To be apostolic means that we are in submission to the commission of Jesus. That includes the almost all embracing focus of the prayer which he taught us to pray: “on earth as it is in heaven.” And that we are to seek to do this as family, after all the prayer begins, “Our Father.”
That being the case, the challenge of maintaining the apostolic is to maintain the tension between the promises of heaven and the realities of earth and to pursue the unity of heaven’s family within the challenges of maintaining relationships on earth.
The challenge of maintaining what God has given us to do is not by any means new. One of the greatest challenges in the Old Testament was sustaining, maintaining and passing on the experiences of a generation to the next generation. We see the dramatic changes from one King to the next in the Old Testament and history since the cross has shown us that sustaining and maintaining the apostolic has continued to be a great challenge.
The author Philip Yancey suggests that when we remove the supernatural element from our faith that we elevate the natural to the same status.
In the process I suspect that we become content yet we are missing that which makes our faith a faith!
As I reflected on this I was very aware that the elements which make the apostolic so important are the very ones which must be sustained. There is a common organisational and generational pattern which is particularly evident in the church. That pattern starts with those who find the fresh move of God, the outpouring, the revival perhaps. It is often the case that the ability to pass this to the next generation is impaired, there is often a more management focus in the second generation which leads to the failure of passing the impetus to the 3rd generation who often have to go and discover it for themselves.
I teach the subject of divine tension along side of the gift of administration and I suggest that these two are vital in the journey of maintaining the apostolic emphasis of heaven on earth and changing the world around us.
Apostolic & prophetic tension must be kept alive, in others words even if we do not see what we believe, that we must not reduce our beliefs to what we see take place. The temptation to manage the last move of God and to reduce it to what can be seen is the great challenge. A move of God in whatever form that has been experienced will need to be stewarded but it needs to be done in the awareness of the power of God or we will be in danger of reducing a move of God to what man can do without God.
Equally important is the matter of sonship and fathering. We as a generation are in a great position regarding this as we have been able to focus, perhaps more than any before us on our identity as sons and daughters of King Jesus. And yet it is something which Moses 1000’s of years ago gave us the great example of. He who would not enter into the reward of his life journey blessed the people of Israel to go where he would not go. It was the act of a true son, who had become a great father. It is the same example which Jesus gave us. He and the disciples had seen what most of us have never seen and yet he blessed us to see and do greater works.
I want to suggest that these two sets of tensions are essential in maintaining the apostolic. The tension of bringing heaven to earth and the tension of blessing the next generation to go farther than we have gone.
If we add to this the pursuit of excellence as a lifestyle, knowing that excellence is a journey, not arriving at a point of perfection, but never settling for less than heaven has promised.
If we also add to this a fourth element of success planning rather than succession then the assignment of maintaining the apostolic begins to take shape.
Maintain the tension between what is in heaven and what we see on earth
Raise administrators who steward with the heart of sons and daughters
Bless the next generation to go further
Focus first on repeating the success of recent years rather than the focus on replacement of the leader who achieved it.