3. What is An apostolic culture
By now you will know that ‘apostolic’ is a mindset resulting from the influence of an apostle in your life. So to set an apostolic culture in place, you don’t have to be an Apostle – you just need to have one in your life. As we saw, Jesus is the first Apostle, so we can all start there. This means that we need to have an understanding of the aspects of Jesus that are distinctly apostolic, as opposed to teaching, pastoral, prophetic or evangelistic, although we need those too. Fundamentally, the apostle is a ‘sent one’. Jesus was sent from heaven to make earth like heaven, and He also sent us (John 17:18). So apostolic culture derives from the posture of being sent from one place to another and bringing the previous place’s way of doing things with us.
So what is an apostolic culture? It is bringing and carrying the culture of heaven. In the absence of finding the word ‘culture’ in the New Testament, I find Peter’s statement that we have become partakers of the divine nature a substantial substitute. (2 Peter 1:4) The divine nature: God’s ways of doing things. Culture can be described as ‘stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.’ We are heaven-based beings with a heavenly family and so it stands to reason that our stories should be pointing to heaven or originating from heaven. Jesus, the great story teller (parables) created culture by telling stories of the way heaven does things.
Culture is therefore ‘the way we do things around here’. It is the thoughts, traditions, beliefs and routines of a people group. Creating heavens culture must be intentional. Without intentionality there will still be culture will still be there but it will be developed from earth based beliefs and circumstances. In other words your family or organisation will have and create a culture all on its own. The goal is to create intentionally a culture which brings, contributes to, and creates heavens culture on earth. If you leave it alone it will most likely develop earth’s culture. Unwritten rules and beliefs will be created which the leader did not initiate and consequently uninvited behaviours will prevail.
It is important to pursue cultures which serve the apostolic vision unique to your life, work, ministry, or family and serve the season you are in. There will be a different emphasis required in different seasons for instance the start up phase, the building stage, the visioning stage and the increase stage.
An apostolic vision must be a sending vision, because that’s where it originates, being sent. There will in bringing heaven to earth and being sent be the creation of a family environment but all with the goal of influencing the earth.
It is essential to be aware that the primary cultures of an apostolic lifestyle or organisation will start in the unseen. They will be related to faith, the presence of God, supernatural interventions and hope. The goal of the apostolic is to create a heaven oriented culture in which all of the five-fold gifts and every believer can operate on earth with heavens perspective. The apostolic, for instance, will lift the pastoral gift up from being satisfied with relying on earths natural resources and solutions to seeking the pastoral interventions of heaven and the supernatural
Creating the culture will involve storytelling, especially stories which reinforce faith, healing, and experiencing the presence of God, which infuse hope into the environment. These stories or testimonies create a prophetic atmosphere – people hearing these stories have their faith activated and believe that they too can see and experience these stories in their own lives.
From stories and the sharing of the beliefs of the apostolic, behaviours are embraced. They are articulated, demonstrated and replicated. It is in this that ‘the way we do things around here’ emerges. Stories carry beliefs, beliefs encourage behaviour and repeated and replicated behaviour is the substance of culture.
Start simply. It is essential that you do not bombard your environment with too many cultural statements. They really are caught rather than taught and the identification of 3 – 5 key cultures for your environment will enable everyone to recognise them as they are talked about, demonstrated, celebrated and repeated.
You will not go far wrong with creating a culture of the goodness of God, the presence of God, hope & healing. Heaven is filled with the awareness of his goodness and the God of all hope is there where is no sickness.
Don’t be afraid of repeating yourself – in fact, you must. If you don’t have stories yourselves yet, borrow some and look for people and situations where you can celebrate heavens apostolic culture on earth. Your goal is for everyone to ‘get it’, carrying it into every aspect of your life, organisation, ministry, and family and from there, taking it out into every area of life.
This blog is part of a series.