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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.

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Woe to you when men speak well of you. Jesus said that. Yet the temptation in ministry is to have people speak well of you – the more the better. The goal for some appears to be- become a superstar and not so much a servant. Charisma Magazine just ran a story called “The Celebrity Syndrome.” The article fits the hero theme well. It’s amazing that these major magazines are reading my blog and copying my themes. I must have “arrived.”

Leadership Journal recently blogged about the need for a “hero boycott” in the Body of Christ….

Why the big-name celebrity leaders are turning me off…. It’s no different today than it was in the first century, when Paul noted in his first letter to the Corinthians that the Christ-followers there were dividing themselves over who they followed. “I follow Paul,” said some, while others countered, “I follow Apollos.” Today it’s the same story, just a different millennium: “I am of Hybels.” “I am of Warren.” “I am of Maxwell.” “I am of Stanley.” “I am of Moore.” “I am of Groeschel.” “I am of McLaren.” “I am of Driscoll.”…

Those are all evangelical heroes. Should we add some names from the charismatic camp? Hayford, Jakes, Osteen, Meyer, Barnett, Hagee, Copeland, Bevere. How about Bentley, King, Pierce? How about the Christian music scene, even the worship music scene?

There was a hugely refreshing moment at OneThing last month when somebody on the platform said “turn the stage lights off, this isn’t about anybody up here.” The focus was the Lord. Contrast that with endless Christian conferences that pride themselves on having the Who’s Who of the latest move of God on the speakers list.

A number of years ago, like ten or so, a bunch of pastors in the city here met and we were talking about bringing in PromiseKeepers. It was nauseating to see the enthusiasm as different big names were tossed around. I’d been on the bandwagon to bring in Franklin Graham in ’97. Really nothing in our city changed. However, something in me changed after that – I thought, we need God to visit here, no one else. It was one of the things that turned me into a pray-er. Everyone else seemed in the way. Heaven-sent heroes get out of God’s way.

One of the things I admire about heaven-sent heroes is their hiddenness and their humility. Whatever happened to hiddenness and staying hidden in God? Today I nominate no name – unsung – nameless – faceless people who, day after day, spend themselves in pursuit of God and his Kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven.

When what to my wondering eyes did appear… a big honkin’ article on “Heroes” in my Leadership Journal that just came in the mail today. How ’bout that. Some good stuff too. Since 2000, church coach Chad Hall has been asking hundreds of church leaders he’s been coaching “Who are your heroes?”…

When it comes to naming one’s heroes, I’ve noticed a distinct pattern: the progress a leader makes in moving toward his goals is directly correlated with the degree of speed and certainty with which he can name his heroes. The pattern is most obvious in the negative: I’ve never coached a leader who is unable to name his hero and who also makes substantial progress toward real goals.

I really liked a chart called the Fantastic Four which illustrates the four types of heroes we all ought to have:

1. Familiar – Parent, mentor, teacher, coach, great-grandparent, etc.

2. Famous – historical (i.e. Churchill), successful (i.e. Bill Gates) or popular (i.e. Oprah) [I thought it too… Oprah??? He also listed Bono. Please. It’s a sign of the times)

3. Faith – Biblical figures, church history greats, mission pioneers

4. Fictional – movie or literary characters/folklore or legend (he lists William Wallace!?) (Again, I can’t restrain myself… William Wallace wasn’t a fictional figure.)

I like the four categories he calls the Fantastic Four. Who are some of your heroes and what qualities do you admire and seek to emulate?

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