3 Characteristics of Church Pioneers


D.P. Williams notes 3 characteristics of church pioneers ('Editorial Forward', Riches of Grace, Vol. xi, No. 1, pg. 3):

  1. Inspiration by the Holy Ghost
  2. Vision, by the the Word and the Will of God
  3. Passion, by the love of God, for the souls of men
Although he was writing in 1935, things haven't changed since then. These three characteristics are still vital among church leaders. I'm glad Pastor Dan gives a bit of an explanation and not just three words (inspiration, vision and passion), because these are three words that can so easily be redefined. It is not an 'inspirational' speaker that's needed, but rather one who is speaks and acts under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit. It is not the one who can write the best sounding vision-statement, but rather the one who's vision is governed by Scripture and God's sovereign will and eternal purpose. It is not the most passionate/charismatic personality that is needed, but rather one who is passionate for proclaiming the Gospel, who has compassion on lost souls (remember the prophetic word from last year's Convention), one who is constrained to love the lost because of the love of God shown to sinful man at the Cross.

D.P. Williams was talking about the pioneers of the Apostolic Church when he wrote these three points. However, these characteristics are not simply something that should be confined to our past. All church pioneers need this type of inspiration, vision and passion. But not just pioneers! The message isn't just for church planters and missionaries, but for all ministers. It is not just the apostles who need inspiration, vision and passion, but the local elders in each assembly too.

In fact, although these characteristics are necessary for our leaders, they are not just for the leaders. I, for one, would like to see all the members of my assembly characterised by a measure of inspiration, vision, and passion. This is a message for the whole Body of Christ. All Christians need to know the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to have a vision of God's will from His Word, and to have a passion for making the Gospel known to the lost.

I really appreciate the fact that Pastor Dan brought these three characteristics together. I suppose I have a tendency to focus on one at a time; at one point in time I pray for and seek to cultivate one, and at another time another. Yet as Pastor Dan points out, all three are needed together. Balanced leadership requires inspiration, vision and passion together.

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The Tenets of the Apostolic Church

The Unity of the Godhead, and Trinity of the Persons therein.

The utter depravity of human nature, the necessity for repentance and regeneration and the eternal doom of the finally impenitent.

The virgin birth, sinless life, atoning death, triumphant resurrection, ascension, and abiding intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ; His second coming, and millennial reign upon earth.

Justification and Sanctification of the believer through the finished work of Christ.

The Baptism of the Holy Ghost for believers, with signs following.

The nine gifts of the Holy Ghost for the edification, exhortation and comfort of the Church, which is the body of Christ.

The Sacraments of Baptism by immersion and of the Lord's Supper.

The Divine inspiration and authority of the Holy Scriptures.

Church government by apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, elders and deacons.

The possibility of falling from grace.

The obligatory nature of tithes and offerings.