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Features of apostolic churches

Dr. George Hunter III in Church for the unchurched, has listed ten features of apostolic congregations

1. They take a redundant approach to rooting believers and seekers into Scriptures.

2. They are disciplined and earnest in prayer, and they expect to experience God’s actions and response.

3. Compassion for the lost and un-churched is non-negotiable.

4. They actually obey the Great Commission more as a warrant or privilege than mere duty. There main business is to make faith possible for the un-reached people in their community. Evangelism of the un-churched is not merely one of many more or less equally important ministries of the church.

5. They have a motivationally sufficient vision for what people as disciples can become.

6. They are congregations that adapt to the language, music, style of the target population’s culture.

7.  They are congregations that labor to involve everyone into small groups.

8. They prioritize the involvement of all Christians in lay ministry for which they are gifted.

9. They receive regular pastoral care from specific people who are gifted at shepherding ministry.

10. They engage into many ministries specifically designed to the un-churched.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • James Petticrew January 16, 2006, 5:01 am

    Chuck Hunter is one of my profs here at Asbury and I have talked to him about some of this. I have a slight worry about some aspects of it. I think it might be approaching mission from the wrong end. Basically Hunter advocates starting with the target group, designing the mission to reach them and the church structures to support that mission.
    I totally agreed with that until I started doing some reading and it was especially Alan Hirsch’s book “The Shaping of Things to Come” that changed my mind. In a lecture he gave here at Asbury to my doctoral class he was arguing that when we start with human need and then work out the mission and church in the light of it what it produces is basically Christians who believe that God is there to provide them with a better life. The Gospel becomes about getting to heaven, being happier, healthier, more fulfilled etc etc. God becomes the servant of the human in this view of the gospel rather than the other way around. In other words, what he is saying is if we start at the wrong end with human need we end up producing a false image of God. The Gospel loses its challenges and power and becomes little more than theraputic. Its produces not radical disciples committed to the Kingdom of God but consumer Christians who look for the church which can best “meet their needs.”
    Instead Hirsch proposes we start with God and work to human need. God’s nature and Christ’s mission determines the church and its mission.
    Here is how Hunter’s scheme looks
    HUMAN NEED —-> MISSIOLOGY —-> ECCLESIOLOGY —-> THEOLOGY
    here is Hirsch’s proposal
    THEOLOGY —-> CHRISTOLOGY —-> MISSIOLOGY —–> ECCLESIOLOGY —-> HUMAN NEED
    In this way of thinking mission is rooted first of all in God’s nature as Trinity rather than human need, then Jesus’ incarnation determines what our mission is and how we carry it out, this mission determines our church structures, the church shaped by its mission reaches out to the needs of humanity.
    On balance I am happier with Hirsch’s understanding of missional church than Hunter’s definition of Apostolic Church.

  • onelife January 16, 2006, 12:10 pm

    That’s really intriguing James, I just started reading Hirsch’s book as well. I totally agree that a strictly human needs-based mission is a poor approach, but I’m not so sure everything works so linearly.

    I have to assume that there must be something more to Hunter’s scheme upfront that might not be articulated enough, because there would be no reason for moving on any form of mission unless there was a missional God who came as Christ and sent the church out.

    The needs-focus has been overblown for quite a while though, but I think it’s intent comes from the biblical concept of meeting people where people are at because they might not be able to understand God otherwise.

    That’s the only reason I can think of right now about having an eye on human needs. Besides that, Hirsch’s model sounds like something many of us really need to hear. I have no doubt that if we took moments to stop running around and trying to meet the many needs we perceive, and continually root our selves in God, we would discover an even greater cry from humanity that we ought to be, and are equipped to be meeting.

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