Apostles did not only plant churches, they provided ongoing care as well. Indeed, Paul records this as one of the greatest pressures upon him. Having set out a whole catalogue of his sufferings, he adds, as if it were one of the greatest strains on him emotionally, 'Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.' (2 Cor 11:28)"
We might raise the question - isn't 'care' the responsibility of the pastor gift? In the biblical model of leadership, the shepherd heart undergirds all genuine godly leadership. The leaders of Israel were called 'shepherds' quite deliberately. God is our 'Shepherd'. Apostles are therefore to be shepherds. The care of the churches involves much emotional energy, disappointment and frustration, yet also great joy. This duty of care is largely handed over to elders once the church is established. Apostles then continue to care for the churches 'from a distance' and never (or at least rarely) independently of the eldership.
The apostles also had the responsibility of bringing wisdom to bear on very difficult situations in those churches. As well as bringing correction, Paul's first letter to the Corinthians gave advice on some of the difficult issues they were facing concerning marriage, Christian 'freedoms'' suitable attire for women and how spiritual gifts were to be both encouraged and yet regulated according to godly order. At the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15, the apostles, together with the elders, had to seek God's wisdom on major cross-cultural mission issues, concerning how the Gentiles should be accepted as part of the church. this required debate and skillful leadership to apply the Old Testament scriptures to the new covenant situation."
This post is adapted from David Devenish's book, Fathering Leaders, Motivating Mission. Join us in St Louis in October at Equipped For Mission to hear more from David!