the sermons and songs, but to decrease the sermons and songs and increase the service and love to create a balance that looks like the life of Jesus.

3. This week I was able to meet with a personal hero of mine and he said something to me that was shocking.  One of the best preachers in the world, he leads one of the largest churches in the country.  He told me, “At this point in my life I have preached thousands of sermons and I am not even sure what they mean to God, but nothing makes me feel more alive and like I am nailing God’s will like caring for foster children.  I can point my finger in the Bible and say yes – this is what God wants.”

For me, I do not want to wait another twenty years to come to this conclusion.  I do not want to wait until our entire church is built around my sermons (as it is becoming) and then conclude that it may or may not be what most honors God.  I’d rather go for it now.

4. Anybody that ever heard the vision of Courageous Church before we launched in January of 2009, knows that our vision was to never become a Sunday morning machine, but this is what we have become and we do it well.  A real temptation exists to keep chugging along, do it like other churches do it, and try to forget the original vision of Courageous Church to take bold leaps of faith to bring about real change in peoples lives, in our city and in the world.

Most of our time is now spent thinking about the arrangement of chairs, the execution of payroll, the brightness of the lights, the printing of the announcements, the lyrics on the screens, the pitch from the mics, and in the midst of all of this – I confess that people have been hurt in the process.  We created a church to love God and love people and in the busy-ness of it all – people that we cared about were neglected and forgotten. I won’t do it this way another day.

5. I feel like this is what God wants for Courageous Church.

Rather than meet weekly on Sunday mornings, Shaun broke things down into three discipleship groups that met around three causes; child trafficking, education and caring for widows. The Cause Groups would meet twice a month, the entire church would re-gather once a month for a Festival.

In all my years of church planting and training church planters I have said a thousand times, we don’t build churches on or around a cause – we build a church on Jesus. For sure this is what Shaun was seeking to do. Even so, Shaun is spot on when it comes to pointing out (what I’ve been calling) the theotainment model of the mega-church today is probably not what Jesus wanted us to build. I’ve long maintained that the church is a community and that causes are the domain of the parachurch. Shaun makes me rethink that.

In case you are wondering, Shaun’s experiment didn’t work. He faced perhaps the roughest summer of his life as his church sought to transition into these uncharted waters. Last month Shaun announced that since the bulk of the families in the church wanted to return to the traditional model, he would transition himself out of leadership. Here’s part of what he had to say in his announcement:

I thank God that I am not stepping down in shame or scandal, but it is clear that God is calling Rai and I to take our family in a direction that is just significantly different than what most in the church are asking for.  Over the past 6 months I have taken Courageous Church down a difficult, counter-cultural road in an earnest attempt at building true disciples.  It’s been rough.  All but a few families are now yearning to go back to a traditional Sunday focused system and I am sure that I am not the person to lead you there.

Those of us who assess church planters know it’s often more insightful to talk to the guys wife if you want the real scoop. Here’s what Shaun’s wife Rai had to say about leaving Courageous Church. You’ll have a hard time finding anything more honest about being a pastors/church planters wife. My o my o my o my, it’s the perfect thing to read here on this last day of “Pastor Appreciation Month.” Made me wonder what my wife would write if someone asked her honest feelings about the state of the church.

The last couple months Shaun’s been writing about giving away everything he owns, 1000 books, his new ipad, his bed…. everything. This is the first time I’ve ever voiced this but I’ll say it here, every serious follower of Jesus would do well to walk away from everything they own at least once to follow Jesus. I’ve given away my retirement three times and gobs of other things and dollars and certainly there was a time when I had nothing that wouldn’t fit in my car, but never have I walked away from everything. I do believe these are days to live a wartime lifestyle – living only on what we need and giving the rest where it’s most needed.

Shaun wrote a fascinating article on when a leader loses his mojo. He likens himself to Obama in that regard – at the top of his game just a couple years ago, now a fog has set in and it’s better to pull over if you can’t see where you are going.

Don’t think for a moment Shaun now lacks vision. After living his entire life in inner city Atlanta, this week he drove his family to California where they will live for an undetermined period of time before he and a team move to Africa – the suffering in Somalia has gripped his heart. And he’s climbing the worlds seven great mountains of need. Check that out here TellTheMountainToMove. You can read his next steps here.

Advertisements

THE NEW APOSTOLIC REFORMATION
An Update
 
C. Peter Wagner, Ph.D.
 
            Surprisingly, the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) has recently become a topic of discussion in the political media. I noticed some mention of it in connection with Sarah Palin’s run for Vice-President, but I considered it relatively insignificant. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve posted here numerous times how brutal it was only 5-7 years ago to be an evangelical who uttered the notion that there are “apostles” today. Though there is just as much (or more) Scriptural justification to capitalize “Apostle” today as there is to capitalize “Pastor,” I’ve always been careful to use the term in the lower case so as to not exasperate the controversy.  However, people always seemed to miss that little detail.

Regarding my commentary on the “Pastoral Epistles” (Obtainable Destiny, Creation House, 2004), Dr. C. Peter Wagner mentioned me on page 78 of his book “Apostles Today” saying: “To my knowledge, the first biblical commentary that treats these epistles as apostolic rather than pastoral is Obtainable Destiny by Steve Hickey.”  While I thanked Peter for the plug, I also ducked.

But today I delight to see example after example of major evangelical church planting and mission organizations talking openly about apostolic work, apostolic teams, apostolic networks, the apostolic gifts, sending (aka apostolos), our apostolic mission, apostolic church planting.  This pic is from my recent copy of Mission Frontiers which some of you know is THE main (and strategic) evangelical missiological publication which comes from the U.S. Center for World Mission in Pasadena, CA.

You may have to squint, but the text at the bottom says: “Apostolos is a conference for apostolic young people who have already committed to expanding God’s Kingdom at the frontiers…

There is no more fitting, or Biblical, term for this frontline work of establishing kingdom outposts where there previously were none. We are all comfortable with the terms “home missionary” and “church planter” though you won’t find “missionary” or “church planter” in your concordance, or “theologian“! ((Ha! Got to love my friend Peter Wagner for his “Goodbye Theologians” article.))

The peaceable part of me wants to say let’s just do the work and stop straining gnats regarding what it’s called. However, I do think it’s critical frontline workers again recapture their identity/role/function with regard to their apostolic gifting. I’ve written elsewhere how three “apostles” entering a region must send icy chills up the spine of our fiery Adversary. I can’t imagine news of three new “pastors” in the area would be much of a threat or cause much trembling in the realms of darkness.

We are getting ready at the Hickey household to send our kids to Kansas City. I’m really wishing I could go – a few uninterrupted weeks in the prayer room would do me good – and, even after being away for 18 years, in a sense, it’s still home. Thomas went down last summer to STI (now called ATC… what’s with the fixation with acronyms at IHOP-KC?). ATC stands for Awakening Teen Camp but I still slip and call it STI (which, last summer, stood for Summer Teen Intensive). Now the kids correct me when I say STI… “Dad?! Hello?! STI stands for sexually transmitted infections and that’s why its ATC this year.” Anyhoo, his sister is going this summer as well for this annual two-week summer intensive for high school students. But the big thing we are gearing up for here is sending Caleb in 60 days to start a four year program in Apostolic Preaching under Allen Hood at FSM in KC. (See what I mean about the acronyms?)

Here is an 11 minute taste of Allen Hood preaching at the OneThing conference. You will see why I’m excited to get Caleb to FSM. And, for what its worth, this clip alone nullifies all the smack talk against IHOP-KC. This is indeed a strategic equipping center for the Kingdom of God. Any who’ve said they preach another gospel are simply bearing false witness (one of the Ten Commandments by the way). The evangelical seminaries I went to didn’t preach this message with this boldness.

Thanks to Zack Hensley for finding this on YouTube. The video is a bit odd as the images really don’t relate to the message but it’s better than audio only.

Leadership Journal is perhaps THE journal of journals for non-charismatic evangelical church leaders. It has its roots in Billy Graham and Christianity Today. It’s contributors are THE who’s who in the evangelical world – Willow Creek, Saddleback, etc. This was the camp that produced me, and then spit me back out when I started pointing out the Bible lists more apostles than just the Twelve.

You can imagine my delight to flip through my latest copy of Leadership Journal (Spring ’08 – it’s not online yet) to discover the issue has two feature articles saying what I’ve been saying for a dozen years (and what the New Testament has been saying for 2000 years.) Apostles exist today!!!

Really, this is nothing new. Ephesians 4:11-13 explicitly says apostles are vital to the church, and will continue to be, “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.”

For those who didn’t know there was any debate here, believe me, there is. In 2004, I wrote a book about these things (Obtainable Destiny, Creation House Press). At that time, the book was not welcome in evangelicalism. (The book is a commentary of sorts on 1, 2 Timothy and Titus which I decided to dub… the “Apostolic Epistles” instead of what we are all taught they were… “the Pastoral Epistles.”) My point was these guys were not sent out (apostolos) to be pastors and “hold people’s hands” for 30 years. They were apostles-in-training. My evangelical colleagues were okay calling me a church “planter” or a home “missionary”, but as I tried to point out, neither of those terms are found in the Bible. And to be clear, I wasn’t asking or interested to have a title attached to my name – it was about the recognition and release of the gift and its operation in the church.

I’ve come to believe the adversary doesn’t sweat much when 100 pastors is a state operate in their gifting. But the devil freaks out when 100 apostles are released in a region. Getting over our apprehensiveness with this gifting and its operation today will get us over a major hurdle in advancing the Kingdom of God in our regions.

My D. Min. studies, yes under my good friend Dr. C. Peter Wagner, led me to the conclusion that the closest thing to a church planter in the New Testament wasn’t a “pastor.” Pastors take care of sheep already in the fold. Evangelists win the lost but then they leave town. Only the apostle goes forth to establish lasting Kingdom outposts where they weren’t previously. Apostles are the pioneers, the church planters.

Suggesting such however, even just five years ago, you would have thought I was advocating we add a fourth person to the Trinity! I know there are wacko’s out there claiming to be apostles who are not. But even there, the fact that there are false apostles means there are real ones. In five more years, this will all be a non-issue and we can get on with the work of God and stop picking at each other. Here’s a quick summary of these two Leadership Journal articles:

ARTICLE #1 – Note the title/subtitle…THREE OVERLOOKED LEADERSHIP ROLES: We’re familiar with pastors and teachers, but todays world needs a leadership team that includes three biblical but forgotten functions. Here are some highlights…

If we take the five categories of church leadership from Ephesians 4:11, [we are] training leaders to be teachers and pastors for established congregations, but where [are] the evangelists, the prophets and the apostles to lead the mission of the gospel into the world… this divorce of apostles, prophets and evangelists from pastors and teachers has been disastrous for the local church and has damaged the cause of Christ and his mission.”

There is a great chart called the “Fantastic Five Diagram” which is old-school five-fold ministry stuff from the charismatic camp.

ARTICLE #2 – title/subtitle… APOSTLES TODAY? Rediscovering the gift that leaves churches and well-connected pastors in its wake. Apostles leave new churches in their wake!!! That’s it! I love the first sentence…

We all know about the apostles named Peter, Paul and John, but have you ever heard of Andronicus or Junia? Some are surprised to discover that the New Testament identifies more apostles than the twelve…

You get the idea. Evangelicals are just now discovering apostles do exist today. And, I’m thrilled! Maybe we can all work together again. And just maybe, the self-appointed, unaccountable heresy hunters will come under conviction and realize these verses are in the Bible after all.

All afternoon I’ve been watching TheCall/Orlando on GOD TV. On the stage right now are the seasoned leaders who for the last 30-40 years have led THE major Christian mission movements globally today – YWAM, Campus Crusade, Wycliffe, Teen Mania, etc., etc. These are the noble “sent ones” (apostolos) who have been leading movements to take the gospel to every corner of the earth. 163 denominational and organizational presidents, leaders and CEOs along with some 550 key Christian leaders and experts have convened in Orlando, Florida for the past four days. The sole purpose of the 4-day consultation is to plan, strategize and partner for the completion of the great commission. Check out Call2All for the website.

What’s happening right now on the stage is these key leaders are joining hearts with the leaders of the global prayer movements of the earth. We are seeing the marriage of end-time mission and end-time prayer. They’ve divided the world up into 4000 zones to concentrate on evangelism and church planting and are commissioning Lou Engle and Mike Bickle and other prayer leaders to raise up Houses of Prayer in each of these 4000 zones of the earth to undergird and go before this effort with 24/7 fasting and prayer. It’s Zinzendorf all over again!

Personally, I’m deeply deeply moved to see these two major end-time movements come together. Hearing these evangelical leaders bless the apostolic and prophetic prayer movement and use terms like “apostolic” chokes me up because some of us have been crucified for talking in these very misunderstood scriptural terms that they now use so freely on this stage. Is the era of animosity over calling apostolic work “apostolic” over? Has the era of prophetic missions dawned? Hell has got to be freaking out right now. The house of prayer is again the sending forth Kingdom representatives. Jack Hayford said it’s a prophetic moment in history. I wish I was there.

Steve Hickey's Facebook profile

a

Visitors to this Blog

Advertisements