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An Interview With Jeremy Simpkins – Do Apostles Exist Today?

22 August 2012

So my next interview is with Jeremy Simpkins who is known in Newfrontiers circles as an apostle which I think should give you enough reason to read the rest of the blog. He has also been a great servant to Leanne and I as we set out on our journey to Dublin.

(1) Hi Jeremy  tell us who you are, your history, what you do and your most favourite thing about Dublin?

I’ve been involved with the newfontiers church planting movement for 33 years. I joined a group of believers in Hastings in 1979, one of the very first church plants associated with Terry Virgo. In 1992 was sent to Eastbourne to serve one of the first “strategic” church plants in newfrontiers. In 1998 I was asked to lead a plant in Teesside (NE England) where I also started to serve other Churches in the North region. 3 years ago we felt God call us to lead a Church in the centre of Manchester, so I now help to lead Christ Central Manchester, as well as continuing to lead the team that oversees the 75+ Churches that we serve.

We’ve visited Dublin for the first time this year – we were struck my the exuberant life in the city, the friendliness of the people and the taste of genuine Guinness!!

(2) Who have been your inspirations growing up and who do you enjoying reading?

Firstly my parents, who introduced me to Jesus when I was 8 and also to the teachings of their old Pastor, Dr Martin Lloyd Jones. Secondly Terry Virgo, for giving me a biblical understanding of who we are “in Christ” and a vision for Christ’s glorious Church. I love reading crime novels by John Grisham & Lee Child and reformed doctrine by John Piper, RC Sproul, DA Carson & of course Dr Martin Lloyd Jones!

(3) Terry Virgo founded Newfrontiers over 30 years ago and has just stepped down and handed on the baton to a number of men (apostles) like yourself who will lead different autonomous spheres that choose to work together. Tell us the rationale behind this decision and how you see this working out over the next few years?

A few years ago Mark Driscoll challenged Terry and Newfrontiers to prepare for the future and not to keep focusing on the past. Biblically Terry didn’t believe in apostolic “succession” but rather in apostolic multiplication. When he looked at the 8-900 churches in newfronteirs he saw that many were clustered around emerging apostles whom he had nurtured, trained & released. This culminated last summer when at our Leadership Conference Terry recognized 17 men who were already exercising some level of apostolic ministry in the nations. As Terry said this was just a “snapshot” of those serving in this way, his heart and ours is to see so many more released in the future. For us we have been working with around 75 Churches & plants in England (mainly in the North), Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Canada, Norway, Africa and now into Ireland!

(4) When it comes to the ‘role of an apostle’ today most people either believe that there have been no apostles after the early church apostles or that the role may continue today but we are not really sure who they are or how they function. How does it feel being called an apostle, what do you see are the key aspects of the role/gift and how do people within and outside the Newfrontiers family respond to you being called an apostle? 

First I think we need to debunk the mystique, “apostle” is simply a biblical word meaning “one who is sent.” Jesus is the ultimate “apostle,”  sent from heaven to earth. He commissioned 12 unique apostles to be sent all over the world preaching his gospel and gathering those who responded into missional communities called churches, ensuring they were built on solid foundations. But Ephesians 4 makes it clear that the risen Jesus is still giving these gifts and they are still needed to help spread the gospel and to lay good solid biblical foundations. I believe all Christ’s followers have callings & gifts from God, the key is to find what you’ve been given and start to serve in that area.

We must resist the temptation to put leadership gifts on pedestals, such gifts are given to serve the body of Christ, helping us all to become mature and flourish in our own gifts & callings. So in that way it feels like the “normal christian life” for me, I’m just doing what I feel called to do! That is to encourage the church to be the church, to have solid biblical foundations, to keep multiplying by going to the nations and being an influence in society, to be salt & light where ever they go and in doing so especially caring for the poor and marginalized.

(5) You lead the North sphere of churches and each year you host the big NORTH camp which happens at the end of August? Is the name going to stay the same as we move forward?

North has served us as an identity for almost a decade, because originally we served churches in the North of the UK and we hosted a annual family camp in the North of England. However as we become increasingly more internationally it’s becoming slightly redundant and to be honest even unhelpful, for instance in Ireland it could certainly give the wrong impression! Recently God has been speaking to me again about us being a Christ Central movement, a group of churches where Jesus is at the heart of all we are and all we do, so the hot news is we are renaming our apostolic team “Christ Central” next week at North. We are still very much part of Newfrontiers – honoring all that has gone before us by continuing to go to the nations!

(6) Tell us, what are your hopes for the North sphere in terms of church plantings and pioneering into new areas?

I believe our apostolic commission hasn’t changed – is to go to all the nations with the gospel and plant missional communities that affect all of life. That is certainly geographic, but it’s also demographic as many in our so called “Christian countries” don’t personally know the gospel of Jesus, so we are called to give everyone that wonderful opportunity!

 

You can follow Jeremy on twitter @JPSimpkins

If you would like to read more about whether Apostles exist today please check out these links by Terry Virgo – Apostles Today  or this video Apostolic vs Missional

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