When we think about apostolic leadership, our attention usually goes immediately to the Apostle Paul—out there on the cutting edge, starting new faith communities, facing hardships, and winning Gentiles to the Way. In Missional Renaissance, Reggie McNeal reminds us that Paul was not the only apostle, and there was more than one style of apostolic leadership.
In comparing the Pauline and Petrine styles, for example, he notes: “Some find that they can be missional only in new settings and are quite at home engaging cultures that are not culturally Christian. Other leaders are most comfortable and effective at home serving as missionaries to the church culture, challenging those in it to connect with the Spirit’s agenda in the world beyond them.”
While Paul was penetrating the Gentile world with the gospel, Peter and James stayed in Jerusalem and shared the message of Christ in the center of Jewish influence. They were confronting an established system with a message of renewal, but their mission was still apostolic.
Both within and outside of the church and its structures, we need apostolic leaders. Those who function within the church are leaders who realize that just as God is a sending God (sending forth God’s own son), the church is a sending church. The church should always be looking outward to engage the culture, but someone may have to remind it to do so.
Those who work outside the walls to engage the culture get a lot of attention, but we must not neglect those who work in church and judicatory structures to lead their constituents in the process of becoming missional. More of us will find ourselves in that role than as missional entrepreneurs.
McNeal goes on to point out others besides Paul and the eleven who were also apostolic leaders—Lydia, Stephen, Onesimus, Barnabas, the unnamed Ethiopian official, Timothy, Luke---each worked in a unique way either within or outside the established religious structures to further the gospel.
If you are an apostolic leader, where is God calling you to serve?
(Excerpted from For Such a Time as This: Aligning Churchand Leadership for Missional Ministry by Ircel Harrison; available in Kindle and paperback from Amazon)