Last week our church met with Alan Scotland. He had just returned from Thailand and mentioned how micro-industries were being set up to save children from prostitution. Alan works as an apostle and heads up Lifelink International our little network of churches.
Alan discussed with us the role of the apostle and the apostolic ministry. He looked at Ephesians 4 which talks about the ministries of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers which he saw all working together in relationship to produce growth - each ministry being like a different finger of a hand. He talked about how apostles worked together in what he called ‘apostolic companies’. These weren’t just teams working on job but companions who were also friends.
He showed that an apostle wasn’t necessarily a church planter but someone who was sent by God. This might involve pioneering but it might also involve building up the church. Alan himself spends a lot of his time in the background supporting church leaders. Having discussed this tension he went on to explain how the church itself should be apostolic. The true church is a church sent by God on a mission. ‘This mission is glocal’, he said, ‘both local and global at the same time’, as in the HSBC slogan ‘The World's Local Bank’
Alan talked about the diversity of the early apostles and discussed how today each church, he works alongside as an apostle, is unique. He mentioned Jonathon Sax’s book on diversity The Dignity of Difference and discussed how he saw this diversity in the church as being like a family – messy at times. And though it might involve fights and fall outs – it certainly did in the book of Acts – there is a great sense of purpose as we all work together for God.
UPDATE: It is worth checking out the account of Alan's recent visit to Syria with the Awareness Foundation whose work involve dialogue between Christians and Muslims. In the video Alan makes is an impassioned plea for peace in the Middle East.