What the Lord was trying to show me was that in the book of Acts there was a rich history describing the working of the spirit-filled church of the 1st century. Here are a few bullet points.
- The church was planted after the persecution of Stephen in Jerusalem. (Acts 11:19)
- The church was evangelistic having outreaches to the Greeks (Acts 11:20)
- It was overseen by the Apostle (Greek "sent one") Paul and Barnabas for about a year.
- Prophets from Jerusalem went there to minister. (Acts 11:27)
- The new church had apostolic, prophetic and teaching gifts. (Acts 13:1)
There is a lot more about the church at Antioch that one could glean just by reading Acts. It was a well known center with the ENTIRE 5-Fold ministry operating in it for about the first year. Apostles and prophets should move on once a local church has a pastor, good evangelism that fits the community and teaching.
I can't imagine that Antioch was "church as usual." The richness of teaching, miracle working apostles imparting gifts to the local body for the work of ministry and prophets hearing God for individual and corporate direction. How exciting to work together in relationship with other gifted folks, doing outreaches and growing in grace!
The difference between a formula and model is this. The formula is a patterned way of working, while a model is a principled way of working.
Having a church model allows the players to be diverse, yet uniquely individual while providing an invisible structure that God can use. For example, an apostle may stay for a year, but it certainly could be longer, or shorter. The same is true of prophets.
In the end, the local church must have pastoring, teaching and evangelism so that it will not become a Dead Sea. Every church needs an inflow of unbelievers that get saved, get discipled and then released into their destiny and ministry; some becoming leaders - reching outward.
The fruit of a healthy church is savlations leading to mature disciples. The problem sometimes is the lack of vision for various parts of body life when churches put a single holy-man in charge.
- Pastorally centered churches retain members for a long time because their needs are being met. They usually fail to bring unbelievers in to experience Christ, and become a Christian ghetto for others wounded by other churches.
- Prophetic centered churches provide lots of personal revelation, which is very encouraging and exciting, but little in the way of grace and fellowship.
- Apostolic centered churches breed miraculous excitement for a time - but without deeply committed pastors they can be a flash in the pan.
-Teacher centric churches can by relationally dry. Good teaching and theological training is essential. But it is not the end goal of the local church.
- Evangelistic churches are a wonder in the kingdom, bringing many through the door of salvation. However; they concentrate on evangelism, and not the deep and needed discipleship that a fruitful life as a Christian requires.
The above churches can also lead to spiritual abuse in extreme cases.
Any church the relies on just one man to get things going, and stay running, is going to be a lopsided and crippled expression of Jesus. It is essential that an apostolic/prophetic foundation be laid so that pastors, teachers and evangelists can work together for a balanced local ministry that creates gifted disciples for Christ.
Today I am writing to myself too - as I brood over the events of a church planting meeting yesterday. I am reminded that it is His church, and He has chosen leaders for his purposes - I just have to do my part - and nothing more.
I am also excited to see the apostolic process talking place for the very first time in my Christian life. Is it possible that there is an Antioch just out side of Boston that will grow into a living breathing church where God's creation is reached, taught, and released for His glory? I pray there is.
No more church as usual, are you with me?