Combine The Power Of Process Builder And Flow Builder Answers Chapter 4: The Apostolic Canopy – The Apostolic Canopy Model

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Chapter 4: The Apostolic Canopy – The Apostolic Canopy Model

Apostolic Canosphere

Jesus, the apostle from heaven, was the initial bearer of the heavenly apostolic paradigm. However, we know that His mission required giving His life as a ransom so that other “seedlings” would arise and move His mission forward long after His departure. Jesus delegated to the initial twelve apostles the oversight and establishment of this new kingdom on earth. The five offices of God’s government were gifts to the church so that the body of Christ could grow to maturity and become what Christ intended them to be; people walking in His stature and fullness. The apostles were given primacy or preeminence during the initial stages of this newly formed government to get things moving along but not to disappear into church history. Let’s examine the fivefold ministry, starting with apostles, to see how each contributed or contributes today to the overall Apostolic Canopy paradigm. The first role is the role of the apostle who is given the ability to see the “big picture” view of the present and future church. They operate within a Canosphere; the measure of their apostolic sphere where they exercise their authority and have dominion.

Apostles – The “Big Picture” People

The first and premier office that Jesus appointed was that of the apostle. Jesus delegated enormous powers to the apostles to continue establishing and extending His kingdom upon the earth. The apostle’s main responsibility was to oversee the big picture of church development. For instance, Peter was given the “keys to the kingdom.” These keys represented the power to bind demonic powers and evil influences so that God’s power and purposes can be loosed in the earth realm. The initial apostles were privileged because they witnessed:

1. God in the flesh.
2. His teachings.
3. His signs, miracles and wonders.
4. His death, resurrection and ascension.
5. The descent of the Holy Spirit.
6. The birth and early growth of the church.

Remember that Jesus was and is the Chief Cornerstone and from this vantage point the apostles and prophets laid the initial foundation or beginnings of the church. First, Peter was used to open the door of Pentecost to both the Jews and later to the Gentiles. The first door was opened on the day of Pentecost when Peter was given the platform to preach the first sermon to thousands of people. As a result 3,000 onlookers believed, which began the dispensation of the church age.

The Apostle Peter

Peter was also used to open the door to the Gentiles. This occurred when Peter obeyed the Lord’s voice to visit the Gentile home of Cornelius. After Peter’s arrival and brief introductions, he began to share the gospel message. All of a sudden, during his homily, the Holy Spirit descended upon them and they all began to speak in tongues. Peter encountered and heard the same expressions that he experienced on the day of Jewish Pentecost. This was an important event for Peter to witness since he would later become an advocate for the Gentile Christians at the Jerusalem Council. Peter was involved in both of these great events in Christian history in order to witness and attest to God’s obvious plan of redemptive inclusion. It says:

Peter got up and addressed them [the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem]: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that He accepted them [the Gentiles] by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as He did to us.” (Acts 15:7-8)

Peter came to realize the “big picture” of God’s plan. He did not always know exactly what God was up to, but Peter discovered God’s will as he walked in obedience to His commands.

The Apostle Paul

Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, saw the “big picture” as well. He called himself the “master builder” meaning that he saw the blueprints from heaven and was able to implement them. Paul was educated under Gamaliel and he was very familiar with the Old Testament Scriptures. After his conversion, his baptism in water and the Holy Spirit he took a journey into Arabia for an undisclosed period of time; some scholars state this period lasted for several years. Many scholars believe that this was the time that Paul reconciled the Old Testament Scriptures (logos) with his new found faith, and where he began to receive powerful revelations (rhema).

At this point, Paul began to understand God’s “big picture” purposes for his life. Paul began to develop a strong vertical relationship with God. Later he stated that he was humbled with a “thorn in his flesh” because of the “surpassingly great revelations” that he was receiving. He had connected with heaven’s realm in a unique way. The apostle Paul received incredible insights into God’s heavenly blueprints, and how to implement them in the earth realm. Paul’s influence, authority and responsibilities spread over large geographical regions. He became a world changer and made history. It is the apostles’ Paul and Peter that took the key roles of leadership in the early church and combined wrote most of the New Testament.

Evangelists – Jump Starters of the Faith

In the beginning of a believer’s spiritual life we have the gift, ministry or office of evangelism usually at work. The evangelist is usually the first person that starts the “people stream” process by converting the lost (See the Apostolic Canopy Model). How did you come to know the Lord? Most of us were led to Christ when someone used their gift of evangelism or witnessed God’s love to us. For this reason I place evangelist or the gift and ministry of evangelism at the beginning of the Apostolic Canopy process.

The beginning of someone’s faith starts with a person’s conversion or what I would call the “decision” stage of a believer’s life. The evangelist is concerned with the soul winning or evangelistic strategies that reach the lost. After an evangelistic campaign, the evangelist moves on to other unreached areas and leaves behind the recent converts for those in the next link of the Canopy process.

Pastors and Teachers – Lovers and Developers

In the Apostolic Canopy model the two offices or functions that follow the logical flow of evangelism are the pastors and teachers. Their authority and responsibility is local rather than regional since they are more concerned about the spiritual formation and development of a new convert’s life. The combined efforts and responsibility of these two offices are the primary producers of the developmental process of the disciple’s life, which includes initial discipleship and leadership development. Many pastors may operate with both gifts of pastoring and teaching but this is not always the case. Not all teachers are pastors, although many pastors have a teaching gift. They are separate roles in the five-fold government yet often woven and functioning in one person. Their roles break down like this:

a. Pastors exposit the Scriptures.
They feed and impart a deep spiritual meaning and application for living life. According to Psalm 23, a pastor or shepherd’s role is threefold. A pastor:
– Leads their sheep to “green pastures” by providing spiritual nurturing and leadership. They are to feed their sheep with fresh manna; spiritual food.
– Guides their sheep with godly counsel that leads to righteous living.
– Restores the souls of their members by helping them to make healthy choices, create new mindsets and obtain emotional healing that leads to healthy living.

b. Teachers explain the Scriptures.
Teachers explain the scriptures by making sense of complex theology. Ezra was a teacher who mastered the Word of God and was able to draw out life giving principles from it. At one point he merely read the Scriptures out loud and caused the people to weep. A teacher’s role is to:
– Disclose the truth by explaining the Scriptures, and applying practical steps to live by. The people are transformed the truth they disclose.
– Clarify doctrine so that the believer can understand, communicate and contend for his or her faith.
– Disciple the saints to maturity so that they will “no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming”(Ephesians 4:14).

As the local developers, these two offices work together to heal, teach, inspire, supervise and grow the disciple from an immature state to spiritual maturity. In Acts 11, Barnabas and Saul took part of the local church discipleship program in Antioch for a period of time. The narrative in Acts 11 states that the disciples were first called “Christians” in Antioch meaning that the disciples in that church grew and took on the form, likeness and characteristics of the one they learned about, Jesus. It was an effective discipleship program. The objective of the pastor and teacher is to develop their disciples to become effective leaders in all aspects of society.

Prophets – Seers of the Future

At the end of the Canopy process we have the prophets who set their eyes into the future. They are concerned with the future process. I call this the “destiny” stage of the disciple’s life. Prophets assist at the end of the Apostolic Canopy process by completing the discipleship process. They do so by unveiling and disclosing key insights, affirming a person’s gifts and directing the disciple to their destiny. They fill in the missing gaps by revealing God’s design and purpose for their lives. They put the final touches upon the discipleship process. Although this is only a small function of a prophet’s role, since they are really involved throughout the whole process, it does explain a key part of their purpose in the Apostolic Canopy paradigm. Prophets also align themselves closely with the apostles to strategize and establish a foundation upon the cornerstone, which is Christ Jesus.

Four Levels of Maturity
According to Bishop Wellington Boone there are four biblical levels of our spiritual maturity. They are:
1. Babes – New to the faith (Hebrews 5:13)
2. Children – Growing in the faith (1 John 2:12; Ephesians 4:14)
3. Young Men / Women – Maturing in the faith (1 John 2:14b)
4. Fathers / Mothers – Mature believers who reproduce others in the faith (1 Cor. 4:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8, 10 & 11).

The five-fold ministry plays a critical role in developing the saints to a level of maturity. It states in Ephesians 4:12 – 14 that the purpose of the five-fold ministry is to equip “the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine…” (NKJV).

Do you see the level we need to attain and reach for? For what reason? To grow out of childhood into maturity and to look more like Christ so we can impact the nations.

The People Stream

The “people stream” involves the following four areas:

1. Decision
2. Discipleship
3. Development
4. Destiny

This four-part process is a sequential course of action of the Great Commission mandate given to us by our Lord. The “people stream” is the process that people go through in the Apostolic Canopy starting from the beginning of a believer’s salvation experience (decision stage), through the discipleship and developmental process, and finally, arriving at the destiny stage where a disciple is sent out to fulfill his or her own life mission.

1. Decision
The local church must answer this question, what is the fundamental purpose of the church? Luke 19:10 says that Jesus came to “seek and to save the lost.” He came to be an example of what the church should do. Outreach becomes the focal point and mission of the church. It starts outside of our church walls and extends into our city. When Jesus ascended into heaven He commissioned us with delegated powers so that we would go into the entire world full of faith and power to win the lost (Matthew 28:19-20). A strong emphasis on evangelism is a high priority for the local church. Pastors must align themselves with the evangelist or have a strong evangelistic ministry and strategy to reach the lost in their community. Once a person makes a decision for Christ they will immediately need to be discipled by the local church. Therefore, the local church needs to have a consistent, entry-level discipleship program for new converts.

2. Discipleship
Once people are reached they will need to be discipled. First, a major part of the discipleship process is to bring emotional healing to the new convert. God seeks to save the whole person (Acts 3:8, 16). We are called to be reconciled, to make peace with ourselves, others and to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). A ministry of reconciliation is important to have in every church since it brings health and wholeness to the disciple as well as the whole church. Creating a healthy disciple should be the goal of every church. The law of reproduction says that we reproduce who we are; therefore, a healthy leader develops a healthy disciple or follower. On the other hand, an unhealthy leader will develop people who are dysfunctional and unproductive. Health equates to wholeness in all aspects of life (mind, body, soul and spirit). Second, a disciple must understand his or her faith and know how to express it to bring change in a bland world. The writer of Hebrews talks about this in his epistle:

Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1-2)

There are basic fundamentals that a disciple must grasp before a disciple can graduate to the next level, among them are:

1. Repentance – Starting point
2. Faith in God – Building the foundation
3. Instruction about baptisms – Identity
4. The laying on of hands – Your impartation into others
5. The resurrection of the dead – Power to effect change
6. Eternal judgment – Revelation to read the seasons and times

Discipleship is merely acquiring a disciplined life where one learns to obey and follow the Lord’s principles, and the transfer them to others. During this process one is formed and transformed into the image of Christ.

After these truths have been taught, learned and assimilated by the disciple, only then can one continue moving along in “the people stream” of the Apostolic Canopy process to the next level of development.

3. Development
The biggest crises facing the church today is the lack of leaders (disciples) who know their faith and can demonstrate power (Acts 1:1). The local church is responsible to raise up leaders who understand what they believe in (worldview) and be able to communicate a message of freedom and a life of abundance to a lost world.

During and after the initial stages of the discipleship process we are called to develop leaders who are full of the Holy Spirit, power and the knowledge of God. Leaders are people who have been thoroughly trained for the work of the ministry and exercise authority in whatever they do. Every believer is to be seen as a potential leader since they have the imprint or image of God upon their lives. The command to the local church is to develop healthy disciples who are “obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). In this phase the disciple goes from positions of responsibility to positions of authority. When the local church releases disciples into their destiny they should be walking in a level of authority commensurate with their ministry.

4. Destiny
Churches are the equipping and sending agencies deploying God’s people to their destiny under the strategic alliance of the Apostolic Canopy. Sending qualified leaders into the mission field is the final process of the people stream.

Support for The People Stream

There are three Scriptures I will use to support the Apostolic Canopy paradigm. These Scriptures show that each of these offices fulfills a critical step in the discipleship process of the new believer. The apostle Paul states in Colossians 1:28, 29, “Him (Jesus) we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I labor…” Wait a minute! I thought it was only the Holy Spirit’s role to do this. The Lord enlisted the offices of the five-fold ministry to accomplish this task, also. The first witness is found in Philippines 1:6 which gives credence to the Apostolic Canopy theory (Note: Pay close attention to the bold words in each Scripture that follows):

“…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Jesus begins the work of regeneration in the believer’s life. He also supervises the process of discipleship along with His delegated officers. This Scripture speaks of a beginning and a completion process, which aligns itself with the “people stream” process starting with the evangelists, who usually begin the process culminating at the final stages of development and destiny (See the Apostolic Canopy paradigm). How does Jesus carry out His work through completion? He does it in many ways. One way is through the delegated offices that He gifted to the church. Although Jesus and the Holy Spirit are major contributors to this process, they also use the fivefold ministry to assist in the discipleship process of a person’s life. That is why we need the right people on board of a church leadership team. Head pastors cannot afford to place anyone on any platform (pulpit, classroom, etc.) to teach or speak into the lives of their disciples until they have proven their character, anointing and ability to teach. They have to possess the character, anointing and understand the purpose and vision of the senior pastor. Why did Paul use the following terminology, “being confident of this…?” Why was he so confident in this process? He understood the process of conversion and discipleship and what was required to bring disciples to their destiny. He understood that if each office was functioning properly with the right people in place that the discipleship process would work at a premium level. The disciples would then grow into maturity to look like their master, Jesus Christ. The goal of the fivefold ministry is to bring the saints to spiritual maturity to express the fullness of Christ.

Second, Hebrews 12:2 adds to the people stream process of my canopy process, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”

This Scripture alludes to a beginning process working towards perfecting the believer. At the start of a disciple’s conversion a “good work” begins within the believer’s life. Jesus, as the author of our salvation, supervises the process of discipleship through the Holy Spirit and the fivefold ministry.

An author is a writer who starts with an idea; an idea that continues to grow and develop as the writing process moves forward. An author thinks of an idea then gradually brings it to life, and then to its finale. An author does not only have the beginning in mind, but also the end of the story. Jesus, like an author, develops us into the final product that he desires.

Perfecting is a process all its own where the disciple is hewn from a formless rock into a beautiful masterpiece for God (Ephesians 2:10). For instance, as disciples we go through times of testing, trials and tribulations. If we learn to persevere through these trials we grow and become more mature in the process. Through these times, God is perfecting our character and fruit, shaping us to the likeness of His Son. The Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin, righteousness and judgment is also perfecting us. When we submit to His guidance He sanctifies us and brings us closer to God. The fivefold ministry in conjunction with the Holy Spirit prepares us for the work of the ministry as we undergo a perfecting process to get to the point of readiness, and maturity fully manifesting the works of Christ.

As you can see from these two Scriptures, the work of the evangelist or the ministry of evangelism is to start the process. Pastors and teachers are the primary instructors who develop the disciple. The prophets help by filling in any missing pieces in the life of the disciple or church mission. Together they complete the believer’s developmental process and fill in any of the missing gaps. In other words, what is lacking or needed to complete the process of discipleship the prophet will bring to light through prophetic insight.

Finally, the purpose of the fivefold ministry is found in Ephesians 4:12-13. The five-fold ministry “prepares God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

The purpose of the fivefold ministry is to mature the saints so they walk in the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. We are to reflect Jesus’ maturity in ministry in everyday life. Can you imagine millions of Jesus’ walking around and doing the same works that He did during His earthly ministry? We are called to walk in His full character, His full anointing and His full love. We are to become mature eventually reflecting a spiritual age commensurate of His. This can only happen when the fivefold ministry works together to bring disciples to their full measure in Jesus Christ. All five offices should participate in the spiritual development of the disciples in the local church, if this does not occur, the discipleship process lacks important links to their overall developmental process.

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