What are the characteristics of an apostolic church? What are the foundational values that characterize the apostolic church?
The following principles are listed to spur us to a renewed understanding in what it means to be an apostolic people:
One heart and one mind
The unity we hear so much about is found in a people who are of one heart and one mind. To be “apostolic” is to desire unity. The purpose of unity is to have personal intimacy with the Father and to bring that intimacy to bear in every relationship within the corporate interaction of believers. It is from the outflow of this intimacy among the brethren that we will show the world the love of the Father for the Son and the love of the Son for the Father. Our goal in the unity of the faith is the maturity of the church, for which the Father purposes to display His goodness in the earth.
Humility, teachableness and submission
These values of personal conduct exemplify the heart, nature of spirit of our Lord, Jesus. As we receive Him and the work of His Spirit in and among us, we are enabled to live our lives in the same way He lived, to represent His Father accurately in the earth. Without these qualities, we cannot be an apostolic people. Without them, there can be no real unity, no true visitation of the Spirit and no growth in grace and maturity.
Honor for our spiritual fathers and mothers
An apostolic people honors their spiritual fathers and mothers because they know this is the way of God to establish and receive life and blessing which God has purposed for all His sons. The ability to give proper honor to those the Father has sent into our lives to give us oversight is a genuine trademark of maturity. In apostolic community, the mutual honoring of one another establishes a culture of peace and joy in the experience of this life we live.
Heart to heart relationships
In the traditional church, relationship is mostly one of convenience. The relationship is convenient as long as it serves personal agenda, but when it no longer meets that criteria, it is discarded easily. Apostolic Christianity beckons us to give ourselves to relationships based on faithfulness and loyalty to one another, a relationship of the heart – we give our lives not only to one another, but for one another.
Accountability, transparency, openness, and honesty
Accountability is found in real relationship. Transparency is released in the reality of real relationship. This is the place of trust in and for one another. The love that always trusts can only be experienced in apostolic community, where issues that tend to divide us are worked through and our hearts are at rest because we have come to accept one another as family, as brothers and sisters, as fathers and mothers. An apostolic people do not pursue private and personal agendas at the expense or abuse of others, but they live for the good of all. They are honest about themselves and their motives.
The apostolic church in the first century was recognized by believers and non believers as being a people of devoted love for one another. They were committed to fulfilling the law of Christ, to love as He loves. Those who opposed the church were grieved by this love, and yet, this love was the foundation for the power that was evident in the lives of those in the church. The apostolic church turned the world upside down in one generation by walking in love. This is the need and the call for today’s church, to be an apostolic people who are known for their selfless love for one another.
Laying down our lives for one another
In loving one another as Christ loves us, the Spirit of apostolic Christianity is exemplified in the sacrifice of our life for that of our brother or sister. This is the love that emanates from our hearts toward one another is such that we count the life of another as more important than our own and worthy of our sacrifice. This is at the heart of an apostolic people.
Not democracy, but community
Democracy has never been the government of the church. The apostolic church is meant to find community. An apostolic company functions within the confines of relationship, by its people knowing and trusting one another deeply, not through the politics of who has the most numbers or the greatest influence. In community, it is not the majority opinion that counts but it is the Spirit of God among us bringing peace to our hearts that guides us. The voice of one can bring direction, correction or instruction and all whose hearts are right with one another sense an inner witness to the truth. Leaders who are gifted by the Father carry the responsibility for understanding the heart of the people and the mind of the Spirit, no matter through whom it is being expressed.
Rights, but no rights
An apostolic people must give up their rights. If we are not prepared to do this, we are not walking in the way of our Lord, Jesus. He was honored by the Father because He gave up His rights and trusted the Father instead. We are called to be like Him in spirit and purpose with one another. We are called to look after the interests of one another as we would our own interests. We are instructed to have the same values as Christ when He made Himself of no reputation and did not choose equality with God as something to hold onto, but humbled Himself to become a servant to others. An apostolic community does not demand its rights, but trusts in the covering of the Holy Spirit and seeks to be servants of all. We are a people who must be content with nothing, knowing that our Father will exalt us in His way and in His time.