If we go with officers functioning as apostolic overseers or as apostolic workers, these people would be functioning primarily out of an apostolic gifting, spirit given and spirit annointed. If they’ve got it, they’ve got it. These people will emerge from the local context. Study of the scripture suggests that Paul spent a significant amount of time in the church at Antioch in a teaching role (probably unpaid)…maybe as much as 14 years before he set of on his first apostolic journey. In this time, he would have experiences truly organic grass-roots Christian community functioning together as a body. Remember, this was all new to him as a former teacher of the law…having said that, I can hear a good Jewish friend whisper in my ear that it may not have been as alien as you first think because outside of the temple ministrations, Jewish life was centred around the home and the family, so Paul and others would be bringing that dimension into their experience as a new covenant community.
Why did they send Paul out? The simply recognised that Paul had what it took to be an apostolic planter. You see, Paul’s credentials as an ‘original apostle’ was founded upon his having been, seen and met with Jesus….this was a requirement for the initial twelve + Paul. So, as he argues several places, he had a right to be an apostle in that sense but he rarely appealed to it. He refused to ‘lord it over’ and spent much time, pleading, urging, begging with regards to asking people to hear his words and advice. He wanted the people to respond not to the position that had been given institutionally (even if by Jesus himself) but towards their sense of the Spirit speaking in him…his spiritual authority. The question does remain, however, whether it was really just that the twelve+Paul were given that spiritual authority and not that institutional authority anyway (maybe our Christendom minds assume some degree of institutional model?)
Anyway, my point is that Paul spent time in a local expression of the church and he emerged as one who had been equipped to begin function apostolically (as opposed to just ‘being’ an apostle). The body sense the Spirits equipping of these men for this task and so they laid hands on them and sent them out. This is one of the only places where I see anything akin to ‘ordination.’ And like I say, it had a different posture, doctrine, outcome and ‘fruit’ than the model we have today.
How were they trained? They were trained in the body. We have no reason to expect that the early followers of Jesus stopped doing the Luke 10 stuff….you know, going out in twos around the area and seeking out people of peace, eating, remaining, getting to know, sharing the gospel, healing sick, casting out demons etc etc. They were already planting small churches as a regular part of their discipleship. All that was happening now was that these men were being sent further into uncharted waters, largely. They were being sent beyond their Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria to the ends of the earth and Jesus promised they would. Also, the purpose may have been slightly different. Whereas before they may link people up to the Antioch church, albeit in smaller places, they would still be in the vacinity largely of Antioch doing what Paul then expected the people to do after he had planted small nucleus of people in cities and then considering the work done. He would plant, someone else would water and the growth would come as the disciples spread out organically into the surrounding ‘suburbs’ and outlying country areas.
This model is a model of growth and multiplication. I’d suggest that recruitment of people for leadership is possibly a method of subtraction, especially in the cases where people are recruited from on part of the kingdom at its expense in favour for another part of it. Ideally, from what we see the scriptural pattern to be, these sorts of things (not just apostles, but any other mininistry of the body) arose out of a)necessity (ie deacons serving tables etc) or b) need (eg ‘we need to do this in response to the Holy Spirit. Ministry then came from the sense of what people sensed should happen and if it was a spirit thing, he wouldn’t urge a thing that wasn’t doable.
Because we feel we need to recruit officers for every corps so that we have our clergy in to manage all the places (without which many places would function extremely poorly…and sometimes even with officers do the same….again, confession mode) we are happy to rip people out of their natural context when actually their pastoral skills, teaching skills, etc belong to the local body. As I say, unless there is an apostolic calling, they should be hanging around contributing to the body, in work in either regular work places or in heading up particular agencies to acheive a certain thing. (An aside, here, on this point: Paul and his tent making….its actually suggested that Paul actually made prayer shawls that Jewish people wore to pray. He made tallit…little tents…which were prayer shawls. When Jesus talks about going to your room and closing the door to pray, he is really saying ‘get under your prayershawl and pray! Please, check this out..google it.)
So, to make it clear, people with ministry giftings would only leave the local when the purpose was apostolic. So, what if the the church in the next city needed a pastor because there was no-one gifted? Well, Paul would teach what it was all about (like he does in Ephesians 4), teach them to desire spiritual gifts (like he does in 1 Corinthians) and if there is an issue, he may send in front of him or leave behind other apostolic workers (distinct from apostles) to fill the gap until such times the body was functioning fully. Again, a ministry of multiplication, not subtraction.
So, the officer would learn his theology, ministry and practice in the context of the local corps which is functioning as a body. There would be a sense that he/she/they should be sent out to plant further that their own city. They would be release and supported from the believers who were releasing them for multiplication and from corps they would plant in proportion to what they could give. If you weren’t called to function apostolically, basically, officership wasn’t for you. As William Booth said, officership is the default call….its if your not called to anything else (to stay behind as pastor, teacher, shepherd, evangelist, deacon, elder, local overseer, butcher, baker, hair dresser, bin man, school teacher, prison warden, businessman, newsagent, journalist etc etc) then it may just be you’re called to do the aposlte thing and function as an officer.
This does away with the training college where they, in effect, train pastor/teachers and not apostles. Its only necessary to do this because a) we’ve adopted forms that require an upfront sermon and a pastoral crutch person in a community and b) we have a clerical model that needs a cleric; c) we’ve contracted out local ministry in all the fuctions to outside persons we need to pay to come to live with us (current day officers, youth workers, community managers etc etc) and so we limit the local body in its function etc. I could go on…but you are intelligent people to work out the other consequences of this thinking.
Again, let me just add the disclaimer that I realise that a) I may only be seeing part of the picture and b) it would be highly difficult for the Army to transition to this.
What is my response to be in the light of the challenges?