This is a comment that I made the other day on the Simple Church Journal, a useful site that I came across recently. It was in support of an excellent piece by John Marcus in defense of the need to honour and restore the vital ministries of the apostle and prophet in the house church/simple church scene, where there sometimes seems to be a fear of any kind of leadership other than the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
While I so agree that we must get away from the adulation of men, the “I am of Paul…Cephas…Apollos” syndrome that Paul corrected the Corinthians on, we also must avoid the “I am of Christ” group that he also rebuked. It sounds very spiritual to take that position but I’m not sure that Jesus gave us such a purist option.
After all “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.” (Eph 4:11) Paul’s great balancing revelation however is that Christ gave these ministries, not to gather people unto themselves but “to prepare God’s PEOPLE for works of service”, to release that great ‘people movement’ that was birthed by the Spirit to go and fullfill their true calling. But I contend that it is not going to happen just by us sitting in in our living rooms and ‘allowing the Holy Spirit to lead rather than men’, as if the Spirit is restricted and cannot lead through men.
Truth is there has never been a move of God where there was not key men or women in some leading role, whether it be a Moses, a Wesley, a Zinzendorf, an Edwards or whoever. These leaders, although they were rarely acknowledged as such, were actually apostles and prophets, men who carried a bigger picture than just the local fellowship. This is their foundation laying function; to establish Christ, not just in the individual lives of gathered believers house to house, but as the Head of God’s Government over the nations, person by person, street by street, city by city.
It concerns me for instance when I hear homechurches refer to themselves as local churches when Paul, with the bigger picture, seemed to see all the saints in a local area as the local church, encompassing a variety of ways of meeting but with an eldership over the whole town that carried a much bigger vision than the smaller ‘house to house’ gatherings, vital as they were. I believe that that is God’s bigger intention and that only the restoration of true servant apostles and prophets can take us into that fuller expression of Christ.
I’m passionate about home church/simple church but I tend to believe that until we welcome the restoration of apostles and prophets among us we will finish up where we’ve come from, “of Paul… of Apollos… of Cephas” with an elitist and marginialised group maintaining that they are “of Christ”.