The Translocal Church

-by Grant Crawford. Notes from NCF Church’s weekly staff meeting compiled by S. Mahabeer

How a local church and an apostolic team work together

The following article describes how having an apostolic team minister to a church is different from having a guest speaker.

We can find three structures of church in the Bible:

  1. The universal church, meaning Christians all around the world.
  2. The local church, referring to the church we are a part of locally.
  3. The trans-local church, a collection of [apostolic] Christians that trans- locally work between churches, ministering to them through their various apostolic gifts.

Mission trips are another form of being trans-local. We may not be going as apostles or prophets, but facilitating relationship and connectedness is equally important.

What are apostolic teams?

The apostle Paul himself was trans-local and traveled with different groups of people. Together, they visited other churches, encouraging and ministering to their fellow Christians through their apostolic gifts.

The local churches in the Bible related to apostolic teams. Antioch was born in a raw and rough state and when the church in Jerusalem heard about the situation, they sent Barnabas to help them. The apostolic team Barnabas brought along, which the apostle Paul was a part of, came alongside the local church and built into its’ very foundations and taught and prophesied. Once Paul and Barnabas were finished there, they moved on to plant another church.

What you see here is not local churches just working in isolation but working together with apostolic teams.

When we talk about apostolic teams, we are referring to people who are gifted as pastors, prophets, apostles, evangelists, teachers and preachers.

A few concepts we have learned over 40 years when it comes to relating with apostolic teams.

As a local church, we are governed by a local eldership team. They, not the apostolic team, govern us in what we preach and teach, our finances and the direction our local church is heading into. However, in this, we are not isolated or independent, we have connected ourselves to an apostolic team.

Here are some indicators as to how these relationships work:

1. We trust our apostolic teams 

The apostolic team doesn’t just show up unannounced, but come in response to an invitation we extend to them. This invitation goes out because we trust them and the apostolic gifts they manifest.

Trust is built through relationship, which means the people we invite into our church family aren’t strangers to us. Every person we invite into our house is someone we know, relate to and trust.

Sometimes we get people in to speak, and, although they may not have anything profound to say, it is who they are that is a far greater gift to us than anything they could have said.

People impart just as much as who they are, as they impart what they say.

2. Apostolic gifts make no one a “superstar”

We understand the gifting has been placed on people, but that these gifts neither become their “titles” nor do they get elevated to the status of “superstars”.

3. Different relationships in an apostolic team
  • Friendships:
    Sometimes we relate to some people on the team as friends. They may not ever preach at our church or partner with us in anything, but act exclusively as our friends. It is a good thing to have good and wholesome friendships, because when facing a crisis, it is our friends we turn to for advice and support.
  • Governance:
    There are a select few men on our apostolic team that we give the liberty to speak into the direction of our local church. If we have a grave decision to make, we turn to these men who act as our governmental “bouncing ball”. We don’t partner with them for their preaching but for their leadership.
  • Psalmists, Prophets, Evangelists…
    There are others, who minister through the apostolic gifts of songwriting, prophesying or evangelizing, for example.
4. Apostolic teams come for a period of time

When an apostolic team comes, we receive them and the gifts they bring, we build into our relationships, and after they have spent some time with us and ministered to us, they leave again to go invest into another church.

 5. Apostolic teams and the local church journey together

We train together, we go on mission together, plant churches together, we resource together and we go on apostolic journeys together.

 6. Apostolic teams and the local church have different levels of relationship

We partner together on friendship level, a governmental one, on a ministry gift level and on a partnership level.

Because we as a local church have submitted ourselves to our apostolic team and work together with them, we have seen amazing doors of opportunity open up for us.

In conclusion, it is important for us as a local church to not isolate ourselves and live independently from our extended church family, but to connect ourselves trans-locally with other churches which largely is facilitated by apostolic teams.





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