It will be easier to see what apostolic oversight is by first stating what it is not. In 1 Thessalonians 2:1 the apostle Paul said; our coming to you was not in vain. The word "vain" expresses the hollowness of anything; Paul was saying their work was not void of content or power. This word could also be translated "empty-handed.” Paul was saying; we didn't come to take something away from you but to bring you something. This is the heart of apostolic oversight. It has nothing to do with what the apostle "receives" from the church; it has everything to do with what apostolic oversight brings to the church.
Is not a means for personal kingdom building. The issue is not quantity - "How many churches do you have in your network?" The issue is the quality of care for the local church and love for the saints.
Is not about money, it is not "a pretext for greed " (1Thess. 2:5). Paul denies that he ever used his ministry as a secret means of enriching himself. Apostolic oversight is not multi-level marketing for church planters where all resources work their way to the top.
Is not about human glory; "I'm Apostle so and so". Paul said; we have never sought honor from men, from you or from anybody else (1Thess. 2:6). Paul here is repudiating personal ambition. Paul never used his preaching to gain the honor, recognition and approval that men give.
Is not micro-managing the church. Paul actually did have authority, but he never abused it. Even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority (1Thess. 2:6). The only authority that exists in the church is Christ's authority. True apostles are not authoritarian or controlling. Authority is always to be used for the benefit of those under it, never for the personal benefit of those exercising it.
True apostolic oversight has to do with being a "father" to the church. Seeing the church as a father sees his children, intent on training his children according to their individual needs. Caring for children is tiring work. Paul said; You remember brethren, our labor and toil, laboring day and night (1 Thess. 2:9). True apostles faithfully proclaim “The Gospel of God" without alteration or substitution.
Apostolic oversight is foundational. Paul said; I have laid a foundation and another builds on it (1 Cor. 3:10). The foundation of a building is out of sight, but it is the key to stability and the growth of the structure built on it. Many churches today have faulty foundations and as a result they continually struggle with the same problems. Jesus Christ himself is the Chief Cornerstone of the foundation (Eph. 2:20). Everything the church is and does has to be rightly related to Christ, because the church belongs to Him.
It is part of New Testament Christianity that churches are to be built up, equipped and matured through ongoing relationship with five-fold ministry. While in the first century this was done primarily through relationship with apostles who initially founded the churches, today many churches are discovering the importance of relating to apostles who may not have pioneered the church, yet provide a rich source of wisdom and strength through ongoing relationship. This is accomplished when a church moves beyond merely having fellowship and receiving ministry from apostles, into the place of identifying, recognizing and receiving oversight from an apostolic ministry. This can only occur where a relationship of trust has been established between a church and an apostolic ministry. Such a relationship takes time to establish.
The Benefits of Apostolic Covering
There is no reason for a church to have an apostolic covering if the church doesn't benefit from the relationship. If the only one receiving benefits is the apostle, something is wrong. Following are some areas that a church and its leaders should benefit from apostolic covering:
Counsel - In vision, helping to define it, refine it and articulate it. In doctrine, to help deal with doctrinal issues confronting a church or causing division in the church. In church discipline, this is especially helpful in difficult cases to avoid personal attacks against leadership when a member needs discipline.
Protection - This is to provide an atmosphere of safety and security for both the pastor and the people. To protect the people- if a leader falls into error or sin or becomes dictatorial, the congregation knows they have someone to appeal to, helping to avoid a church split. To protect the pastor - At times the Pastor needs someone to speak on his behalf. He needs protection against false accusations.
Accountability - Having apostolic covering gives the pastor someone to be accountable to, someone to talk to, relate to and just sound off to.
Confirmation - Apostolic covering can be used to confirm and ordain elders and other 5-fold gifts in the church. Having someone else to interview and confirm candidates for ministry can provide an objective view that is often missing in independent churches.
Encouragement - Visits by apostolic covering can bring encouragement and blessing to a local church.
Commitment - Apostolic covering doesn't work unless there is a level of commitment by a pastor and congregation. Every pastor knows the value and importance of commitment in the local church. A level of commitment is needed if you're going to entrust someone with ministry responsibility in the local church.
As an apostolic network we would like to share what apostolic minsitry means to us.
Shepherds Of Grace International, is an Apostolic ministry, which means:
We are called by God to live a separated and consecrated life. Romans 1:1, Paul describes himself as a "...bond-servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God".
We are called to be an Apostolic Father, planting and establishing churches world-wide and developing responsible evangelistic ministry. The Word of God tells us in 1 Corinthians 4:15, "For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers...", an apostolic father will produce mature sons and daughters who are ready to carry a high level of anointing in preaching, ministry, and integrity.
We are "kingdom minded", bringing Godly believers together, from every tribe and nation, for the purpose of the great commission. Reaching The World For Christ and training them to discover their potential, plan, and purpose in life; while helping them to identify and step into their ministry.
We do not seek a sign, but expect signs and wonders to follow an apostolic ministry. "Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds." 2 Corinthians 12:12
We will conduct ministry in the humility that Paul the Apostle demonstrated in 1 Corinthians 15:9, when he said, "For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle...".
We are servants of the most high God, providing a Spiritual Covering, with the understanding that leadership is not title or position, but rather relationship, responsibility, and empowering others. (1 Peter 5)
We do not think ourselves better than another, but we are committed to growing closer to Christ daily. Studying to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth, being a doer of the Word, making the most of every opportunity as we actively participate in the great commission.
With this definition of "apostolic ministry", Shepherds Of Grace International has a heart to go to the places that many other’s do not go… to the places where there is no ministry, or very few established ministries in operation. Reaching the unreached people groups with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We provide a Spiritual Covering for Pastors, Churches, and other outreach ministries. Functioning together through Evangelism, Leadership Conferences, Church Planting and Short-term Mission efforts.
We are not a Denomination, but rather a Fellowship. For individuals that want to join the SOGI family and meet the requirements, we provide ministerial credentials. Those becoming licensed and ordained with SOGI will recieve an International Ordination. Those who are called to missionary work will recieve an International Missionary Ordination.
If you would like to come under the Spiritual Covering of SOGI, partner with us in ministry, or recieve an International Ordination... send your request to:
Shepherds Of Grace International
P.O. Box 5336
Aiken, South Carolina, 29804