Ecclesia Eccumenical Apostolic Council

Church Growth Network

Apostolic Council Members

Apostle Eric Gilliard

Bishop Gregory Mullen

Apostle Nathaniel Smith

What is an Apostolic Council

{Drafted from Description By Dr. Stan DeKoven}

Amongst independent churches there is frequent criticism by other independents and denominational pastors regarding the apparent lack of accountability for pastors or Senior leaders in relationship to their churches or ministries.

This criticism, sometimes valid, is one that we are attempting to correct through the Ecclesia Eccumenical Network, by providing Council to our Presiding Prelate. This brief article is written to describe what the purpose of a Council is, what kinds of people should be a part of a Council, the structure of an Apostolic Council for a local church, and the blessings that will come to the local congregation once an Apostolic Council is in place giving relational oversight for a local church or ministry.

First let me describe the purpose of an Apostolic Council. The purpose of an Apostolic Council is to provide spiritual care by prayerfully giving necessary aid, comfort, instruction, guidance, protection, and where required corrective discipline to our Prelate as he receive vision for the Network. The precedence for this type of ministry can be found in II Timothy chapter 3:16 and 17 and is echoed in Acts Chapter 15. The purpose or the function of the Apostolic Council is to give counsel, advice and recommendations borne out of relationship to and for the Presiding Prelate and his/her staff.

Further, the Apostolic Council can be called upon to help settle internal conflicts or disputes amongst the congregation and/or the leadership of a local congregation.

Thus, one of the purposes of an Apostolic Council is to assist in reviewing questions that may arise regarding the morals, doctrines, ethics, or financial management of the local minister in charge of a congregation or ministry, assuming that the process of Matthew 18 has already been followed. Essentially, the Apostolic Council shall be called into function as an apostolic counselor, advisor and a facilitator of restoration if required. Further, in the event of the death, disability or resignation of the Presiding Prelate, the Apostolic Council then becomes a functional committee to determine who should take the place of the former Presiding Prelate. Essentially, they serve in apostolic spiritual authority to seek the face of God for the purpose of installing a Presiding Prelate.

Another primary purpose of the Apostolic Council has to do with insuring that the vision of the “house” is maintained from generation to generation. That is, we understand that churches and ministries are raised up in times and seasons to fulfill a purpose in the economy of God. Generally, the Holy Spirit gives vision, purpose and government to a local Senior minister who is then empowered by the Holy Spirit to raise up a church or ministry for the greater glory of God. That vision, assuming it is a vision from the Lord, needs to be maintained wherever possible and perpetuated from generation to generation.

Of course, visions are modified- they change over time- and thus a part of the ongoing ministry of a Council is to work with the Presiding Prelate to bring about those necessary changes.

About Government

What then is the structure, governmentally, of an Apostolic Council? The Apostolic Council has no innate power or authority as a legal or organizational entity except what is given to them through the Constitution and Bylaws of a local corporation and through the relationship they carry with the Presiding Prelate. Thus the Council is actually chosen, hopefully after a time of prayer and fasting, by the Presiding Prelate because there is a relationship of trust, which has been developed with the Presiding Prelate and the members of the Council, over time.

Any member of the Council therefore can be replaced or removed if it is deemed necessary by the Presiding Prelate unless its in the midst of the evaluative process having to do with a complaint against that Presiding Prelate. It is assumed however that such relationship will have been developed between the Presiding Prelate and the members of an Apostolic Council that these kinds of problems will rarely come to pass.

Another question is, how many members should there be in an Apostolic Council? Well, for safety sake it is recommended that a minimum of three and probably a maximum of five men /women of Senior ministry, who have fathering mantels upon their lives or apostolic/prophetic authority in their ministries should be a part of the Apostolic Council. More than five and it becomes too cumbersome and becomes a simple Apostolic board. Less than three lacks the amount for adequate accountability, to insure safety for the congregation and for the local ministry.

Of course, since ministries change, as do responsibilities in the Kingdom of God, it is assumed that the Apostolic Council may also change over time. Thus, it is necessary to ensure that a Council, barring some crisis or emergency in their ministry or life, is able to serve in oversight function for that Network for at least a two-year period. After a two-year assignment, if there is a need or a desire to make a change, it would be the responsibility of the Presiding Prelate and the Apostolic Council to make that change.

Compensation

Another function of the Apostolic Council, if agreed upon through the Constitution and Bylaws and the actual corporate board of a local ministry, is to set the Presiding Prelates salary, housing allowance, and benefits. In doing so, the Apostolic Council will look at the standards of financial packages within a geographical region, but their focus is to ensure that the man or woman of God in the place of Presiding Prelate is well cared for so they can fully function in their service to God. Part of the ministry of the Apostolic Council, therefore, is to encourage and exhort the people of God to be good stewards, and to ensure that the man or woman of God in Presiding Prelate office is well cared for, free to fulfill their purpose in God.

How is the Apostolic Council compensated for their time and energy? There are many strategies that can be used; certainly the laborer is worthy of hire. Not just for the local Presiding Prelate or the staff of a local congregation, but also those that labor with them in apostolic prophetic oversight. One of the primary biblical principles found in God’s Word is the principle of tithing. The Apostolic Council are five-fold ministry gifts, Ephesians 4:11-13, and therefore consist of those who should be (when the Network has grown to that point) supported by the Church at large (one can also see this in principle in 1st Corinthians 9, 9-11 and 13- 14, Galatians 6:6 and Hebrews 7:11). Thus, if it is the desire of the church to follow this biblical principle of tithing or generous giving, the giving should be equally distributed on a monthly basis to each member of the Council. Essentially, it’s not required that a specific formula be presented. The point of this is that those that are involved in giving oversight and assistance, personal counsel, prayer, and hopefully who are a part of periodic ministry into the life of the Body that they are giving oversight to should receive some sort of compensation and blessing from the local church.

When Problems Arise

But what happens if the Council must be called upon to deal with a problem within the local congregation? Well, first of all, the Council is not a judiciary function in that they’re not judge and jury over a pastor or over a congregation. They are friends of the pastor, friends of the church and their approach is simply to be a mediator; to help to bring understanding for the purposes of ensuring the healthy continuation of the local congregation. If in the rare case that there is a proven case of adultery, apostasy or such things as embezzlement, then the Council is called upon to act both on behalf of the church and on behalf of the spiritual leader. It is not an either/or. It is and/both. That is, the leader would be given needed time and opportunity to repent and make restitution as presented in Galatians 6:1 and 2. Further, the goal of Matthew 18:15-20, 1St Timothy 5:17-20 and 2nd Timothy 4:11 is not to remove the pastor where possible but to restore the pastor or Senior leader. However, if necessary, the leader may be placed on a paid sabbatical leave in order to recover fully from whatever transgressions they may have experienced. In reality, it may be in the best interest of the pastor or Senior leader, his or her family, and the congregation for a permanent change to take place, or in some cases it may be necessary to remove this Senior minister because they refuse to repent, to make restitution or to follow the general counsel given by the Council. Of course, if they are willing to repent, forgiveness should be granted, but restoration must be recognized not as an event that’s automatically done by fiat, but a process that may take months-even years- to accomplish. (For further scripture on this principle see Psalm 51, Luke 22: 21-34; Genesis 9:20-24, Hebrews 11:7 and James 5:19-20). Not all scriptures apply specifically, but the principles of the scriptures, which are to restore and to forgive, are presented.

As mentioned above, if the Presiding Prelate refuses to repent or make necessary restitution, they may need to be dismissed. This is a sad case that causes great distress for congregations. Anytime a Prelate, Bishop, Overseer, Senior Pastor or local minister violates the covenant that they have with God’s people as a spiritual leader, it will certainly rock the boat of that local congregation. That is why having an Apostolic Council for the Presiding Prelate who are able to bring stability and peace to a situation is so necessary. If the members of the Apostolic Council, in agreement believe that it’s necessary to remove a Presiding Prelate it needs to be done by a majority vote of the Council. All voting on the matter can be done by secret ballot, although in most cases it’s simply done through conversation, dialogue, and prayer, once all the facts and circumstances are known about the grievance that is presented.

Finally, in the event of death, disqualification or resignation of the Senior minister, the successor for that ministry is to be appointed by the Apostolic Council in conjunction with the local eldership or deacon board, however the local church is constituted. They will preside over a meeting of at least two of the Apostolic Council and a unanimous vote must be presented. Then the successor will assume all the authority of the Presiding Prelate subject to the restrictions that are presented within the constitution and bylaws of that local assembly.

Qualifications

Well, who then might qualify to be a part of this Apostolic Council? The Apostolic Council should be made up of qualified men and women, ministers of the gospel who are appointed by the pastor to serve on a form of a board. They are an extension of the pastor in the spiritual guidance of the local assembly. The overall spiritual oversight of the church is implemented by the elders under the direction of the pastor or Senior leader. The Council is available to assist the leader and serve the congregation in a multitude of tasks, which comprise spiritual oversight and ministry of the church. These tasks are to be assigned by the pastor and represent the extension of the leaders spiritual responsibilities. The oversight and general supervision of various programs can be done by the Apostolic Council but in general, they are primarily men and women of Senior ministry, of proven integrity, that will assist the local leader and the church to function according to God’s best within that local community. Thus, the elders or the Apostolic Council must qualify for that position in accordance with a variety of scriptures including 1stTimothy 3, 1-7, Titus 1, 5-9, 1st Corinthians 6, 19-20 and 10:33.

Essentially, they should be appointed after much prayer, having sought the guidance of the Lord by the local leadership, in agreement with the local eldership of the congregation. These men and women should be people of the highest integrity with proven apostolic, prophetic ministry, or at least who have been Senior ministers of their own ministry and are now available to be able to assist a local congregation to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

A Final Reminder

One of the greatest criticisms of independent churches is that they are just that, they are independent and thus they have little or no accountability. One way to ensure that proper accountability is found with adequate safety for the needs of both the local Senior minister and the congregation at large is to have an Apostolic Council. This is not the solution to all congregational needs but it certainly goes a long way toward providing both safety and accountability in a loving and positive way.