What Is Apostolic Oversight?
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 the function of a "father". Seeing the church as a father would see his own children.
Operating in the unconditional love, care and and support, with the intention of training his children to be men and women of God, who would one day step into the role of fathering.
As we know, caring for children can be tiring work. Paul said; You remember brethren, our labor and toil, laboring day and night (1 Thess. 2:9).
True apostles will faithfully proclaim “The Gospel of God" without alteration or substitution, preparing the next generation to do the same.
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 have come to realize that there are some basic commitments a pastor and local church need to make to fully benefit from apostolic oversight:
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
Where to begin... How can you as a minister, church or ministry, join this type of New Testiment Fellowship?
First, set aside a time to meet with the overseer or attend services that SOGI may conduct throughout the year. This will provide and opportunity:
To increase vision
To build relationships
To encourage fellowship
To receive teaching and ministry
To connect with a global vision
To be personally strengthened and refreshed
Secondly, participate financially - One of the signs that a church is committed to SOGI is regular financial support. As an apostolic ministry we believe that every participating church and ministry should be giving consistently.
Jesus taught that one of the evidences that people were receiving the Word of God was their willingness to support the messengers financially (Matthew 10:5-14).
We are cautious as an apostolic ministry regarding the subject of finances. We know there is much confusion and abuse in this area in the body of Christ.
We believe the laborer is worthy of his wages (1 Tim.5: 18) and that churches receiving ministry from the apostolic ministry should financially support the ministry.
As an International Ministry that is committed to reaching the nations, there are many things that need to be done that will require financial support.
We need to develop materials that are translated into different languages to minister to the nations.
We need to develop materials that can be used by SOGI churches for the discipline and training of people in the local church.
We need to provide for administrative expenses including; office expenses, printing costs, mailing costs, web site maintenance, and hosting the national conference.
Our desire as an International Ministry is to be a resource center that will be able to provide support for local churches both here and abroad. Overseas Churches desperately need our support. All of this requires finances.
Practical Steps for Entering SOGI
Begin to build a relationship with members of the SOGI ministry.
Talk to your leaders and the church about having apostolic oversight.
Have someone from SOGI come and teach on apostolic oversight.
Pray and ask God for insight concerning being under Apostolic covering.
Fill out, and submit an application.
Code of Ethics
It is a requirement that every member of SOGI accept and adhere to the following ministerial ethics:
Each member has a right to their own style and personality as they follow Christ.
To conduct ones affairs in: morals, finances, and business relations with a high degree of Christian integrity.
To maintain a teachable spirit towards the other leaders of the Fellowship.
To speak in a respectful and edifying manner where other members of the Fellowship are concerned.
To abstain, directly or indirectly, in any issue that would cause a church split.
To not sow seeds of discord among the body by gossip, rumors and opinionated criticism.
To abstain from the consumption or use of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs.
To pursue a Christian relationship with other members of the Fellowship.
To respect the rights of others and allow them to be different, as long as their actions comply with the written Word of God.
To support and give your loyalty to any pastor under which you may serve.
To deal justly as the Scriptures command concerning all areas of fellowship, relationships, unity and brotherly love.
To follow the procedure as commanded in the Scriptures when faced with a brother or sister who is in violation of these ethics or any other Biblical moral standard.
To agree to adhere to our statement of faith and ministerial Ethics.