On Being Sent – Apostleship

There are a lot of important verses in the Bible: Genesis 1:1, Micah 6:8, John 3:16, Mark 16:15, and Romans 12:12 come immediately to mind.  Apart from some of the theologically significant ones like Genesis 1:1, John 19:30, and Acts 2:4, usually the most important verses in Scripture are lessons for the reader and their community on how to live the life of faith.  Through these verses, we are called to love, to serve, to preach, and to repent, but there is perhaps no more important call than the commandment to go.

On that first Easter night, after Jesus had appeared in the room through locked doors, he offered them Shalom, the Peace of God, and then instructed them, “as the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”  John uses two different words to convey the message of being sent: Jesus was sent “apostelos” by his Father and he is sending “pempo” his disciples.  Despite John’s use of these words interchangeably through his Gospel, I find it odd in this particular situation that he would use both words.  It just doesn’t make sense in the context of the sentence.

“As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”  We are sent by Jesus under the same commission that he was sent by his Father, that is, we are “apostelos,” or more familiarly, Apostles.  I ran across a blog post by Carey Nieuwhof, Lead Pastor at Connexus Church in Toronto, Canada, entitled “Why we need more entrepreneurial church leaders, not more shepherds.”  In it, he argues that what the Church as lost is leadership that has at its very core an identity as Apostles, which he defines in the 21st century context as “spiritual entrepreneurs.”  He argues that there are five skills of the modern day Apostle that are crucial to the future of the Church.

  1. Willingness to Risk
  2. Experimentation
  3. Restless Discontent with the Status Quo
  4. Boldness
  5. Bias Toward Action

Nieuwholf give a nod to Apostleship as a gift, but as we read the Resurrection Day account in John 20, it become clear that one is not sent except with and through the power of the Holy Spirit.  These qualities, which I agree are extremely important and mostly missing in my context of The Episcopal Church, come from the deep peace of the Spirit of God.

There was a time when I thought of myself as an entrepreneur.  Back when I was Business Administration student at Millersville University, I took every entrepreneurship class I could find, but the Church is built for shepherds.  Rectors, mostly solo priests these days, are so busy with the hamster wheel of ministry that there is no time to think outside the box and certainly no incentive toward risk and experimentation.  Maybe that’s why I’m approaching my 7th year as an Associate.  There is time, and even some incentive, to think beyond the walls, to be sent forth with the power of the Spirit, to bring about change for the good of the Kingdom.  I’ve been feeling discontent as of late, and I think I understand why.  I’ve allowed myself to get comfortable, complacent even.  Perhaps it is time for a spiritual kick in the ass and an Apostleship booster shot.  Not just for me, of course, but if Jesus’ call is any indication, the whole Church should be looking for ways to be sent.

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