Many tout themselves as modern-day apostles and church planters like Paul, but where’s their Antioch?
Although Paul functioned as an apostolic church planter, his self-expressed credentials included the fact that he continued as an elder – meaning he remained grounded in and part of the local leadership of his home church in Antioch. All too often we ignore the fact that Paul was commissioned and sent by his local church on his apostolic missions, but only after having proven himself over many years in the context of that local, functioning fellowship.
At the end of his various journeys to help start and encourage other churches (except for his last, where history says he was beheaded in Rome), he would then return for a season to his home church in Antioch before being sent out again.
Beware of gifted but itinerant men and women who want to “help” your local church as modern-day Paul’s – with their books, blogs, podcasts, seminars and requests to visit you – but lack ongoing community with, roots in, commission from and accountability to another functioning local church.
Some of us have been around long enough to see past incarnations of such floating, unattached “ministries” to local churches.
In the 70’s and 80’s, they proliferated within the Charismatic movement – mainly among those who were certainly gifted but nonetheless could never succeed at finding healthy church with accountable community in their own lives.
Often, they were authors or good aspirational communicators who had exciting ideas, but only answered to themselves. Sometimes, however, they’d form loose associations where they only answered to each other in lieu of having any Antiochs in their lives – which only tended to reinforce the shared theological and personal idiosyncrasies which attracted them to each other in the first place.
Without exception, over time problems emerged with each and every of them – and with the churches that listened to them. (And I mean that – I can’t think of a single one who did not fall prey to one disqualifying problem or another, often related to pride or just becoming increasingly weird!)
There’s too much of this stuff starting to emerge again today, especially within the “organic” and “simple” church community. It is fraught with danger, unbiblical, and will only lead to disaster.
~ Jim Wright