5. The Church: An Apostolic Family
Two themes of Jesus are particularly important to me. The first is relationship. It was Jesus who taught us to pray ‘our Father’ and that means that we are family. Paul writing to the Ephesians goes further and describes God as the one from whom every family derives its name.
The healing of our relationships has been a wonderful emphasis in recent years and this is greatly assisting the assignment of being family, God’s family on earth.
Secondly that in the same way that Jesus was sent by the father he sends us. John 17:18: “ As the father sent me so I send you.”
These two themes combine in the quintessential John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he sent His only begotten son.” Jesus is the ‘sent son.’ That same ‘sent son’, said that he would build His church.
I believe that apostolic families should be the description of the church. We are family and we are sent (apostolic).
Apostolic Families is therefore an expression of those two things. I can think of no better description of the church than this.
The church should firstly be a place of belonging and equipping, but it mustn’t stop there, it has an assignment which is made possible by gathering, belonging, healing and then sending.
Some years ago I was trying to define and understand what was meant by an Apostolic Resource Centre. As I considered it I linked three aspects of the history of the church,
The family church
The relating to God church
The outreach church
The phrase which I developed was that the Apostolic Resource Centre should be: “ a place where people encounter God, become a part of a family and are trained and equipped to change their world.”
The church is to be a place of belonging, encountering, equipping, celebrating, and sending so that those who are a part of the bride of Christ have everything that they need to bring about change and transformation in their spheres of influence.
Encounters will cover a wide range which will include:
Salvation, the ultimate and most important encounter.
Healing, where we encounter His healing power.
Worship, where we experience His presence.
Intercession & Prayer, where we communicate with him and for the needs of our world.
Prophecy, where we encounter God, who knows our future.
Inner Healing, where we are healed of the wounds of relationship & enabled to enjoy relationship with those around us and our glorious triune God.
Belonging as family will include :
Shared origin & identity
Shared connection & value
Shared purpose & commitment
Shared future & dreams
Training and Equipping to change their world will include:
Empowering every believer to discover & change their world
Equipping in the supernatural
Making disciples of the Kingdom
Erasing the secular/sacred divide
Of course there is much more but this provides a basis on which every church can be built. I can honestly say that I have yet to meet a church leader who does not want this simple phrase to describe their church:
“A place where people encounter God, become a part of a family and are trained and equipped to change their world.”
Every leader will find their particular emphasis, and the organisation will vary accordingly. The encounters will look a little different, the evangelist will have an emphasis, as will the pastor or teacher, but if they have embraced the apostolic first, they will all find their place in the family.
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