The very words have certain inherent meaning and purpose in them:
“Out” from where?
In answering these essential questions, there is necessarily implied responsibility on the part of the “sent one” and the “sender.”
This is where many who are in the role of an “apostle,” or “sent out one,” find themselves: I’ve a “sent out one,” but either…
- I don’t have a relationship with any “sending” church, so there is no responsibility to the local church, as is the biblical model for an apostle, so my only responsibility is to the organization that physically sent me, or sent me by proxy for a church(es).
- I don’t know why I’ve been sent out, so I do a lot of different things, maybe or maybe not that are what I should be doing as an apostle: What is an “apostle”?
Essentially, this is an issue of local churches failing to be seeking to equip itself (the people that are the church themselves, the church not being a building or leaders or a core group, but the whole of the membership)for the work of accomplishing the mission that Jesus gave the church after his resurrection from the dead:
Matthew 28:18-20 – Going, make disciples, baptizing them, & teaching
Acts 1:8 – You are to be my witnesses (everywhere in the world, among all the peoples of the world)
There is definitely an element of the mission given to the church as a whole, to all believers & to local churches, that is relative to the church’s immediate place/community, but the local church is also to be about sending out its own who are called to fulfill a specific part of the mission of bearing witness to all people by going out from the local church body’s immediate people and place and going to those places throughout the world that need a witness and the good news that Jesus is the Savior.
The biblical model of this is seen in Acts 13:1-5, where a church is engaged in prayerful following of God and its members are obeying Jesus out of love. Then God leads them to send out specific members to bring the Good News to those do not have it: Paul & Barnabas therefore become “apostles” in the literal sense of the word, in that they become sent out for a specific purpose, carrying a message (as opposed to the use of “Apostles” to refer to Jesus’ “Disciples”). The local church is seeking God and God’s purpose for the members of the church, they are led and respond.
A typical contemporary occurance in the local church is an individual responding to God’s leading/calling on them, and after they respond in their heart to this calling, they inform their church or a parachurch group or sending agency, etc. This is a reversal of the biblical model, due to many different reasons.
Local church responding and sending
Individual responding and informing/telling the local church (Many times telling the local church is only accidentally or after realizing they need to have a “home church” in order to go with an “sending organization” that is essentially parachurch.)
The impetus for the local church, especially its leaders, teachers, and those churches focused on a Great Commission Resurgence is to recognize their responsibility to seek, recognize, and send out those that God is calling to be sent out, to be set apart for fulfilling his mission in an apostolic role, in the role of being sent out from their local church to bear witness to Jesus among a people with no witness.
Also, those local churches that already have persons in the role of an apostle that consider that local church to be their home church, sending church, etc. need to fulfill their end of the responsibility of by actually sending out that apostle as their apostle, by holding their apostle accountable, equipping their apostle, and partnering with their apostle.
The impetus for an apostle that is without a connection to a local church at all, should seek to find a local church that they would become members of, that would send them out as an apostle in fulfilling God’s calling on their lives.
Acts 14:26-27 – Those apostles that have a local sending church need to make sure they are doing two things:
- Fulfilling their responsibility as a member of the church in the role of an apostle by continuing to serve the church, by reporting on what God is doing, by equipping the church members to fulfill God’s purpose for the church, by enabling the church to obey God and partner with them, and by serving the church when they are back among the local body.
- Encouraging and educating the local sending church regarding the church’s responsibilities to them as the church’s apostle. This can be encouraged by the apostle consistently updating and reporting to the church and encouraging the church to join and partner in the work by providing opportunities.
Church is not only about “feeding you.” Church is just existing for you.
The local church body is God’s design for organizing and working out bringing about his purposes and glorifying himself. The body has many parts and there is a mutual responsibility between the parts in order to fulfill God’s purposes: together, the church enables and equips its members in order to fulfill God’s calling and guidance for the church as a whole and the church’s individual members.