I have had the privilege of working with many amazing leaders throughout my life. Some names you may know, like John Wimber and C. Peter Wagner. Some you may not have heard, like Paul Pillai or Jim Durkin. Regardless of fame, all these leaders had one thing in common: They were able to integrate "natural" principles of kingdom leadership with the "supernatural" leadership of the Holy Spirit. I call this "Fusion Leadership."
In over 40 years of leadership in the body of Christ, I have noticed an unnecessary polarity between the supernatural and super-practical aspects of the kingdom. This false dichotomy is a true problem. On one hand, we have principle-based churches that are utilizing the latest techniques of corporate leadership and are seeing outward results but often with inward limitations. On the other hand, we have the power-based churches that are often the opposite. With a few notable exceptions, most power-based churches enjoy deep encounters with God and a steady flow of the works of the Holy Spirit but often lack the evangelistic impact and numerical growth of the seeker churches. It's time for this issue to be resolved.
If our goal is to build leaders and churches that encounter God, reach the lost and transform the world, we must bring together the supernatural and the super-practical. One without the other is simply not getting the job done.
In the Scripture we are told that the church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone. As I mentioned in a previous article, some of our non-charismatic theologians believe this is limited to the 12 apostles of Jesus, along with the Old Testament prophets (Eph.2:20). The problem with this interpretation is that in the following chapter, Paul contradicts this idea and states that these gifts are still in operation (Eph.3:5). He confirms this statement later in the next chapter. (See Eph.4:7-16). When Jesus ascended into heaven, he released a set of spiritual gifts to his people. These gifts are all aspects of His ministry, and in order to reconstitute Christ in the body of Christ, there must be an ongoing operation of these gifts in his church. Yet out of the five gifts mentioned, there are two that are identified as foundational: the apostolic and prophetic.
These gifts are often listed together in some kind of kingdom partnership. They work together to provide a foundation for the church in the following ways. But as we explore the proper, biblical operation of these gifts, we must remember: These gifts are not about title or position; they are about function and fruit.
— Apostolic leaders are "sent ones" who disciple and develop others to be sent. Prophetic leaders "speak forth" on behalf of God's immediate heart and mind.
— The apostolic provides vision, mission, culture and growth. The prophetic provides connection to the presence, power and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
— These two gifts are interdependent, and each will do their best work when they are functioning in close connection to the other.
In Acts 15 we see Paul and Barnabas, as apostles, being sent by the other apostles and elders to proclaim the conclusions of the Jerusalem Council: That the Gentiles do not have to become Jews in order to be saved. The council also sent Judas and Silas, as prophets, to confirm the decision that was made in Jerusalem (Acts 15:32).
These two gifts are designed to function together, but oftentimes we see them separated and independent. We have apostles gatherings in one conference and prophets across the world in another meeting. Also, the most effective apostolic leaders are those who are operating in prophetic signs and wonders as well. The same is true for prophetic people who are able to function with a degree of apostolic grace. These two gifts are interdependent, and their most fruitful impact is felt in dynamic fusion with one another.
An apostle without a prophet will build a factory; a prophet without an apostle will build a fantasy; but the two together will build true spiritual family.
It's time for us to return to a biblical understanding and expression of these two essential leadership gifts and create developmental opportunities for immature leaders to grow into their God-given callings and destinies so that the full ministry of Jesus will be manifested on the earth through his people.
Editor's Note: 3 Characteristics of Apostolic Leadership is part of the Kingdom Leadership series by Michael Brodeur. Below are the previously published articles in this series.
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