Remaining Apostolic There seems to be a lot of people who used to be Apostolic. Talking with these people is always interesting. They have some very fascinating reasons why they left the Apostolic movement. I listen sympathetically to their stories, which usually follow a liberation or enlightenment motif, and then explain why I remain an Apostolic. I have fond memories of my Grandmother taking me to an Apostolic Church when I was a child, singing Apostolic choruses, and experiencing the presence and power of God. I remember that evening in the Spencer, West Virginia, United Pentecostal Church when a group of saints held a special service to pray a sophomore in college through to the Holy Ghost and baptize him in Jesus' name. Wonderful, wonderful memories! But, they are more than memories. They are experiences that live in my heart and continue to influence me today. They are part of the reason I chose to remain Apostolic. I remain an Apostolic because I feel at home in the Apostolic Church. This is the Church of my spiritual birth, where I first heard the Gospel proclaimed, where I first experienced the presence and power of God, where I learned how to pray and worship, and where I experienced the love of the people of God! Like it or not, my Christian faith has been formed by the Apostolic Church and remains affected by it, for better or worse. I remain an Apostolic because I'm part of a very large Apostolic family. As a husband and father I am keenly aware of the dynamics of family life. There are arguments and disagreements in the Starcher household. Tempers flare, words are said, and actions are taken, which, at times, seem to define us as anything but a Christian family. But then there are the times of reconciliation when the love that bonds us together overcomes our animosity and restores us together in that blessed family unity that makes for a good Christian home. The Apostolic Church is also my family. Although I may have times of disagreement I look forward to the times of reconciliation when the Spirit of God binds us together in the unity of our faith by a common love. This is one reason why I remain an Apostolic. I believe in God's power for reconciliation and love. I remain an Apostolic because I am critically loyal. Many former Apostolics are "taken back" when I begin to give examples of the truths of the Apostolic faith which they must still affirm to be considered any type of Christian. I affirm these truths within the context of my Apostolic faith, life, and experience. I need not journey outside the Apostolic faith to affirm the essential tenets of Christianity. I am an Apostolic Pentecostal Christian! When so much can be affirmed, why would one leave the Apostolic movement in anger and indifference when disagreements arise? Being critically loyal means that I recognize that I do not have to agree with every Apostolic belief and practice to remain an Apostolic. I may struggle with rigid Apostolic traditions and question Apostolic denominational hierarchies and authority, but at the
same time I acknowledge that I share with them a common faith. I cannot leave "home" just because of a few disagreements! Why should I turn my back on the Church and leave behind the spiritual life it brings to me? I remain an Apostolic because I am not comfortable with failure. For so many former Apostolics leaving the Apostolic movement makes a statement of conviction, courage, or intellectual honesty. For others it just says "I can't take it anymore!" For me, leaving the Apostolic movement would be a sign of failure, weakness, and capitulation. It is hard for me to think of abandoning the ship just because of the presence of a storm and some rough water. I've had too many good voyages when the seas were calm and the crew was actually working together! This community of faith has given me so much how could I think of leaving it in the dark of the storm, gale winds blowing, water needing bailed? How could I inflate the life raft and jump into the unknown waters of the denominational world leaving my family behind to survive? No, I must stay and work with those who desire to renew the Church and steer it through the storm. I remain an Apostolic because I am convinced of the reality of the Apostolic experience of Jesus and of the truth of the Apostolic faith. It is amazing, but true, that God continues to bless the Apostolic Church in the midst of its weaknesses, failures and shortcomings. As Jesus is proclaimed in Apostolic communities souls are baptized in the Holy Spirit, saints are renewed, and disciples are made. Yes, the Apostolic movement has its faults, but, no God has not departed! This gives me hope; hope that the Apostolic Church will hear the many prophetic voices calling for self examination and renewal. I remain an Apostolic because I love the Apostolic Church. It's easy to say I love the Church when all is well; the church has direction, vision, unity, and love. But the Church, just like family, needs to loved when it is wondering, sightless, divided, and without love. The Church needs to be loved because in the midst of its turmoil, and in the midst of its crisis, it continues to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ to a lost world and to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Church needs to be loved because the spiritual blessings it has given in the past are a harbinger of greater spiritual blessings to come. The Church needs to be loved because only love will heal its many wounds and restore it to health and vitality. I remain an Apostolic to share in the struggle for the renewal of the Apostolic Church I love. Steve Starcher is an ordained minister with the Associated Brotherhood of Christians who lives in Fresno, California. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.