Article by Teresa Chang
Reaching the next generation is a core value in my church. It is so deeply entrenched in all of our church leaders and members that most of our church programs have something to do with the college, youth or children’s ministry. We have mission trips for the youth, hold the most extravagant VBS in our city, even our neighborhood outreaches are targeted towards families with children and youth. Our heart to reach the next generation has expanded even to an annual youth conference that we host, where 44 different churches from all over the East Coast send their youth students to come and encounter God!
As an apostolic lifestyle becomes more and more important to your church, a set of practices begins to emerge that reflects the things your church does naturally. You don’t do them because you are told to do them or because you have a program set up that helps you do them. Instead, you do them automatically because you love Jesus, His Word and His purposes, and these things are deeply entrenched in your heart as a community. The values you embraced have become a way of life for you.
Let’s look at some hands-on, practical ways you can build an apostolic lifestyle in your church:
1. Give your people a vision for
An apostolic lifestyle begins when we realize why we are here. We know we are here for a purpose, and we want to please the Lord, not ourselves. The Church’s overall goal is the Great Commission, and when we really understand the following verses, our desire for a true apostolic lifestyle will grow:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
— Matthew 28:19-20
That is the first step in building an apostolic lifestyle—making sure the Great Commission has preeminence in everything you do.
2. Understand where your church is in the growth process.
Your church’s lifestyle revolves around its values and priorities. How would you answer the following questions?
- What does your church value? How does the church prioritize those values?
- Does your church value serving God and people?
- Look at how your church members manage their money, spend their time and allocate their talents. Generally speaking, are people giving God their best and honoring Him with their lifestyle choices?
- Is your church’s movement and growth balanced and sustainable over the long haul?
When it comes to how you manage your time, energy, money and resources, most of the challenges will be about your ecosystem. Certain factors interface with each other to create balance in our lives. If that balance begins to lean toward our own interests, we will find ourselves getting sucked down a path toward selfishness. But when we realize what’s happening, we can start adjusting our choices and priorities, so relationship with Jesus again becomes our focal point.
To put it bluntly, most problems in our lives come about because we aren’t fully giving our hearts to Jesus. That might sound a little harsh, but it’s true. Matthew 6:33 says that if we seek first God’s righteousness and the Kingdom of Heaven, everything else is added to us. That is a point of faith we need to exercise, realizing, Wait a minute. If I put anything above God, it’s going to mess up my life, but if I put God and His purposes first, He will make sure I live a balanced, full, fruitful, fun life. Why? Because He wants the best for me.
3. Celebrate apostolic leadership
wherever you find it.
Preach on the subject of building an apostolic lifestyle. Celebrate actual apostles (people who are known to be apostolic leaders), as well as the members of your church who are moving in apostolic ways by starting ministries, small businesses, organizations, non-profits, etc. As leaders, we have an amazing opportunity to mirror the heart of Jesus as we encourage those around us to go forth and build.