Saturday, April 28, 2012

191. Apostolic Ministry and Team Formation Part 2

In the previous post, Apostolic Ministry and Team Formation Part 1, we looked at the qualifications Peter laid out in Acts 1 for adding a new team member to the ministry and apostleship of the "12."
Essentially, the qualifications deal with exposure. The new team member needed to have been exposed to the ministry of Jesus in its entirety.  They needed to have observed Jesus from beginning to end. Following Jesus all that time while he was coming in and going out among them meant they would have been exposed to Jesus' mission, message, methods and miracles, the essential components that propelled the ministry of Jesus into becoming a movement. Most likely, Mathias and Barsabbas were a part of the 72 that Jesus sent out in the limited commission.

Their exposure to the ministry of Jesus form beginning to end is positioned them to experience unity on the team. The unity they had as a team was not based just on feelings or affiliation. Because they had been exposed to the ministry of Jesus from beginning to end, they were essentially grounded in what Mike Breen refers to as the 4 V's of culture: Vision, Values, Vocabulary and Vehicles. Here is a brief break down of the 4 V's:

Vision: "This is where we are going."
Values: "This is why we are going there."
Vocabulary: "This is how we will talk about it as we go there."
Vehicles: "These are the patterns, processes, and procedures that will help us get there."

If we apply these 4 V's to Jesus' ministry, it could look something like this.

Vision: The kingdom of God
Values: God loves people
Vocabulary: The parables
Vehicles: Discipleship, mission, extended family (oikos), prayer etc.

I am ofcourse painting with a really broad brush stroke here, but you get the idea. The 11 apostles had a level of unity in these areas that, say, James the brother of Jesus, could not have. James was not with JEsus from the begining, so, his exposure to Jesus was limited.

Unity around the 4 V's on a team is essential whether on the frontier or back at the settlement. One reason they call the settlement the "settlement" is because these 4 V's have literally, already been "settled." At every settlement is a core group of leaders who covenant together around these 4 V's in one way or another. This is what allows the settlement to stay together. One key difference between the settlement and the frontier however is that not everyone at the settlement has to have full buy in to the 4 V's in order for the settlement to succeed. Every settlement has a core of leaders who guard (and sometimes propagate) the 4 V's through out the organizational culture. In addition to this inner core, there is an outer ring of people who do not necessarily have buy in to the 4 V's. Some in the outer ring do not even know about them. Still some do not even care about them! Yet the settlement still keeps going because there are a group of leaders who embody and guard those four generative components of the organizational culture.

Things are different on the frontier. There is no outer ring of people in the start up phases of frontier work. When doing frontier work, it is the job of the leader(s) to provide clarity in these 4 V's for those who will be joining the team. The pioneering team is a micro-settlement. They carry with them the DNA of the 4 V's that will lay the cultural foundation for the first extended family on mission. The leader(s) say "This is where we are going (vision), and this is how we are going to get there (vehicles)." The way the leader(s) talk about the vision and vehicles when questioned by potential followers will be a starting place for establishing the vocabulary and uncovering the values that steer the pioneering venture. The initial leaders of the pioneering venture are the initial core leaders that are essentially the custodians of the culture that will be seeded and embodied into the founding systems of the plant. There is no outer ring, the leaders are both the inner and the outer ring, making them the first ecclesia to be planted and propagated in the new field. If there is no unity at the core, there will be no unity period. And Jesus was really clear when he said a house (oikos) divided against itself can not stand.

When a team has clear, definitive unity around the 4 V' out! This is a recipe for kingdom breakthrough! Listen to what Luke tells us in Acts 2:1-4. 

"When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."

The word for "one accord" in 2:1 is homothymadon. The word picture is a smoldering conviction, much like an ember or coal in a fire. So question....what happens when you blow wind on a collection of smoldering embers? They produce fire! This is exactly what happens on the day of Pentecost. The wind of the Spirit comes and catalyzes the unity that they already had as a result of the exposure they had to the ministry of Jesus. The Spirit did not work ex-nihilo. He was a catalyst of the training the apostles had already received as a result of their exposure to the discipling of Jesus. Once again, discipleship seems to be the foundational work that the Spirit utilizes to catalyze missional movements

Just so you know I am not stretching things here with the word "homothymadon" it would be good to notice that it is the same word used in Acts 15:25 where the apostles, elders and leaders in the Jerusalem council come to a unified decision (conviction) about the status of the Gentiles and the statutes that they will deliver to the churches planted by Paul and Barnabas. Unity here is not just surface level affiliations. They deliberated about this topic of the Gentiles, and they came to a place of unity as a group to where they could say they were all with "one accord" as to their decisions. 

When doing frontier work, it is absolutely essential that the initial team has "homothymadon," unified conviction as to the 4 V's. Initially, this is set forth by one or several leaders on the team. Those who join the team are essentially covenanting together around these 4 V's. They achieve a state of "oneness" that will hold them together as they traverse the rugged landscape of doing mission on the frontier. Just like any relationship, when times get hard, you lean on the covenant that holds the relationship together. When there is a disagreement among the team members apostolic band about one of the 4 V's, it can pose a real challenge to the viability of the missional venture. 

On the next post, I will explore a little bit more about why unity in the 4 V's is so crucial when doing frontier work. We will go straight to Jesus on this one, the pioneering leader of the movement we all belong to. 

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