Foundation-Shifting Concepts for Apostolic Leadership
Phil Miglioratti Interviewed Dave Robinson, Author of "Unwavering Resolve: a Guide for Apostolic Leadership"
"This book is laid out as a guide book for apostolic leaders and their teams,
designed to share a summary of the most important informationI’ve learned over the years for fruitful mission and effective leadership."
PHIL >>> Dave, please define "apostolic leaders" and why you have written this book for them.
DAVE >>> An apostolic leader is a missionary leader, church planter or mission team leader; "one who is sent" by Jesus to break new ground for the Kingdom and advance the mission of Jesus on the frontiers of the harvest. They remind the Church of the missional gap - the gap between where gospel communities and churches are and where they do not exist - and do all they can to mobilize the church to mend that gap.
When the Nicene Creed uses the phrase, “apostolic church,” it identifies that the role of the Church is to spread the Word of God universally across the world. That is what we are sent to do.
Aposotlic leaders start things where Christ is not known, or we help start movements of the gospel, disciple-making, and church planting where none exists.
Church Movements, a ministry of Cru, is in partnership with the Church.
Our mission is to increase the capacity and confidence of leaders
to multiply faith communities, church-planters, and fruitful evangelists.
PHIL >>> Your mission combines several strategic components in a way that communicates a reimagined perspective on ministry. How important is it for leadership to rethink the systems and structures we have designed to conceive and communicate the Gospel of Jesus?
DAVE >>> For years, our churches and specialized ministries have functioned like greenhouses. In the greenhouse you have similar routines, controlled environments to produce the same kind of product – good flowers! And that is a very good thing! But today’s reality can’t compare to a greenhouse. It’s more like an open field. In the open field you don’t have much control. But there are wildflowers thriving in the midst of uncontrollable circumstances (wind, rain, wildlife.) In the open field, the flower that takes over is the dandelion. Each dandelion scatters hundreds of seeds and takes over the field. We need millions of believers to be envisioned, equipped and empowered to become like “dandelions” – where the seeds are gospel conversations. We need new capacity and skill to communicate the gospel through meaningful conversations – in the open, chaotic fields of post-modern and city ministry. That way we can reach the hundreds of millions who don’t know the truth.
All of this means that it is difficult to talk graciously and calmly as we claim that absolute truth exists in the Gospel of Jesus. We need to converse w/ understanding, patience & wisdom. There is a path forward. There are ways to appropriately engage others in significant gospel conversations, while navigating cultural resistance & dealing w/ these barriers.
We know that most unchurched people have little desire to attend a church and generally look at us with skepticism or cynicism, but our deepest values – if perceived and experienced by the non-believer – can create pathways to know them and have respectful dialogue over the gospel. Our research shows that practically all people, along the spectrum of responses, have a positive view of Christian values and are open to engagement around purpose and community. If we became a source of hope amidst the brokenness of our communities, they’d see the values of Jesus Christ and be more open to His gospel.
Values, Purpose, and Community are the leading ethos/character of the two youngest generations in America, who represent the largest cohorts when you break population down by age. Millennials and GenZ also represent those who are farthest away from a Biblical worldview.
As we think about the people in our city/audience today we must understand those farthest away from a biblical worldview.
We’re finding that people raised in the greenhouse (mentioned earlier), like some plants, do not re-pot well when they move out into the city and into post-truth culture. Greenhouse creations are not surviving well outside the greenhouse.
We’ve got to learn that it’s more about moments with people, not events in our greenhouse. It’s about US, not us-them. And not YOU join US. We join you on your spiritual journey. We must be like the dandelion.
We long to see Christians mobilized – to put their faith into love-in-action realizing the voice of the gospel is important (Jn 10:16, 17:20-24 Rom 10:9-17). It’s about understanding people and showing them Jesus in an authentic way – openly, graciously, wisely. And caring for the needs of those in the city.
It’s about Meaningful Conversations. Conversations Shape our Journeys. It’s about us. The art in any conversation is not in the greatness of ideas, but in finding connection. If we want to find common ground, we must first listen and understand (this regards the Imago Dei we share). Form connections regardless of differing views – freely, with respect we share our ideas, too. They, too, are formed in the Imago Dei - we share it.
We have a problem to solve. Christianity is neither AUTHENTIC nor RELEVANT to those who don’t follow. Christians are talking to people about their own beliefs w/o understanding or caring what another believes. Sure, we do have truths that need to be embraced and believed! There’s so much at stake! But our truth will land BETTER if we appreciate their journey.
Every truth told (w/o listening, understanding) is like a brick in a growing wall. A sound barrier that prevents either side from hearing each other. We each think that it’s the other person’s responsibility to tear it down. If “telling” adds a brick, a conversation loosens one. The more conversations (in PCS lifestyle) we foster, the smaller the wall becomes.
Our ambition is to initiate a meaningful conversation with every human being on this planet. And be like the dandelion.
Why? Because more meaningful conversations increase opportunities for relationships and for significant spiritual, gospel conversations.
"When thinking of the missional gap between us -
His church and the Great Commission He left for us - what burdens us?"
DAVE >>> The Missional Gap -
Consider these startling statistics. There are 8 billion people on our planet with approximately 6,500 languages being spoken. According to WorldData.Info, “in the U.S. alone, over 300 different languages are spoken about 170 of which originated in the Americas.” There are 9,800 people groups in the world. It is estimated that 3.2 billion people live in the people groups considered “unreached” or “least reached.” (Global Frontiers Mission (GFM) puts it at 3.37 billion.)
Consider these stats deeply. Jesus has commissioned us as His Church with the responsibility of carrying his gospel forward to the ends of the earth. These UPGs (Unreached People Groups) live in parts of the world where Jesus is mostly unknown and relatively few (compared with the number of Christian workers in “reached” areas) among the church are there making Him known. Of the 8 billion, 2 to 3 billion of them have never heard of Christ.
How can we imagine the size of that global crowd who’ve never heard the gospel?
Check this out. If you were to line up 2 billion people one meter apart from each other that would be a very long line. How long? Imagine you and me getting in a car and we began to drive from the first of those two billion to the very last. Imagine that - one very long line! If we were to drive ten hours a day at 50 miles per hour, guess how long would it take to get to the end of that line? Sadly…astonishingly, it would take us over seven years to just drive that line. We’d be zipping by people so fast we could not even see their faces or make eye contact. Seven+ years!
The Lostness of the USA
The USA ranks 5th with the most non-Christians in the world (refer to chart) This is largely unknown, and unacted upon.
- China -1,280,848,731
- India - 1,247,437,091
- Indonesia - 227,045,412
- Pakistan - 185,521,481
- USA - 168,800,000
- Bangladesh - 160,340,599
"Something has to change."
PHIL >>> Most pastors/leaders read that four-word sentence and think “new programs." How does an apolstolic leader think differently? And why does that produce a change in how the congregation/ministry leadership thinks differently toward a new and different future?
DAVE >>> Culture reigns, not words, not processes, not systems, not strategies - not even great preaching. Culture is what you truly value, believe, and hold dear. It influences everything we do - how we learn, what we emphasize, how we spend our time - really, all of our normative behaviors.
Jean-Paul Sarte once said, “You are your life, and nothing else.” We can say we believe in something, but we really only believe that which activates us. Kingdom leaders need to pay attention to the culture they have created by their lived values, not their strategies, or sermons, or processes.
We need a 3 + 1 focus in the Church: where we focus on the Lost, the Follower of Jesus - emphasizing being a believer is not the same as being a disciple of Jesus, where the Leader is mobilized to multiply his/her life. So we need to focus on 3 audiences and 1 overarching metric. 1) connect those far from God to Jesus (the Lost); 2) We help every follower of Jesus normalize sharing the Gospel and making disciples (helping them become CoJourners; journey partners); 3) We partner with pastors, missional leaders and church-planters (the Mobilizer) - all to increase capacity and confidence to… 4) +1 multiply faith communities (Multiply).
"In gospel movements we value the spectrum of responses to the needs of others:
“Giving a man a fish” (a charitable response);
“Teaching a man how to fish” (a developmental response —committed to relationships and long-term solutions); and
“Creating a fishing business” (a response that leads to empowerment, sustainability and high impact)."
PHIL >>> How could this perspective radically change our discipleship mind-set and our evangelism outreach?
DAVE >>> There are the five fundamentals of a disciple-making culture:
- Move to those far from God - The first step in the disciple-making process is the same step that Jesus first took. He thought of us and came missionally. Jesus’ first disciples were invited into a relationship— “come and see” (John 1:39). For people to catch on—to know Jesus, live for Him and commit to His cause—the lost ones around us must see the Gospel incarnated consistently in the lives of others.
- A relationship of love and influence - To be lifted to the heights of living for the Lord and selflessly living to serve the cause of Christ, we must bring near to each individual a life-inspiring model of the Christian life.
- What is taught is modeled, who is taught is coached - Learning without dialogue or model was not Jesus’ method. The one teaching should be modeling what is taught. It is to be seen and heard from up close. Time must be spent out in the harvest fields, outside the walls of church – where people live, work, learn and play.
- Faith is challenged, and responsibility is entrusted - A disciple-maker knows the importance of taking faith steps, and so a leader prepares, challenges, and accompanies others in the mission.
- Engage broadly the Church, the Kingdom, the Community - As they are established in the faith, all believers need ongoing fellowship and accountability in community with the wider Body of Christ.
May these disciple-making essentials saturate all relationships in the church.
Four Kinds of Partnerships
Type 1: Blessing
Type 2: Conversation and Prayer
Type 3: Cooperation/Resourcing
Type 4: High-Level Collaboration
PHIL >>> Partnering is essential for every leader and every ministry: local church or serving organization, leadership team or small group, community, or city focus. What is the benefit of recognizing different ways to shape or design a partnership?
DAVE >>> In John 17, Jesus prays his longest prayer and much of it centers on His longing for unity among those He sends to expand His Kingdom. Let’s find out how we might “put a smile on Jesus’ face by working together.”
So, let’s pray together, and get to know each other.
- What is the Lord doing in your ministry?
- Can I share what God is doing in mine?
- Is there anything we could do together?
- What are you dreaming God would do through you, that might be accelerated in partnering together?
"The responsibilities of an apostolic leader
revolve around three aspects of life:
a leader’s heart, the mission field, and the team."
PHIL >>> Help us reassess how to think about these critical areas:
DAVE >>> Unwavering Resolve looks at Paul’s life and ministry to identify a job description for apostolic leaders - the ongoing responsibilities they are to pursue.
Those responsibilities fall into three categories - matters of the heart (a vertical relationship with God), the mission field (forward motion towards those who don’t yet know Jesus), and teams and teamwork (the horizontal connection to your fellow laborers).
- Matters of the Heart (Vertical): First and foremost, you are a follower of Jesus Christ. The most important thing in terms of your mission is your heart - walking humbly with Jesus, fully embracing His Word and walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. In this section we will focus on the heart of a spiritual leader. After all, your heart is the spring from which the ministry’s direction, team culture and mission fruitfulness are determined.
- The Mission Field (Forward): Apostolic leaders are pioneers - taking the gospel into missional frontiers. In this section we focus on your role in the life and leadership of the church - advancing Jesus’ mission - whether it be globally, regionally, or locally.
- Teams and Teamwork (Horizontal): Apostolic leaders lead with a trusted team—a team that demonstrates a high level of execution, spiritual dependence, is biblically-centered and is accountable to each other. Mission-focused teams are to experience strong community and friendship. A team can absorb an enormous number of missteps in the ebb and flow of ministry as long as the direction remains clear and compelling. In this section we face the challenge of maturing your team - which is to keep your youthful passion and entrepreneurial zeal without confusion, vagueness and disorder.
Overall, this guidebook will:
- improve your concentration on the mission by focusing on your job in apostolic ministry
- inspire your personal development through principled reminders and story
- keep the vision of advancing the mission of Jesus before you
"I’d encourage you to use this as a field guide. Turn to this guide…
… for inspiration … for reminders … for reflection … for encouragement"
PHIL >>> Give us one more insight to help us lead in our context with an engaging apostolic perspective.
DAVE >>> I wrote the book… to encourage the church, its leaders, and its mission… and younger leaders - to discover - develop and deploy them.
This book is laid out as a guidebook for missional leaders and their teams - anyone with a missional bent, including church-planters, mobilizers, and outreach leaders (denominational/network leaders, missionaries and local church mission teams).
Missional leaders need ... encouragement to press on and stay focused.
Church leaders need ...to gain missional hope as they seek to multiply the church amidst a fractured, transitory culture & a growing population of the lost.
I share a summary of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the years for fruitful mission and effective leadership. AND to remind the Church of the missional gap - between where gospel communities and churches are and where they do not exist. They can mobilize the church to mend that gap.
Be assured that this guide will hold relevance to broader audiences:
- Whenever the Word of God is shared, the Holy Spirit illuminates its meaning to give us understanding.
- The leadership principles and pastoral counsel given throughout this book will be helpful for every leader in the church.
"May I encourage you to pray—turning your thoughts and musings into prayers
offered to God that express both your desire to follow His lead
and your dependence on Him for healthy application?"
PHIL >>> Dave, please write a prayer we can offer to God, asking-seeking-knocking for the Spirit to guide us in resetting the functions of the Church and for unwavering resolve to pursue that challenge.
DAVE >>> “I speak the name of Jesus, Lion of Judah, the One who is majestic, who protects His church as they follow His commands, the Lion who leads and attacks with power. I speak His name over the harvest fields we enter. I agree with you that you have decided to bless your people and honor your promises bountifully as we obey you to go forward. I gladly submit to and use your authority to go, to cast out the enemy – to advance the Kingdom of Jesus over all darkness! You will fight, Warrior Lion! You will lead us to victory over the gates of hell!”
For more information, visit www.churchmovements.com
- Book - https://crustore.org/product/unwavering-resolve/
- Ebook - https://crustore.org/product/unwavering-resolve-e-book/
Executive Director I Church Movements, Cru