Four12 article image for 'Authentic Apostolic Partnerships' about apostolic networks versus apostolic partnerships

Authentic Apostolic Partnerships – Part 1

Words are important because they convey meaning. For this reason, we need to choose our words carefully. The Bible’s word for how churches should work together is ‘partnership’ (Philippians 1:5; 2 Corinthians 8:23). This rich descriptor has been casually replaced by other words (like ‘network’) to describe how churches work together. The change in language serves to illustrate the underlying belief that we can engage in whichever way we prefer or is most comfortable for us. It is tempting to create our own way of working together rather than studying the biblical definition and aligning ourselves with it. The modern church needs to be a reflection of God’s architecture. Haphazard building, based on our ideas, convenience and creativity rather than on God’s building, needs to be corrected urgently, lest our workmanship be burned up.

The Relational Foundation of Apostolic Partnerships

According to Strong’s Concordance, the biblical word ‘partnership’ (koinonia) means ‘…what is shared in common as the basis of fellowship (partnership, community).’ The way the Bible uses this word in other places shows that in this ‘sharing, partnership or community’, God is thinking of something far greater than a loose network. For example, the word ‘koinonia’ is used of our unity with Christ (1 Corinthians 1:9) as well as our unity within the local church (Acts 2:42). So when this word is used to define how churches partnered together within an apostolic field (2 Corinthians 10:13-16), as it is in Philippians 1:5 and 1 John 1:3, we must realise that the unity being described is far greater than a loose federation or church network.

In partnerships, apostles work closely with local elders in a determined and strategic way to help their churches.

So let’s look at some of the differences between an ‘apostolic partnership’ and what is often commonly referred to as an ‘apostolic network’ to find out if we are indeed in an apostolic partnership.

Corrected and Congratulated

True biblical partnerships correct, rebuke and encourage (2 Timothy 4:2). Without true apostolic correction and rebuke, churches will continue to build on faulty foundations, blindly unaware of their shortcomings. Every letter to the local churches in the New Testament, except Ephesians, brings correction – they even include a stern rebuke at times! God’s ways have not changed. We need grace-filled apostles speaking correction, rebuke and encouragement to the churches with which they partner.

The truth is that if you are not being corrected and rebuked, you are not in an apostolic partnership.

Unfortunately, in many modern networks, leaders are always encouraged and celebrated in what they are doing well, because their churches are only loosely federated. ‘Apostles’ fear that they may not get invited back and so ‘speaking the truth in love’ has become an uncommon virtue. The truth is that if you are not being corrected and rebuked, you are not in an apostolic partnership.

Nations and the Neighbourhood

True apostles sweep local churches up into their mission of making disciples of nations. They work intentionally into local churches to get them healthy and then bring those local churches into their greater mission of reaching beyond local neighbourhoods into nations. They are passionate about healthy churches, because they know that each church reproduces according to its kind.

In partnerships we see apostles working closely with local elders, laying the foundation of Christ into every saint and calling all to the high call of ‘seeking first the kingdom of God’ (Matthew 6:33). The fruits of this are churches where all the saints have ‘devoted themselves’ (Acts 2:42).

True apostles…bring those local churches into their greater mission of reaching beyond local neighbourhoods into nations.

In God’s plan, everyone is on the same mission and all who are within an apostolic field work together to extend Jesus’ influence. Through their unity, they grow the ‘field’. Every local church within the apostolic field genuinely seeks the health and vitality of every other local church in their partnership.

The same cannot be said of many networks. Apostles tend to give tips on how to reach the neighbourhood. Sermons feel more like self-help coaching sessions than powerful, Spirit-filled calls to pick up your cross to help make disciples of nations. Everyone does their own thing and apostles and churches only share some of their resources and ideas.

People and the Pulpit

In partnerships, apostles work closely with local elders in a determined and strategic way to help their churches. Instead of the latest ‘Tupperware sermon’, preachers and gifts are strategically moved into local churches to help strengthen weak areas (1 Thessalonians 3:10). They equip and activate the saints to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12). It is the saints themselves who get to go and make disciples of nations. Christians within the churches are equipped and enabled as priests to walk out their destinies within the field and to advance their joint inheritance. As each part does its bit, the body grows and has life. (Ephesians 4:16). In this way, the saints discover the wonder of working for the Lord.

Christians within the churches are equipped and enabled as priests to walk out their destinies.. and to advance their joint inheritance.

And in networks? Well, many speakers simply share pulpits. They get invited from time to time to do joint conferences or to be a guest preacher within another church in the network. The people get blessed by hearing great communicators.

There is still more to say on God’s architecture for healthy church, but hopefully you have found these keys helpful. If so, then read Part 2 of this ‘Authentic Apostolic Partnerships’ series here.


Article Series:  Authentic Apostolic Partnerships – Part 2 Authentic Apostolic Partnerships – Part 3


 

Andrew is the apostolic leader of Four12. He also leads the multi-site Joshua Generation Church and is the founder and director of Freedom of Religion South Africa. He is based in Cape Town, South Africa, along with his wife, Emsie, and their daughter, Enya. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram for more.

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Protection
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Decisions
Eldership
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Shame
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Traditions
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Morality
Wisdom
Women Leaders
Ordaining Elders
Christian Community
Backslidden
Resurrection
Testimony
Masturbation
Communal Culture
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Prophesy
New Churches
Five Fold Gift
Trinity
Tithe
Relationship
Employment
Thanksgiving
Atheists
Old Testament Prophet
Ambassadors
Truth in Tension
contradictions
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treasure
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Culture
Good News
Maturity
Self-Control
Word of Knowledge
Bitterness
Self-Pity
Courting
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Anger
Freedom
Submission
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Movement
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Discernment
Gospel
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Shepherding
Work
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Desires
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Fathering
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Fear
lead
Life
Repent
Anxiety
Obey
Child Care
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Volunteer
Taiwan Church
Israel
Healthy Church
Teacher
Multi-site Church
Perseverance
Loving Others
Profession
Social Media
Hopelessness
Lee Strobel
Kingdom Living
Refining Fire
God's Glory
Marriage
Discipleship
Grace
Ministry
Sin
Worship
Confusion
Trials
Husbands
Offence
Humility
Idols
Pride
Evangelising
Obedient
Christian Leadership
Singles
Healing
Direction
Revelation
Conviction
Complacency
Recalibration
Guidance
Transformation
Volunteering
Taiwan Churches
Providence
New Testament Church
Pastor
Church Structure
Feminism
Apostolic Partnership
Vocations
Distractions
Christian Books
Christian Movies
Covenantal Love
Storms of Life
resilience
steadfastness
uncompromising
Four12 Conference
Accountability
Doctrine
Healing and Miracles
Money
Social Justice
Youth
Death
Tribulations
Partner
Overcoming
Humbleness
Immorality
Prophets
Fornication
Planting A Church
Christian Leaders
Debt
The Word
Discipline
Condemnation
Bear Fruit
Complacent
Recalibrating
Teaching Kids
Partners Relief Fund
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The Poor
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Heart of God
Justice
Church Partnership
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Existence of God
Christian Literature
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Apostles
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Stewardship
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Hell
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Defending My Faith
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Pastoring
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Brotherly Love
Eternity
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Bishops
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Parenting
Poor
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Starting A Church
Parents
Poverty
Study the Word
Stewarding
Punishment
Being Hospitable
Sharing The Gospel
Restoration
Training Kids
Malawi
Leading Youth
Surrender
Testimonies
Christ
Delegating
Servant
Social Gospel
Character of God
Worth
Gift of Tongues
Godly Elders
Big Churches
Salvations
Sacrificial Love
Potential Leaders
Baptism
Fear of God
Hospitality
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The Bible
Church Leaders
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Fellowship
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Character of an Elder
Adultery
Rebelling
Signs and Wonders
Baptise
Infant Baptism
Power
Possessions
Study the Bible
Steward
Hatred
Hospitable
Spreading The Gospel
Relationships
Training Children
Health
Youth Training
Counting the Cost
Healing Equip
books
Raising Leaders
Shepherds
Contentment
God's Character
Affirmation
Judaism
Enlightenment
Building Deep
Prostitution
Godly Team
Footholds
Breaking Bread
Festivals
Idolatry
Prayer and Fasting
Theology
Foundations
Heaven
Fellowship of Believers
Leading Church
Diversity
Church Accountability
Rebellion
Witchcraft
Baby Christian
Kassie du Plessis
Protector
Tithing
Envy
Quiet Times
Retaliation
Lessons
Spreading The Word
Cheating
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Four12 Equip
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Pastors
Rest
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Reason
Selling Out
Prostitutes
honour
favour
Devil's Schemes
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Forgiveness
Income
Prophetic
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Living for Christ
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Sancti
Words of Knowledge
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Christmas
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The Cross
Persecution
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Brazil
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Identity
Small Group
Biblical Pattern
Systematic Theology
False Gospel
Testimony Apostolic
Jews
Reasoning
Watering Down
Reaching Out
Expectancy
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Generosity
Jesus
Purity
Trust
Helps
Mortality
Christian Family Values
Lukewarm
Home Group Leaders
Exhort
Sanctification
Dominionism
Beliefs
Praying
Celibacy
Fathers
Comparison
Training
Bible Study
Tests
Cross
Fear of Man
Find Forgiveness
Sacrificial Service
Brazil Churches
Prophetic Equip
Voice of God
Team
Home Group
Change
Servant Leadership
Apostolic Leaders
Authentic
Religions
Intellectual Pride
Ambition
Fruitfulness
God's Favour
The Church
Christian Living
Gentleness
Joy
Repentance
Unity
Loving People
Infirmity
Family Values
Righteousness
Leading
Exhortation
Self-Righteousness
Kingdom of God
Commands
Provision
Sex Before Marriage
Mothering
Women in Leadership
Halloween
Honesty
Testing
Crucifixion
Conversion
Guilt
Sacrificial Giving
Church Merger
Equipping
Saints
Leadership Team
Priesthood
Jehovah's Witnesses
Women In Ministry
Fruit of the Spirit
Womens Ministry
Messiah
Mind Idolatry
Megachurch
Biblical Paradox
Honouring God
God's Manifold Wisdom
Church Leadership
Church Life
Giving
Kindness
Revival
Water Baptism
Servant Heart
Living for Jesus
Covenantal Relationships
Division
Accusation
Flesh
Sexual Sin
Scripture
Customs
Provider
Living for God
Mothers
Female Leaders
Calling
Christian Fellowship
Backsliding
Easter
Witnessing
Infidelity
Biblical Culture
Merging Churches
Prophetic Equipping
Gift of Prophecy
Apostle
Priesthood of All Believers
Finance
Servanthood
Biblical Church
Praise
Atheism
Church History
Living the Gospel
Paradoxes in the Bible
Honouring People
Church Planting
Community Leaders
God the Father
Leaders
Salvation
Women
Afterlife
Protection
Dating
Decisions
Eldership
Fleshly Desires
Shame
Truth
Traditions
Works
Morality
Wisdom
Women Leaders
Ordaining Elders
Christian Community
Backslidden
Resurrection
Testimony
Masturbation
Communal Culture
Partnering Churches
Prophesy
New Churches
Five Fold Gift
Trinity
Tithe
Relationship
Employment
Thanksgiving
Atheists
Old Testament Prophet
Ambassadors
Truth in Tension
contradictions
Treasure Hunting
treasure
Deacons
Culture
Good News
Maturity
Self-Control
Word of Knowledge
Bitterness
Self-Pity
Courting
Forgiving
Anger
Freedom
Submission
Gifts of the Spirit
Get Baptised
Works and Faith
Morals
Gift of Wisdom
Females in Leadership
Ordaining
Defence
Commitment
Hearing God
Consequences
Receive Forgiveness
Leadership Training
Living Hope
Zimbabwe
Start a Church
Prophet
New Believers
Being Generous
Study Scripture
Jobs
Entitlement
Misotheists
New Testament Prophet
Work Values
Family
Devotion
Goodness
Men
Serving
Word of Wisdom
Brokenness
Sickness
Courtship
Friendship
Church Plant
Hope
Trusting
Gifts
Baptized
Fasting
Overcomer
Words of Wisdom
Leadership
Encounter
Repenting
Challenges
Listening
Caring for Children
Four12 Partners
Training Leaders
St Johns
Relief Fund
Building Church
Evangelist
Dreams
Communion
Being Accountable
Occupation
Rejection
Misotheism
The Case for Christ
Kingdom Priorities
Biblical Contradictions
Movement
Love
Discernment
Gospel
Mercy
Shepherding
Work
Caring
Suicide
Desires
Lies
Fathering
Vulnerability
Accountable
The Apostolic
Kids
Intercession
Singleness
Fear
lead
Life
Repent
Anxiety
Obey
Child Care
Four12 Partner
Volunteer
Taiwan Church
Israel
Healthy Church
Teacher
Multi-site Church
Perseverance
Loving Others
Profession
Social Media
Hopelessness
Lee Strobel
Kingdom Living
Refining Fire
God's Glory
Marriage
Discipleship
Grace
Ministry
Sin
Worship
Confusion
Trials
Husbands
Offence
Humility
Idols
Pride
Evangelising
Obedient
Christian Leadership
Singles
Healing
Direction
Revelation
Conviction
Complacency
Recalibration
Guidance
Transformation
Volunteering
Taiwan Churches
Providence
New Testament Church
Pastor
Church Structure
Feminism
Apostolic Partnership
Vocations
Distractions
Christian Books
Christian Movies
Covenantal Love
Storms of Life
resilience
steadfastness
uncompromising
Four12 Conference
Accountability
Doctrine
Healing and Miracles
Money
Social Justice
Youth
Death
Tribulations
Partner
Overcoming
Humbleness
Immorality
Prophets
Fornication
Planting A Church
Christian Leaders
Debt
The Word
Discipline
Condemnation
Bear Fruit
Complacent
Recalibrating
Teaching Kids
Partners Relief Fund
Apostolic Partnering
Netherlands
Marriage Training
Church
Apostolic Field
Administration
Racism
Church Partnering
Christian Values
Cosmological Argument
Christian Authors
Review
Husband
Isle of Man Conference
Apologetics
Elders
Heaven and Hell
Obedience
Spiritual Gifts
Caring for Others
Depression
Online Church
Spouse
Conflict
Meekness
Lust
Prophecy
The Gospel
Purgatory
Control
Finances
The Word of God
Modesty
Judgement
Bearing Fruit
Comfort
Divorce
Teaching Children
Four12 Partners Relief Fund
Pastors Training
The Poor
Letting Go
Values
Partnering
Heart of God
Justice
Church Partnership
Great Commission
Existence of God
Christian Literature
Old Testament
Romance
Apostles Teaching
Apostles
Evangelism
Holiness
Partnership
Stewardship
Caring for People
Doubt
Church Involvement
Wife
Reconciliation
Overseers
Lying
Deception
Hell
Raising Children
Godliness
Miracles
Word of God
Ordained
Equality
Breakthrough
Defending My Faith
Covenant
Teenagers
Four12 Churches
Training Pastors
Needy
Rastafarian
Translations of the Bible
Preaching
Authentic Community
Relationship with God
Faith and Works
New Christian
Creation
Reading
Worldviews
God's Love
Presence of God
Apostolic
Faith
Holy Spirit
Pastoring
Suffering
Brotherly Love
Eternity
Community
Wives
Bishops
Shepherd
New Believer
Greed
Immaturity
Raising Kids
Parenting
Poor
Bible
Ordinance
Unforgiveness
Refreshing
Defending The Gospel
Matrimony
Teenage Years
Four12 Church
Youth Leaders
Ireland
Redemption
Godly Leadership
Disciple
Church Discipline
Church Health
False Teachers
Fatherly Love
Tongues
Goats
Fear God
Godly Love
Body of Christ
God's Presence

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