The Permanent Revolution: Apostolic Imagination and Practice for the 21st Century Church
368 pp., $24.95
A New Apostolic Movement?
But is Hirsch's ecclesiology grounded in the biblical, historical, and contemporary wisdom that Guder claims for it? Does a faithful mission-centered Church require apostolic movements responding to the "apostolic imagination" of present day apostles? How should Hirsch's intended audience—"the key leaders in the churches and other organizations that make up the heartland of biblical Christianity—from Conservative evangelical to Pentecostal, from missional to traditional, and anything in between"—respond to his argument?
I hope that these leaders will not simply ignore Hirsch's proposal because it seems so outlandish to them. As surprising as it will be to some, the notion of a restored apostolic ministry is increasingly popular within the global Pentecostal/Renewal movement. Because the phenomenon is so new, it is hard to speak with certainty of the numbers of people worldwide that attend churches that are said to be under the leadership of apostles; the World Christian Database (WCD) estimated in their 2001 encyclopedia that of the approximately 524 million Christians that fell into the Pentecostal/Charismatic/Neocharismatic orbit, anywhere from a quarter to two-thirds were a part of churches utilizing five-fold ministry. Whatever the exact figures, it is beyond debate that the numbers are growing each year, particularly in Asia and Africa. Though by no means a household word among American evangelicals, this "Neo Apostolic Reformation," as the WCD has labeled it, is growing in popularity within the mainstream of evangelicalism to a degree that many are unaware of. For instance, it is an underappreciated fact that well before a sex and drug scandal engulfed Ted Haggard, former president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), he was known as a leading proponent of apostolic ministry who had rewritten the bylaws of his New Life Church to reflect apostolic governance. In fact, the preeminent proponent of apostolic government of the church, C. Peter Wagner, moved to Denver, Colorado, in 1999 to co-found with Haggard the World Prayer Center. Haggard described his partnership with Wagner in his 1998 book, The Life Giving Church:
When I arrived, I met … Peter and Doris Wagner and several other recognized leaders. From that meeting, New Life Church formed its mission for the 1990s—to support … Peter and Doris Wagner specifically … a calling that led to the creation of the World Prayer Center and much more. We as a team coordinated the Prayer Through the Window series that had 22,500,000 participants in 1993; 36,700,000 participants in 1995; over 40,000,000 in 1997.