How would someone, called to be an apostle, prepare for that ministry? Is there training for apostolic ministry? Where would you go? What might that training or preparation include? Most of those who have that calling, assignment, office, have had to receive their preparation by means other than traditional schooling or ministries.
Please understand, it is difficult to speak of the things that follow. I feel like Paul when he said you’ve forced me to talk like a fool. No one desires to put oneself forward, yet in order to be a blessing to others, we must share what God is doing in our lives. We overcome the enemy by the word of our testimony. I cannot speak for all apostles, so I will testify to my own preparation in a sincere desire to assist someone who may be as baffled as I was.
First, apostolic ministry is not our choice but Christ’s. He sends. No one can choose to be an apostle. Jesus calls and sends. We either go or we don’t. From my conversion experience through my most recent ministry, all has been initiated by Jesus. My role is to respond to his calling and sending. From the time He spoke my name on Christmas day, 1976, He has been revealing His purposes and shaping my character–purging what is in me that hinders his honor. As I’ve responded in obedience (and that has never been perfect), I have been entrusted with more. And often I have not deserved to be sent by Him or to have seen the marvelous things I’ve witnessed. I can truly say it is all of Him. I would not have chosen this path. But I would not want to be on any other. He must become more and more . . . And we must go where He leads. Of course, others must confirm that call. Others will recognize, probably before you will, that you are called to the greater body of Christ. And your going and serving will have results. People will know that you have authority to bless and encourage, to comfort and challenge. Sometimes displays of gifts accompany assignments. These also “testify” to your assignment or ministry in any given place, at His appointed time.
Second, apostles share a deep passion for the Father, and the Kingdom. The apostle Paul said, “The love of God constrains me.” He was pushed, pulled , drawn on, and compelled by love of the Father and Jesus. And for love of those who are loved by God–his people. More about this apostolic passion in my next book.
Third, God has prepared us:
REJECTION. We have known rejection. We have had to fight through feelings of inadequacy and abandonment. My life before Christ has been one of rejection and continues to be in some sense even today; I experience rejection but from a different angle than when I was a child. The Lord has taught me not to take ministry rejection personally. Don’t get me wrong–it’s still difficult. But it’s not about me. I need only to be obedient and speak what I’m given. Faithfulness is all that’s required of me once I’ve heard and understood.
IDENTITY. We know who God says we really are. We are sons. We have found our identity in Him. Though I am the least among his many living apostles, I know that I am a son and have His authority on my life. I don’t always know how to walk in that and am learning more daily, but Jesus continually presents his own calling–his death and resurrection–in my life. I know that I am walking into His plan and purpose. I also know that difficulty awaits. But so does unimaginable blessing and fruit. I have many promises of God that I am waiting to see unfold. And they will.
KNOWLEDGE. We are learning and are living out what the Father is teaching. We are no longer on milk, laying over and over the same foundations; we have learned the teaching about righteousness (Heb 5.13-6.1). Now we are called to go from sincere love to deep love (1 Pt. 1.22 NIV). We have also prepared ourselves with study of the Word of God. Some of us have studied formally and others informally. Some have done both. But God has taught us. And we know that what makes us most effective is hearing first for ourselves. Being not only hearers, but doers of the Word. Then hearing what “the Spirit is ‘saying’ to the church.”
CHARACTER. We are being shaped by His hands. He is forming vessels of honor (to give honor and bring honor to Him). But the job description is not one that flocks sign up for. When I sought the Lord, asking Him how I could prepare, the Holy Spirit took me to meditate on and abide in 1 Cor. 4.9-21. Take time to immerse yourself in this text before you glamorize apostolic ministry. That said, there is nothing I know as thrilling as being sent on assignment. Whether that be to the local store or to a church gathering several states away or to the Republic of Georgia (I was sent there immediately following the Russian incursion into Georgia with a specific assignment to a specific man, with specific words. When I arrived, he was an atheist, today he is a precious brother in Christ. Dearer to me than flesh and blood brother. His conversion, while I stayed at his home, transformed not only his life and his family, but mine as well. His church and the market where he works was also impacted for Christ). God has a special call and assignment on his life too. Just as he has in yours.
These are some of the preparations I have experienced. I share more about the authority of apostles in my book, We’re the “sons of God” . . . So What?–available at Amazon.com.
Why not participate in a discussion. Leave a comment. Let us know if this post helps you or if you have something that can help someone prepare for apostolic ministry.
©2011, Dr. David C Alves
I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help [hold] thee.
One day after Hurricane Edna struck western Massachusetts in 1954, my father took me to the Ludlow Bridge which spanned the Chicopee river between Ludlow and Indian Orchard at what was once known as Wallamanumps Falls. We walked onto the bridge and watched the raging water only a few feet below the bridge, splashing against the upstream side. Residents knew that with the dam opened that tumultuous white water was over 50 feet deep. If anyone fell in, they would never survive. I couldn’t see the water because I was only 4 years old and not big enough to look over the concrete siding. So my dad picked me up and sat me on that railing with my feet dangling over the edge. Others around him panicked. At first I was terrified, but my dad held me with a firm grip and told me that I would be OK because he was holding me and would never let me go.
At my advanced age, I still have that mental picture of the raging waters of the Chicopee river directly beneath my feet, and of my father’s strong hands. I can’t help but think that the act of my foster father helping me to see the power of a storm-stirred river developed a deep trust, in my young heart, that my “Dad” was able to hold me and keep me safe. How much stronger and greater the hold of our eternal Father’s hands? He has held me for 42 years now, and has not let go once!
Don’t try to hold God’s hand; let Him hold yours. Let Him do the holding, and you do the trusting.
See Also: Isa. 41:10
I’m writing this to my friends, family, and present and future readers. I believe that my books serve an important role in both spiritual formation for believers in Christ as well as foundational primers for pastors. Now, they have a great chance of being made available to those students of Scripture and ministry leaders who use Logos Bible Software.
Both Sabbatical Primers and We’re the “sons of God” . . . So What? have been made available to Logos Bible Software’s “Pre-pub” Department. If you have any inclination to help place my pastoral and spiritual formation books into the hands of readers at a reasonable price, I’d like to show you how you can help.
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The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break Camp and advance into the hill country . . . go to all the neighboring peoples . . . ‘
–from Deut. 1:6-7 (NIV)
God’s people had camped with Him at the mountain where the law was given. This is also where Elijah came in a time of particular discouragement and depression. Desert mountain symbolized to early Christians a place of bondage to law and slavery (Gal. 4:24ff). At last, God would take them into the rich, green land He had promised them, the “hill country” of freedom and abundance. They would be a people, holy unto Him, a light to the peoples around them. Israel was a testimony to the One true God. They were waiting for a word from Him. They wanted guidance. They anticipated that God would answer them, but they needed to hear His command—GO—advance.
Like them, a second time in Israel’s history, God’s people waited to hear from Him. Four hundred years of silence finally broke as Messiah Jesus came into the world. At the right time, He appeared publicly to Israel and said to those who would follow Him, “Go into all the world.”(Matt. 28:18-20). This was God coming to His people to heal, deliver, forgive, restore for a reason . . . so that they could break camp and “GO.” These new followers of Messiah would be a holy people, washed clean, created to be a light on a hill, a pure people for fellowship with God and for reconciling the nations and multitudes to God.
God has been preparing a people here at New Life for the past seven years. Noteworthy that the number seven is the number of completion, the biblical number of perfection. Not that we are perfect in and of ourselves, but we have a God who is at work in our midst and He is perfecting us to be a holy people to be used of Him to minister to “all the neighboring peoples” (Titus 2:11-14).
God’s heart for us is to forget the past and move confidently ahead with Him. Some of us have been hurt or wounded in the process of becoming a people and tracking with the Lord into house-church, but now it is time to be healed and set our hearts on advancing with our Savior. For He has called us to “Follow” that He might make us fishers of men and women, boys and girls who need a Savior.
God is calling us to a deeper love, to bear with one another in love, to move on from here and to “break camp.” Now, in His Spirit and grace, He commands us to GO. Go to all the peoples in this region who need Him. Go to those who need freedom and salvation. “Forget the former things.” He is doing a NEW WORK. Do you perceive it?
We are breaking camp. We have pulled up stakes and are following our God. Don’t be left behind. He has important life-saving work for you to join Him in. But it’s in hill country of relationship, not the desert of religion.