How to Develop in Apostolic Ministry
© 2018 Philip M Spence
The calling to apostolic ministry is not ours; it is God’s. He is the one who calls us and appoints us before we’re even born. He is the one who graces us to fulfil our calling and opens doors for the expressions of our callings. It is not ‘my’ calling but His calling of my life to Himself and His purposes.
Jeremiah and Isaiah both acknowledged that God had called them before they were formed in the womb and appointed them to fulfil His calling before they were born (Jeremiah 1:5; Isaiah 49:1-2). The Apostle Paul talked about laying hold of that thing for which the Lord had laid hold of him. He said that his example was one of forgetting what was behind him and pressing forward to fulfil the call for which Christ had laid hold of his life (Philippians 3:13-14).
 Be Fruitful Where You’re Planted
The starting point for pressing forward is to be fruitful where we are planted. This requires being planted in fellowship, covenant relationship, and service in another person’s vision for long enough for the fruit of our lives to be seen by all. It also means producing observable fruit that is consistent with an apostolic call and grace being upon our lives.
[a] The Fruit of Character Growth
People might be attracted to our gifts and personality, but they will ultimately follow someone of good character. The trials and tribulations of being planted are essential for us to grow in the likeness of Christ (Galatians 5:22-24). The storms we endure are the catalysts for increased capacity, strength and power. The frustrations refine our souls and produce the gold needed for effective apostolic ministry.
[b] The Fruit of Grace
The Apostle Paul made it clear to the Christians in Rome that He had received grace that was commensurate with his calling as an Apostle (Romans 1:5). In fact, we are given all the grace we need to fulfil God’s calling on our lives (Ephesians 4:7). We are also given exactly the amount of faith needed to walk in that grace and manifest fruitfulness (Romans 12:3).
[c] The Fruit of Evident Gifting
There has been an unbalanced emphasis on gifts over the past few decades. Our identity is not defined by our gifts but by God’s call on our lives. Our giftings are the
toolbox full of tools provided to enable us to fulfil God’s calling on our lives. We should not emphasise gifts; as we become more and more skilled in their use we are to increasingly invest them to fulfil His call and for His glory.
 Allow God to Promote You
Faithfulness is the key to promotion. Jesus taught a parable about a wealthy business person who was going on a long journey, so he divided the responsibilities of his business amongst three of his key employees. Those who were faithful in being good stewards of the entrustment, and producing the outcomes the business owner desired, were commended and promoted. The single reason given for the promotion was faithfulness, so this must be the focus of someone desiring to develop in apostolic ministry (Matthew 25:14-23).
Fruitfulness is the gift that makes a way for us to move forward. Preaching is only one small part of apostolic ministry. Winning souls, doing miracles, and the manifestations of the Spirit being manifest in our lives, are evidences of apostolic ministry, as are a governmental grace, spiritual authority, and doing great works of power. Also, a pioneering spirit, a strategic mindset, and an overseeing heart and ability are part of apostolic ministry. Then, having people who are over us observe and acknowledge the apostolic calling and grace is essential, along with people then receiving us as an Apostle.
This doesn’t happen quickly, so we must be patient, humble and consistent as we undertake the journey of apostolic development. The Apostle Paul began as a zealous preacher but had to undergo many years of faithfulness before he was co-opted by Barnabas and eventually sent on an apostolic mission. When the fruit of his apostleship, along with the spiritual authority he carried, was evidenced, the team and his home church acknowledged him as an apostle. They affirmed that his calling was being confirmed by his fruit (Acts 11:25; 13:1-3).
 Don’t Go: Be Sent
The word Apostle means ‘sent one’. The Apostle Paul was called to be a ‘sent one’ to the gentile world. He began by preaching powerfully but he hadn’t been authorised or sent by the Apostles. The outcome of his initial attempts at being the Apostle he was called to be was death threats, fear and confusion in the church, and being exiled by the Apostles in Jerusalem.
Many years later Paul is sent by the Holy Spirit and the elders of the church at Antioch and ended up establishing many churches, raising up and releasing many ministries, and wrote the majority of the New Testament. What a difference between simply going and being apostolically sent!
Be faithful, fruitful, and allow God to promote, and the sending will come. This is the testimony of Philip who was sent from the church at Jerusalem to Samaria. The record in Acts 8:4 is translated ‘scattered’ but the original Greek word means that he was sown abroad. The ‘dispersement’ as a result of persecution was actually an apostolic sending that resulted in a Kingdom invasion with city-changing outcomes.
 How We are Received is the Key to Functioning as an Apostle
We must never forget that the calling to apostleship is God’s calling, and then we ultimately become Christ’s gift to His church (Ephesians 4:11). However, a gift is only of value to the recipient if it is received. In fact, there is no recipient if no one receives the gift. We can only be of value to the people of God and the purposes of God to the extent that we are received by them.
[a] Firstly we are received on the basis of who has sent us.
Therefore, we must be genuinely sent by the Holy Spirit. If He is the sender, He will ensure that we carry the grace of apostleship which will be seen on our lives.
[b] Secondly, we are received by those who honour, respect, and receive the ministry we serve and that sends us.
The Apostle Paul sent his team members to represent him throughout the network of churches he had established. He gave them specific instructions regarding what was needed and asked the churches to receive his team members.
[c] Eventually we are received for who we are called to be by God Himself.
Jesus said that how people receive us determines what flows in the Spirit from us to them (Matthew 10:40-41). When the Apostle Paul arrived at Jerusalem for the Apostles’ Council in Acts 15, he wondered how he would be received. He said that when the leading Apostles perceived the grace that was upon him they received him on that basis (Galatians 2:9).
 Covenant Relationships Release Apostolic Grace and Authority
It was Emerson who said that ‘No man is an island entire of itself’. How much more in the Kingdom of God where we are to love one another, engage in Koinonia, congregate for worship and the word, and encourage one another to serve God effectively. In fact, Koinonia is the New Covenant expression of covenant between one another. The relationships of apostolic teams and networks should be covenantal as this is the foundation of Kingdom relationships.
Where we have this level of relational commitment there is trust and freedom, and where there is trust and freedom there can be a full release of apostolic grace, authority and power. Then the dimension of spiritual fathering begins to be released because of the depth of relationship that has developed.
There are no shortcuts to the development of apostolic ministry. The process is God’s because He is the one who calls us. He knows what needs to be developed within us in order for us to become the person who is able to fulfil His calling. Therefore the process is different for each of us. We should not compare ourselves with others but instead trust God to make the way for us to develop in the apostolic ministry.
Phil Spence was commissioned as an apostle in 2010 as a recognition of the grace, function, and fruit of his life and ministry over many years. He leads Jabez International Mission, a relational network spanning eighteen nations, and is based in Kingdom Life Church, Brisbane, Australia. Phil may be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.