A Vision of the Possible

My friend Dan Sinclair has written a superb book on the topic Pioneer Church Planting in Teams. Pioneer church planting in teams is what the book of Acts is all about. This book will help every Christian prioritize pioneer church planting in our day. The New Testament term for “Pioneer Church Planting in Teams” is Apostleship. Read this book to understand what apostleship means:

  • We have received grace and apostleship to bring the nations to the obedience of faith (Romans 1:5).
  • Paul said, “I am the apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 13:11).
  • The things that mark an apostle—signs, wonders and miracles—were done among you with great perseverance (2 Corinthians 12:12).

We know there were 12 special apostles, and Paul was an apostle. There were other apostles as well.

  • But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you (Acts 14:14-15).
  • Greet Andronicus and Junia/Junias my fellow Israelites who were in prison with me. They are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was (Romans 16:7).
  • I think God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, as though sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to humans.  We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are sensible people in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute (1 Corinthians 4:9-10) 
  • We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority (1 Thessalonians 2:6).

Sometimes Paul refers to his teammates as apostles, but, unfortunately, the English translation uses a different word, such as “messenger”:

  • As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are messengers (apostles) of the churches, the glory of Christ. 2 Corinthians 8:23
  • I think it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and co-worker and fellow soldier, your messenger (apostle) and minister to my need (Philippians 2:25).

If there were false apostles, there must have been other apostles than the 12 original apostles. Paul wrote:

  • And what I do I will also continue to do, in order to deny an opportunity to those who want an opportunity to be recognized as our equals in what they boast about. For such boasters are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:12-13).

Dear reader, what are some reasons Christians neglect (avoid?) or misunderstand apostleship?

“By pioneer work,” Sinclair writes, “we mean going, like Paul, to where Christ is not “already named” (Romans 15:20 . . . This usually means special struggles and persecution for those who do believe, exceptional obstacles to gathering believers, and unique hardship and sacrifices for the workers who go in and labor, laying down their lives—figuratively and sometime literally—in order that Christ might be formed in the new churches.”[1] Dear reader, how do you feel about this?

“If a team does not have one member who is apostolic, “they are rarely effective.”[2] What do you think about this?

“What are apostles like?” (p. 6-7)” Sinclair says there is not an “apostolic” personality. “They are not supermen or superwomen; they have quirks and soft spots”:

  • They exhibit leadership; they are out in front. But they may not like to follow other leaders. 
  • They are grieved that, this late in history, there are still unreached peoples. But they tend to judge other Christians who do not feel grieved.
  • They are distressed by the imbalance of Christian resources lavished on the reached, compared to the unreached. But they tend to judge other Christians who are not distressed.
  • They initiate. But they tend to pester or bother.
  • They are determined. They have trouble with “No,” “Can’t,” “Shouldn’t.” To risk disapproval is “no big deal.”

Have you known someone who is a apostolic? What is that person like?

  • Dissatisfied with status quo; restless. But impatient; not rule followers
  • They have ‘guts and grit’ they take risks. But they appear confident and cocky.
  • They tend to be innovative. But want to use untried methods.
  • They connect with other apostolic people. But do not easily socialize with normal Christians.  

When God turns the hearts of unreached peoples to Himself, God calls some of these to be missionaries to still further unreached peoples. “God is raising up nationals.” This is important to remember as we go to catalyze movements of churches and disciples.

Pioneer church planting among unreached peoples is the highest priority for the church today.  That is why I recommend this book. Dan Sinclair explains the Biblical basis for prioritizing the task of planting churches among unreached peoples. God is calling Christians to put away their smaller ambitions and go east to preach the gospel.

[1] Daniel Sinclair, A Vision of the Possible: Pioneer Church Planting in Teams (Waynesboro, GA: Authentic Media, 2005). ix

[2] Ibid. 5