4. Apostolic Environment
William Booth was, without a doubt, a man with an apostolic ministry. His visionary leadership, along with that of his closest encouragers, launched a spectacular expansion of the Christian faith around the world. Its a legacy that continues today as our current General, Shaw Clifton, launches us into more and more nations.
Essentially, an apostolic environment (where all 5 Ephesians 4 ministry roles are in place) is one that calls out and develops God’s people, and releases them and sends them into their part of the mission. Apostolic ministry creates the background, the bedrock, for other ministries. Apostolic ministry establishes true faith communities. It gives birth to the prophetic ministry which ensures that the people remain faithful. This then gives birth to evangelistic ministry, calling people to the one true God. With souls being won, shepherds are called into play. Once saved, the teaching ministry leads to fuller disciples who then continue the ongoing work. The balance must remain if the movement is to be kept vibrant, ‘sent’ and advancing.
The Salvation Army has inbuilt a ministry model that most churches today can only hope for. In its primitive form, the local corps setting successfully leashed all five ministry roles. In the corps officer, you could have a mix of any of the five, but her main role was as apostolic overseer, steering the mission of the soldiers. We see Generals, Territorial Commanders, Divisional Commanders ‘talking up’ our mission to win the world for God. We have our prophets calling out the word of God, speaking prophetically to the world and the church on issues such as social justice, poverty, sexual slavery, the call to holiness, and on the spiritual nature of the sacrament.
Back at the corps, the evangelists were leashed in a variety of forms, directed by Corps Sergeant-Majors galore. The Recruiting Sergeant team, including the Band and Songster Sergeants, as well as Visiting or Ward Sergeants were mobilised in pastoral care as well as in the teaching ministry along side Corps Cadet Guardians, Sunday School Guards and the Corps Officer.
We all know the story. I contend that The Salvation Army worked because the whole corps (read ‘body’) was mobilised to their particular ministry. It was honouring to the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers and it created an effective fighting force.
Today, to a large extent, our officers have become one-man-bands. The simple call is for each officer and soldier to discover, develop and function within his or her own gifting. As officers, we fall into the trap of trying to embody all five ministry roles. Either that, or we believe that our sole function is as pastors. We need total mobilisation.
As officers, are we teaching our soldiers to be warriors? As soldiers, are we engaging in the mission dei where God has placed us? Is the Salvationism you experience a creative culture where you are encouraged and released in ministry? If its not, what can you do to encourage change? Are the five-fold ministries alive in your setting?