After a new Pope of the Roman Catholic Church is elected, he goes into a small red room next to the Sistine Chapel known as the “Room of Tears.” It got this name because of the deep emotion expressed by newly elected Popes once they receive this new and heavy apostolic mantle.
No true apostle in the church is self-appointed. All apostolic leaders, and there are many around the world today, are recognized (formally or informally) by the network of churches with which they associate. And all true apostles feel the heavy weight of this roll. True apostles respond with both deep gratitude and deep grieving⏤deep gratitude for the high honor that it is and deep grieving because of the awareness of the suffering and self-sacrifice involved.
Paul was known as the apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 1:5; 11:13, Galatians 2:8). He wrote to the church in Ephesus:
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.Ephesians 2:19-20
The first church was built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. If the church wants to continue to have a solid foundation, it needs to be built upon the writings of the original apostles (the New Testament) and the writings of the original prophets (the Old Testament).
In addition to this, each floor in the temple that is the Church needs new apostles and new prophets to lead. These apostolic and prophetic leaders don’t create a new foundation; our foundation has already been established and our Chief Cornerstone is set. What the new apostles and prophets do for each generation of the Church is create a solid floor for the next level, the new story, to be built.
The apostle Paul said it this way:
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.Ephesians 4:11-13
The problem with the modern American church is that most of it only recognizes the need for three of these offices. We celebrate the office of the evangelist in people like Billy Graham and Ravi Zacharias. We celebrate the office of the teacher in people like Tim Keller, Dallas Willard, N.T. Wright and C.S. Lewis. We celebrate the office of the pastor in people like Henri Nouwen, Philip Yancey, Eugene Peterson, and Brennan Manning.
But the floor beams of the Church in this generation are warping and bending because we’ve rejected the biblical mandate to have apostles and prophets leading the way. We’re asking pastors to act like apostles and wonder why it doesn’t work out, why they get burnt out and morally compromised. We’re asking teachers to lead us into the future like prophets and wonder why we get stale doctrine instead of fresh vision.
It’s time for the Church to recognize apostolic and prophetic anointings on people’s lives just as we do with pastors, teachers and evangelists. And when those people are faithful with their anointing, we need to honor them as God moves them into the office of apostle and prophet, guiding and leading whole movements of churches.