[Conintuned from Part 1. Click here for Part 1] RECAP: “…Based on my observations in the United States as well as around the world‚ it seems that denominations are alive and well. It also seems that megachurches‚ and their various associations and related movements‚ which operate on corporate business principles‚ have established themselves as authorities mostly based on their sheer size or in a particular sphere‚ such as Hillsong for example in the area of music and worship.
What I also see is that we do not have many clearly defined apostles who are leading Antioch type bases where the fivefold #ministry is flourishing and actually doing what it was designed to do. A clear example of an Antioch type operation is Bethel Church in California or IHOP in Kansas‚ amongst others.
There are of course many local and regional #apostolic operations‚ but they are not often featured in Christian or secular publications. Therefore they don’t have a Christian “celebrity status” and few people know of them.
To sum things up‚ the new #apostolic reformation isn’t really heard about very much at this point. Neither are the churches who were part of that movement proudly touting the label.
Why is that?”
I argue (being the contrarian that I am)‚ that this new #reformation not only has not ended‚ it has only begun! But sadly the church world seems to have again been quick to throw away the baby with the bathwater (and dirty that water was‚ alright). However‚ many a good “babies” were born‚ too. It is for them that I care the most‚ and for them that I take the time to write posts like this… that likely very few will ever read.
However‚ I am 100% convinced that what the Holy Spirit began in the late 90s‚ i.e.( the restoration of the apostolos dimension‚ and the fullness of the five-fold ministry for the purpose of equipping and activating the saints (believers) to do the work of the Kingdom) is totally a legitimate movement of the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit movement cannot be contained or fully represented by one particular church‚ ministry‚ association; or any certain group of churches or associations.
Bethel in California might be a manifestation of the new apostolic reformation‚ whether they call it that or not. However the greatest impact of the kingdom of God on our world will not be achieved by Bethel alone. It will happen when thousands upon thousands of smaller and greater churches‚ groups‚ associations‚ and various other types of bodies begin to move in the apostolic dimension – and they May not even call it that or fully understand it.
So what does it mean to become part of this new apostolic reformation? Is it for the pastor to call himself (or herself) an apostle?
Not at all. The apostolic dimension has to do with a dimension of the Holy Spirit. It has to do with the government and the operations of the Body. The focus is with a Kingdom first (vs. church first) mindset. To use the automobile as a metaphor‚ it’s about making sure that the engine works well first‚ that you know where you are going and you have the plan to get the job done before being too concerned with things like if your car has leather seats or not. This new apostolic reformation is supposed to be about going back to the basic‚ main purpose and essence of Christianity‚ not getting caught up in marginal issues such as “styles” of doing church or catering to people’s tastes in order to get people’s support. It’s about pleasing God‚ not man. It’s about living and leading from a place of conviction and hearing from God‚ not based on consensus‚ voting‚ church politics‚ and man-pleasing.
The apostolic dimension places a demand on our way of thinking‚ operating‚ and relating to life‚ based on our position as believers in Christ. It’s about replacing defeatist thinking with the mindset of spiritual authority‚ regardless of how weak we might be in the natural. (“Let the weak say “I am strong!”). It’s modeled and acquired along the lines of the Paul-Timothy connection rather than an academic study about the apostolic.
Let’s discuss terms and titles for a bit since it seems to be such a big deal for some people‚ shall we?
I always thought this was some kind of a marginal issue and could have cared less about what language we end up using. However‚ in the late 90’s the use of the title ‘apostle’ became a feature of leaders‚ churches‚ and movements that moved away from the old ‘pastor’ dominated mindset of church governance and culture‚ and into the new so-called ‘wineskin’ of the apostolic. This created plenty of controversy and excitement. Fault lines of division‚ as well as the expectation of something new‚ were created.
Time went on and reality began to set in. It called for good practices and a well functioning process to carry the movement forward. Imposters began to multiply almost as fast as Ponzi schemes and get-rich-quick programs. I’m sad to report that even I personally got both burned and became the reason for close friends to get burned‚ as well. I also found out many others got burned and burned some of their friends. But I haven’t found to this day a single simple public statement addressing these matters. This damaged countless numbers of churches and numerous relationships within the movement. I would like to use this occasion to express once again how I grieve over the fact incompetence‚ immaturity (and with some people obviously greed)‚ became reason for people like me (and a number of other good guys)‚ to become sucked into these types of situations and for close friends and their families to suffer. Sadly‚ no apostolic #leadership strong enough to address these things in the public square was found and in fact‚ the lack of competence and integrity in this area might have been one of the reasons the movement lost its momentum. But this I couldn’t know‚ it’s only an assumption‚ albeit an informed one.
It seems to me that the lack of a unified leadership and a mechanism to bring the movement to a new developmental level of integrity… coupled with the harsh realities of the post-2008 economic recession‚ caused the movement to slow down and come to a stall.
The apostolic movement failed to quickly deliver enough dramatic results and struggled to produce tangible proof of the miraculous. Individual leaders and churches lost their appetite for this new reformation and began to look for more clearly defined “deliverables”.
The use of the term and the title of apostle became uninteresting for some‚ and a flat out a point of mockery for others.
This occurred because most people from the beginning looked at the apostolic reformation as another attempt of another group to reinvent the wheel using a new and bombastic language.
But what if the Holy Spirit truly initiated this process to reform Christianity? What if some early adopters did respond to this genuine Holy Spirit move; and got some things right and some things wrong? What if they were just impatient‚ or rationalized too much too quick to stir up excitement… not realizing the magnitude of the change that had begun‚ and the time it would take to transpire? What if there were indeed imposters‚ fakes‚ and frauds?
Does any of this invalidate what the Holy Spirit might have indeed begun? I would say‚ no!
Let me explain why. The restoration of the office and the ministry of the apostle‚ its impact on the fivefold ministry‚ and therefore on the body of Christ was something the Lord began to show me in the early 90s. I did not begin to move in that dimension as a result of accepting an invitation to join someone’s organization or its council.
I was in fact invited because I was already moving in that dimension‚ and had been for years.
The only benefit the movement provided was the affirmation of the things I had believed and operated in for years; and the ability to meet like-minded people.
I never used the logo or my position to knock on a single door or promote myself. I was asked by churches and ministries from around the world to come and help them in their efforts to shift their ministries from an old paradigm to the new apostolic paradigm. All because I had received something from God‚ a word‚ a revelation‚ and a dimension of the Spirit… and I was bold enough to declare it loud and clear.
Little did I understand how difficult this task was going to be. But i did begin to learn how much people love their traditions‚ love their church culture‚ and love their ways of doing things.
Some apostles driven by compassion for the old wineskins (or desire to control it‚ I’m not sure which)‚ became the champions of the idea that God loves the old wineskin and we should be careful because the old wineskin has the potential to be transformed. Some exceptions aside‚ I have to say that I am extremely doubtful this is the case and I don’t see history supporting such wishful thinking.
Using titles or not is of little interest to me personally. A title did not make me into anything and I truly feel sorry for people who need a title to have confidence in life‚ and in what they do! No one has served anything to me on a golden platter during my 25 years of ministry.
In fact‚ the last 25 years of ministry have been mostly challenges‚ persecutions‚ and resistance by the established religious system. This is what awakened in me the gift‚ the ministry‚ the mindset‚ and the mode of operation which empowered me to plant churches‚ speak to leadership‚ challenge existing structures‚ and defy (successfully if I might add) a whole national government. I am speaking of my native Bulgaria.
This took place during my early years (20’s and 30’s)‚ with hardly any outside support and at multiple times put my life and the life of my immediate family members at great risk!
No title can justify such radical commitment. Only people who have never done anything like this can philosophize looking at it from the outside. To me‚ as a doer‚ not a theoretician‚ I know I have been willing to sacrifice and put my life on the line (and my families lives)‚ for something real. For something I know is from God‚ and that I will be held accountable for by Him on Judgment Day!
To sum this up‚ I personally‚ like many other unknown soldiers of Christ‚ did not become part of a movement but was willing to put my life on the line… not to possess a religious title‚ not for money‚ and certainly not for some idealistic utopian idea.
I embraced the movement known as the new apostolic reformation because I saw the rise of this movement long before I had heard anyone speak about it. I saw it because God showed it to me. This is was what He was about to do in the earth‚ and this is what he marked me and my family for.
I am confident there are countless numbers of apostles and prophets scattered throughout the earth today who have seen the exact same thing. It’s a wave that no one can stop. It didn’t begin with anyone’s association‚ anyone’s book‚ or any conference – and it doesn’t end there!
Dr. Peter and Doris Wagner and the leaders of the ICA served as best as they knew how in their desire to give birth to this new reformation. But the truth is that this massive change was and is so much bigger than the International Coalition of Apostles… or anyone’s successes‚ mistakes‚ or errors‚ or excesses. It transcends denominational lines and church traditions just like every true and genuine Holy Spirit dimension that was restored on earth over the last 500 years of reformation.
Leaders‚ churches‚ networks‚ associations‚ and movements who assume that the new apostolic reformation began or ended with the brief 10-year surge of the ICA‚ are wrong! Very wrong!
The change has begun and there’s no going back. The true reformation of the church will continue to be spearheaded by true apostolic father figures who embody what was lost in history – fatherly love‚ spiritual militancy‚ and the ability to offer the patterns and the blueprints of Heaven that teach us how to build successfully in various contexts.
Whether the form is more conventional looking‚ Sunday-morning centric churches‚ or micro-churches‚ or a mix of those form-factors….this is of little importance. Whether some use titles or eliminate them completely is of little importance. This should be left to the judgment of the various leaders and their leadership.
We should be pragmatic and relatable to the outside world. In some cultural contexts‚ the use of the title ‘apostle’ makes a lot of sense and gets things done. And in other cultural contexts‚ the use of titles defeat the purpose. People should be smart and eliminate it if it takes away from the focus of the main things.
At the end of the day‚ every leader in each church or movement has a responsibility to understand its context and determine what’s relevant at any particular time.
What remains will be the eternal values we see in the Bible‚ God’s word‚ the restoration of Kingdom principles (not methods)‚ and most importantly – the fruit‚ the end result of what the apostle Paul calls “labor of love”.
Because if love for God and love for people is not the driving force behind a new apostolic reformation or any other move claiming to be of God… frankly‚ I could care less about it and I think you too dear reader would feel the same!
With this‚ I say “Yes and Amen!” to the ongoing apostolic reformation!
I bless any and all leaders and the churches God is raising up around the world who aren’t just looking at church “trends” and “stars” to follow but rather know how to discern the voice of Jesus‚ The Head of the true Body.
Let us not be discouraged‚ and let us not lose focus. What He has begun He is powerful enough to bring to completion!
Who wants to go back to a man-made‚ goofy‚ irrelevant‚ religious‚ performance based Christianity? If you have tasted the power which Heaven releases when He speaks‚ you don’t want to go back to man-pleasing‚ church-centric‚ country club type “Christianity”.
God has opened our eyes for future things to come and we won’t go back on Him. He makes us a part of birthing new Kingdom things and giving shape to the world of tomorrow. Who wants to go back to institutional or seeker-sensitive church culture when you can have the reality of Open Heaven‚ God speaking and God moving on the earth?
This current collision isn’t really about the old “ways of doing church” vs. the new “ways of doing church”. It’s about God ruling and reigning in us and through us… bringing change to this world ushering in untold millions into His Kingdom. It’s about God’s Spirit restoring the apostolos‚ the apostolic mission‚ and ministry as expressed by all the five grace gifts‚ activating the saints each in their mission and salting the earth with His presence‚ power‚ and love.