12 Characteristics of the New Apostolic Leaders

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Do you have what it takes to be an apostolic leader?
Do you have what it takes to be an apostolic leader? (Lightstock)

The so-called Apostolic Reformation since the mid-1990s signaled the end of identifying Christian movements merely by denominations. With that, there was a new emphasis on visionary leaders in the body of Christ known to function with the five-fold ministry gift of the apostle (Eph. 4:11).

These apostolic leaders have had a demand upon them to evolve and improve in regard to best practices, emotional maturity and leadership style.

The following are 12 of the characteristics of the new apostolic profile:

1. They integrate the message of integrity with the message of kingdom influence. These new apostolic leaders celebrate the Christ-like characteristics of simplicity, humility and personal transformation—not merely cultural engagement and societal transformation. In light of the leadership scandals of the past three decades, they realize that we cannot have the latter without the former.

2. They are ecumenical and collaborate with the church. They do not espouse the old-world Protestant or Catholic divide. The cultural wars against religious freedom have forced the body of Christ to come together, and these leaders are among those advocating for greater collaboration between different expressions of the church without compromising their distinctive theological beliefs. This collaboration also includes forging new partnerships with intentional ethnic diversity.

3. They do not focus on ecclesial titles. Unlike many of the leaders in the past, these new apostolic leaders do not depend upon the title of "apostle" or any other ecclesial title to validate or identify their ministry. They believe the fruit of their ministry and influence speaks louder than mere titles.

4. They espouse apostolic government with an egalitarian spirit. The book of Acts and the epistles clearly give models of local churches that are under the oversight of apostolic leadership. However, a closer reading of these narratives reveals that New Testament apostles urged church leaders to adopt an egalitarian approach replete with a servant's heart, humility and self-sacrifice. A top-down autocratic leadership approach in which apostles impose their will on the congregations was not the biblical norm. Even in a crisis, Paul pleaded with the leaders to do the right thing and remove the immoral person among them (1 Cor. 5).

Jesus said that the Roman leadership approach of lording it over their subjects was not the way of the kingdom (Mark 10:42-45). He said that the greatest leaders are the ones who serve. The new apostolic leaders are going to move more away from the heavy-handed style of past generations to more of an egalitarian approach with a bottom-up strategy that employs teams to accomplish kingdom purposes.

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