The Lord is preparing to call forth the “Apollos Church.” The Apollos church are those groups and churches who have a love for God's Word and an enthusiasm for the things of God, yet have not experienced a powerful touch of God's presence. These people are not resistant to what God is doing, they are simply unfamiliar. God is looking for wise people who will reach out to these individuals and churches who are ready to embrace what God is doing, but simply need someone to shepherd their first steps.
In Acts 18 Priscilla and Aquila encountered a man named Apollos who loved God and His Word and was very enthusiastic. They saw that in the midst of his love for God's Word and his enthusiasm, that Apollos lacked a power encounter with the Spirit.
“24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.”
Priscilla and Aquila were wise. They opened their home to Apollos and loved him. They became vulnerable and took the first step. In this environment of love, Apollos had an encounter with the Holy Spirit that changed everything in his life. A reading of I Corinthians will reveal the great impact Apollos would have on the Early Church.
There is also a current application of the story of Apollos. As I read through this text the Lord spoke to me and said that He was about to open doors across denominational and relational lines and call forth the Apollos churches, including those churches and denominations who were once known to have moved in the power of the Spirit, but of late have moved away from such an experience. If we are to reach the Apollos Church, and those people who make up these groups, God will ask something more from us. God will ask us to think through and pray about how to wisely navigate this time in Church history.
Recently, I spoke with a group of pastors and suggested some words of direction to help them wisely navigate those times when God's Spirit is being poured out in new and unusual ways.
Discerning Patterns versus Molds
Many hungry people will go and experience the fullness of what God is doing elsewhere and then come back to their place of ministry and try to press others into their mold of personal experience. The results of aborted revival attempts attest to the lack of wisdom in this approach.
Instead, God is calling us to lead by patterns. Each life and ministry has a unique pattern God has assigned to them. When we experience a deeper work of God in our lives, we would be wise to bring back those experiences as new cloth and thread and begin to weave a new tapestry into the pattern God has uniquely assigned for each life and ministry.
Lead by Invitation, not by Confrontation.
In a particular season of ministry God called me to repent of frustration. I was teaching and said something out of frustration wanting people to get on board with what God was doing. I had couched a challenge with a either/or phrase instead of an invitation, causing unnecessary reaction and pain.
In tears, I repented and asked God to change me before I demanded change in others. Invitation gives people time to process what is before them. In some instances confrontation may distance us from the very people God has called us to love.
Discerning the Fire of God and the Strange Fire of Hell
People have been created to have deep experiences with God. Fear has so gripped some people that their fear of the false has become a barrier to the real.
In Leviticus 10, two priests brought strange fire to the altar of God and they died for their error. The fire of God was to have been used to ignite the Temple fires. Strange fire came from a different source than God. Some believe the priests brought fire from their homes, instead of from the altar of God, to ignite the Temple fires. It seemed logical, but it proved fatal.
“How can you tell the difference between the fire of God and strange fire? The answer is simple, you can't - initially. Like the wheat and the tares that grow up together, the fruit will be the proof. The fruit of the fire will bear witness to the author of the fire. Discern the best you can, then trust. God will reveal what is true and false. God's ability to lead us into truth is greater than hell's ability to lead us into error.
Dealing with Resistance
Some who appear resistant to the things of God are not resistant. They simply need time to process what they see God doing in you. People need time to process change. In every season of change there will be those who simply cannot continue the journey with us. Those percentages are small. What is sad is that sometimes we lose a higher percentage of that small group for the lack of wisdom on our part. People need to have someone stop along the journey and explain what is happening. John Wimber, in the early days of the Vineyard movement, was known for this wisdom. He stopped and explained what God was doing. Even those initially fearful eventually came on board because someone was shepherding them.
The Apollos part of the church will be powerful when she is ignited. God is searching for wise people who will take the Apollos church into their homes and introduce them to something new from God.