Friday, 6 November 2009

Who are the "New Apostles"?

Following up on my last post on this subject, who are the people I am referring to?

Here are some of the key people I can see steadily influencing me, others I know, and other churches I see within Newfrontiers. The more a leader / Church leans to one of these, the more it becomes apparent in everything from the style of Sunday meeting to the methodology of mission.

This list is not exhaustive. This comment is not critical. It is an observation. It is my observation, and could be wrong.


Leadership training, seeker sensitive services, personal evangelism, personal prayer life, the list of things Bill Hybels is strong on goes on and on. Through the Willow Creek Association there is training, resources, strategies and resources for almost every aspect of Church life.

You can tell when a Church is fan of Hybels. Personal witness and social events take a priority, the atmosphere is relaxed and the vision is clear, reach people and grow the Church.


Driscoll looks a bit like a cage fighter and sometimes even sounds like one. A bull-dog preacher with a gutsy style, and a church service very clearly focussed around the word, which is normally an hour or more long. Not afraid to confront tough issues, and being provocative seem to go hand in hand. A massive investment in media and focus on engaging with culture means Driscoll now reaches millions a week with his messages. The flip side is that whenever I hear a message from him he always makes a comment of some sort I am certain aged 50 he will regret.

His style is a bit edgier than Hybels, a bit grungier, maybe even a bit younger.

You can tell when a Church is fan of Driscoll. The music is louder, the room darker, the preaching longer and they have spent thousands on the website. There also seems to be a rougher edged, bolder form of complimentarianism upheld.


Keller seems to hold many of the same heart desires as Driscoll (or may vice versa), but expresses them in a much less provocative and (in my view) more mature way. Reaching the culture, mission, shaping society, reaching the cities, it all sounds familiar but feels a bit more mature and the form of complimentarianism practiced seems much more respectful and a lot less macho.

You can tell when a Church is fan of Keller. There seems to be a really wide view of what mission is, and it involves the arts, politics, industry and more. It values the unbeliever and it values the world the unbeliever inhabits and seeks to reach them there and bring the values of the Kingdom of God on public display.


Bill Johnson is a capital C charismatic. Arguably even more controversial than Driscoll within evangelicalism although less on the radar within the wider Church, his stock continues to rise in certain circles despite his very strong public allegiance to Todd Bentley, which must have brought him deeper support and opposition than any other issue he has had to make a call on.

He seems to share the platform at various events with an eclectic mix of people I would be very, very nervous of and people I really, really respect. My friend had medical condition in her ankle that was healed when Bill prayed for her at a New Wine meeting. Several people I know have had their lives radically transformed by visiting his Church.

I can see his influence in different people, different churches, and more recently in evangelistic methodology

You can tell when a Church is fan of Johnson. They love the presence of God and go "treasure hunting" but it does not involve a metal detector, and they are praying for and expectant for revival.


Who have I missed out? There are bound to be more. These are people who I can see definitely shaping church life and thought in different ways and through new media channels reaching a much wider audience more quickly than ever possible before.

Is this a good thing? I think the answer is a bit of both.


Ian Matthews said...

Here are a few:

Rob Bell: for edgy and modern communication blended with traditional evanglical preaching. Influential especially for commitment to using contemporary media 'quality' - in public performance and on film. Went down a storm at Greenbelt this year and sold a gazillion NOOMA DVDs.

Shane Claiborne: Now highly influential on many churches examining community and consumerism - was even the main speaker at this year's annual HTB leadership conference - did 4 main sessions I think.

Francis Chan: a name to really watch for - starting to affect a lot of churches reaching out to the 'broken'. Matt Redman link is making it significant for the UK.

I'm sure there are more ...

Anonymous said...

Alan Hirsch
Louie Giglio
NT Wright

dave bish said...

Ian/Anonymous... can't say I see those guys being particularly influential in Newfrontiers while those Dave mentions are to varying degrees.

Mark Heath said...

Hi David,
very interesting post. You picked out many of the same names I did in a similar post:

You are right to say Bill Johnson is becoming a big influence, I would have listed him too under neo-pentecostal if I'd heard of him at the time.

I added some emerging church leaders to my list. I know it is probably the weakest of the influences on newfrontiers, but people such as Rob Bell/Shane Claibourne as well as NT Wright/Pete Greig are being read by those within our family of churches, & I do expect some of their ideas to become more widespread.

Blue, with a hint of amber said...

Hi Mark, great minds and all that! Looks like our observations are almost identitcal.

I would say the emerging church influence is much much less than in other circles, although I guess that boils down to who you know.

Dave: yep I am thinking specifically within newfrontiers and it is interesting who I barely ever hear about and who I hear about quite a lot, hence the suggestion some of these guys are almost becoming apostolic influences rather than favourite preachers etc.

Peter Kirk said...

Rick Warren would surely be another of these apostles, at least among those many churches who have followed his Purpose Driven approach. Or is his star now fading, at least here in the UK?

Blue, with a hint of amber said...

Hi Peter. "Within newfrontiers" would be crucial.

I have not heard Rick Warren mentioned for years, and don't know any who did the "Purpose driven" thing although I am sure some did.

Jongudmund said...

How can you not know anyone who's done 'Purpose Driven'?

I'm not sure I'd agree with the idea that these guys are 'new apostles'. I have no beef with any of them, but there's another word for people who exert an awful lot of influence over 'the masses' and that word is "celebrity".

I think it's more likely that high profile Christians (of any ilk and in any sphere) are treated more like celebrities by their adoring fans than actually exercise an apostolic ministry. And I think that sits uncomfortably with some / many of them.

It's a natural tendency to put people on pedestals. (Emperor worship was a populist religion that was most powerful among the poorest Roman citizens.)