13 May Paul Planted a Multi-Site Church
Is there any legalism, tradition, or self-righteousness that causes you to let man-made religion creep into your relationship with God?
Galatians 1:1-2 – Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia…
In recent years, there has been an explosion of multi-site churches under the leadership of one pastor. What’s kind of funny is the debates that ensue as to whether or not this phenomenon is biblical. In our study of Galatians, we learn in the opening lines that the church that planted in Galatia was one church meeting as churches in multiple locations. This is why he sent one letter to “the churches”.
Behind multi-site churches, networks, and denominations is usually someone with the gift of “apostle”. In the Bible, there are two kinds of apostles. The office of Apostle is limited to twelve men (sometimes just called “the twelve”) who were witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus and chosen by Him (Acts 1:22). In this sense, we do not have Apostles today. The spiritual gift of apostle does continue today. The term apostle also applies, in a secondary sense, to people such as Barnabas, Apollos and Sosthenes, Andronicus and Junia, James, and Silas and Timothy.
They, like apostles today, were gifted individuals usually sent out to move from place to place in order to begin and establish local churches and/or work across multiple churches aiding shepherds and fighting wolves. They are those with apostolic gifting, leaders of leaders, pastors of pastors, and translocal leaders who establish local church leadership and get involved when things get out of hand. This is precisely what Paul is doing in Galatians as the local leadership had either been led astray or was losing the war against false teachers.
The Bible often speaks of the church in terms such as a household of God and a family. In addition to the heavenly Father, churches also have apostolic fathers. This is what the Bible says about Paul:
- In 1 Corinthians 4:15, Paul says, “though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
- In 1 Thessalonians 2:11, he says he was “like a father with his children.”
- In Philemon 1:10, Paul says, “I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment.”
- In 1 Timothy 1:2, Paul writes to “Timothy, my true child in the faith.”
- In Titus 1:4, Paul writes to “Titus, my true child in a common faith.”
As spiritual fathers, apostolic leaders are used by God to 1) give spiritual birth, 2) protect, 3) nourish, 4) instruct, 5) correct, and 6) bless. In a day when there is a crisis of fatherlessness, God uses spiritual fathers with apostolic gifting and elder qualifications to help fill that lack. This also explains why in the New Testament, Paul and John speak to their converts and followers as spiritual “children.”
Who do you look to as a spiritual mother or father?
- 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11
- Acts 14:3–4, 14
- 1 Cor. 4:6–9
- Rom. 16:7
- Gal. 1:19
- 1 Thess. 1:1; 2:6
- Acts 13:3–4
- Gal. 6:10; Eph. 2:19
- Gal. 4:19; 1 John 2:1; 3:18