The reason a less deep teaching church movement can plant more churches than deep gospel centered church movement for the time being is due to the apostolic anointing and the constant emphasis of church planting in the movement, at a price of forgetting much important orthodoxy doctrines of God. Looking around church panting movements today, I can identify worship as the single most crucial anchor of such churches. Worship, the strength of which, being such a sweet aroma to the Lord, is probably the single most important reason for keeping the momentum going. Worship is the most paramount requirement and ingredient in our relationship with our Maker, our Creator, our God. This is our DNA. Apostolic leadership is a subject mostly found in charismatic churches, and usually have great worship that attracts people to a moving time of worshipping in the beautiful presence of God. Therefore worship is an absolute vital aspect in apostolic leadership type of churches. I will talk about post bible apostolic leadership and argue from the bible why they matter and they exist.
Imago Dei (Image of God)
To not worship God, is not being the creation of God, bearing the image of God (Imago Dei), as the very purpose intent of God creating us. This is very important.
Genesis 1:26–27 (NIV)
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
So from here, the main purpose of God created us in his image is to rule over the world, which we failed miserably through the terrible weak leadership of Adam and the vulnerability of self-idolizing of Eve, when they fell into the lies, half-truth, half lies temptations of the crafty old serpent. So God didn’t create us to enjoy Eden and watch its sunset and sunrise, like a permanently retired pleasure garden. No! He’s a job for us to do, to rule over the garden and all that’s in. You know that animals were all named by that genius Adam, like lion, tiger, snake, scorpion, monkeys, you name it, and all the flowers. But after the fall, everything has changed, deteriorated, and degenerated physically, spiritually, emotionally, and every sense of the world.
But ruling the world requires God’s image, in fact ruling or not, we have the image of God. That’s why racism is a sin against God himself by the way, for instance. We can’t rule the world without God’s image. God’s image carries God’s likeness, that means we have resemblance to God. In what way? In authority, power, glory, his love, kindness, holiness, forgiveness, anger….but the fall brought in the corruption of the flesh like selfish, idolizing self, greed, lust, darkness etc.
Therefore any real sense of church panting, is really to extend the Imago Dei of God to more people, more creations. To extend the rulership invested in us by God, we are mere ambassadors who do not have power within us, but only invested or delegated power from our creator, our God. To extend the image of God to all, we must worship God more and more, and frankly that’s where we are being true humans. To not to worship our God, is simply dehumanizing. We are broken down into despair and evil. That’s why you see if we don’t worship our Creator, we will lunge to worship something else. The connection of worship with Imago Dei is so strong and that’s what makes us humans. This probably the first account of worship by a human toward our God.
Genesis 8:18–21 18 So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. 19 All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another. 20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
You see the effect of worship upon God here? Noah offered the first burnt offering of some clean animals and birds, and the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and guaranteed that he won’t destroy all humans again in spite of every inclination in the human heart is evil from childhood. That’s worship. Worship endears us to God.
Psalm 100: Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his, we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever, his faithfulness continues through all generations.
What’s worship? Shout for joy to the Lord! Worship the Lord with gladness; joyful songs, Knowing that the Lord us God and he made us, we are his. Thanksgiving to him for the Lord is good and his love endures forever. This is the basis for worship the Lord.
That explains why charismatic church planting movement can keep church planting with the main thrust of two things, passionate worship, and the other one is close fellowship community. The word of God is far less God centered and orthodox, however, they managed to survive and keep on moving though slower.
This then becomes the bedrock of a church, will propel the church forward till Jesus returns.
The Apostolic Giftings
Ephesians 4: 7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”…. 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Jesus ascended to heaven and he gave gifts to his church and they are the grace expressed in the gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. These are the offices given by Christ at his ascension in order to equip his people for the work of service, so that the body of Christ (church) may be built up to reach unity of faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, and become mature, attaining to the fullness of Christ. Clearly Paul talks about the idea of bringing the church to full unity of faith, meaning doctrinally in unity, and with that above all in our knowledge of the Son of God, who he is and what he does. Really dealing with God, as who he is and what he does. And from that, and only from that, we can proceed to be equipped for service, ministry, evangelism, discipleship, and becoming mature internally, and not just outward productively of achievements. Only then we can hope to reach the whole measure of fulness of Christ, which sounds impossible, but we trust in him. So the apostles are for today, but they are obviously different from the apostles of the New testament like Paul, Peter, John, James etc. The post bible apostles are real church leadership given by God to equip the church to serve God and bring the whole body to unity of faith and to fullness of maturity. So it’s this group of apostles in this end time that propel the church planting that I have seen with my eyes and in fact joined them for a decade and more in church planting round the world. Hope churches have been fueled by an incredible energy and vision to plant over 1,000 churches in about 15 years. I can see today that there are truly anointed teachers and leaders of the word of God in the reformed world, that influenced and equipped thousands and thousands of Christians round the world, but not given the title of apostles simply because of denominational and doctrinal teachings. But that doesn’t matter, whatever you may call them, as long as the fruit is there. But on the other hand, there are church leaders who somehow put the title of ‘Apostle’ next to their names, but hardly produced the kind of mantra and mantle of church planting of what I see in an apostolic church planting that I know of.
I just want to mention that in my own experience and observation, this kind of apostolic people don’t come often, but we see more of teachers, evangelists, pastors, prophets these days. But a lot of them have mixed functions, not just in one category. In any case, in my paper here, I would just want to say that apostolic office that fueled worldwide church planting has suffered a setback as the leader has stepped down. But you know, God is on the throne, and he has thousands of apostolic gifts around the world that do similar and different ways of bringing the body of Christ to full maturity and unity of our faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God.
Strong Preaching is Not Enough
On the other hands, we have the reformed teaching churches struggle to make headwind to plant churches. Why? Probably we need powerful worship, charismatic type that’s uplifting albeit less word centered, which we definitely already have the preaching that takes care of it. So the idea of combining of solid God centered God centered reformed reaching with charismatic lively David’s kind of praise and worship as appeared in Psalms.
Why do we need Strong Teaching?
The main focus is to produce the image of God in believers in our churches. Who reflect the image of God, the glory of God. That will be impossible without the deep stimulating teaching and preaching’s of the word of God together with all the reformed doctrines as the base. I feel in many churches, the same type of message has been recycled again and again in some movements, that’s major on evangelism, discipleship, and church plant. But what would be the substance for reproduction? Do we not want the best for our next generation?
The Struggle of Not Seeing Fruits
Similarly we struggle to see our own folks not walking with the Lord, or even departed from the Lord, or just plain back sliding. There is so much work to be done, and here I am still in the seminary studying for my Master, and more than that, I am still giving my 40m hours week to my work in the secular company. The waiting is real and trusting God will hand over a complete break through this year 2021, as I have been praying every year. Every one of us has struggles and prayers needs. That’s why we need community of support and prayers. Some of us have need to deepen our theological knowledge to know God and hence equip the church, some of us need a community to start up, some of us need a new vision of the Lord for 2021, whatever the case may be, it’s time to seek the Lord, for those who seek , shall find.
Matt 7 7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
The Promise of God Able to do Immeasurably More than all we Ask or Imagine
Ephesians 3: 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The church has a calling to proclaim the manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. Because of that God will do more than we ask according to his power. The task at hand requires a deep solid gospel centered God centered and Spirit filled worship and loving fellowship churches to be planted all over. Amen.