"God's Agenda" by Ern Baxter - it's arrived!
Much thanks to Amazon and to Gavin for putting me on the trail of this awesome book. As it is Ern, I put most of my day on hold and have been reading it intensely! I was particularly interested in some detailed points he made on Ephesians 4 Ministries. I always knew he believed in all of them continuing today - however it is always exciting when one's heroes expound on their beliefs! Here is what he had to say:
"So the apostle is one who goes. He's mobile. The prophet is also one who goes. He is mobile because he should be with the apostle. Let me just drop this in your head - I believe in prophecy. In fact I believe in prophecy so strongly that I grieve over its misuse. This whole age is to be marked by prophecy! Both the Old and the New Testament declare, "and your sons and daughters shall prophesy" (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17). This is a prophetic age and we have all kinds of prophets around the country who feel that there needs to be a prophetic movement.
We don't need a prophetic movement. We don't need an evangelistic movement. We don't need an apostolic movement. We don't need a pastor-teacher movement. What we need is a God-movement.
Prophets will never function normally without the oversight of apostles. Whenever you have prophets cooperating to become something in themselves, they are violating God's very clear-cut order. "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets ...". The apostles Paul didn't say first and secondarily just to waste words. He was saying, "This is the order".
What about the evangelists? The evangelist is a "goer" too. He is to go into all the world and preach the evangel, the good news. The Bible doesn't say that the evangelist is to go into all the churches and hold campaigns. The evangelist belongs in the world. The apostle, prophet and evangelist are church planters.
How do these apostolic teams work? First they go into a virgin area. If an evangelist understands his job right, he will travel with an apostle and a prophet. He'll blast the stones out of the quarry and then he'll say to the apostle; "You build the house".
Apostles can be terribly... (I was going to say "boring") Why? Read the passages that talk about Paul going into the synagogue. One passage says; "And he went into the synagogue and spake boldly for the space of 3 months disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God" (Acts 19:8). Paul argued and debated with people hour after hour for three months! Apostles are long-winded. Apostles are not exciting people especially. Why? They have the most difficult job of building the house and putting it together.
An apostle is a master teacher. The apostle is the answer to God's construction intention in the earth. Now when the apostle, prophet and evangelist went into virgin territory - whereever it was, they planted churches. They did this in every place they went!
You will search the Scriptures in vain to find an apostolic company ever going back to the same place where they had planted a church to do the same work over again. If they went back to a city or a house church they went to encourage the Christians there, but never to plant it again. Why? Once the men plant a church then the second phase of evangelism sets in ... the body making an increase of itself. When the apostolic company in the Book of Acts left a city where they had planted a church, they left the city church in charge of elders".
I find this chapter very encouraging and amazingly prophetic in regards especially to the high quality teaching on Ephesians 4 Ministries that I have heard coming out of the ranks of Newfrontiers. I am suspicious that Dave Holden has read this book in light of his message on "Apostolic Mobility" at Brighton 2003 with Ern's particular use of Dave Holden's favourite word: "Mobile"! But more usefully I think both Ern and Dave Holden focus on the reason of Ephesians 4 Ministries, that often gets overlooked in the controversy and debate - that they are present to plant churches and take the gospel to the ends of the earth!