The Church of the Apostles: What You Need to Know
Christianity’s influence on the world has a far-reaching, indisputable magnitude with which worship centers like The Church of the Apostles in Atlanta have an abundance. The sheer number of followers who congregate each week to listen to the Word of God is truly nothing short of astounding. What you may need to be aware of, however, is how the doctrines they follow shape their religious practices. Here’s a closer look at what they believe to learn about the Church of Apostles and help you understand these aspects of their faith.
What is the Church of the Apostles and its history?
The Church of Apostles is an evangelical congregation with traditional Christian beliefs and Biblical values. Its history dates back to 1987 when Michael Youssef led a group of less than 40 faithful Christians with the mission to “Equip the Saints and Seek the Lost.” The Atlanta-based church has grown over the years and has more than 3,000 members from diverse racial, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds.
What are the beliefs and doctrines of the Church of the Apostles?
By submitting themselves fully to God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, the apostles seek to follow the guidance and counsel from above through the teachings of the Bible. Here are a few examples of the church of the Apostles’ beliefs and doctrines:
The scriptures declare that God is “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). The Church of the Apostles believes in one God, who has revealed Himself as Father in creation, Son through His redeeming death, and Holy Spirit through His empowering life.
2. Jesus Christ
The apostles believe that Jesus is God’s only and eternal Son (John 1:14), the Savior of the world (John 4:42; 1 John 4:14-16), and the only way to salvation (Acts 4:12). As a doctrine, the deity of Jesus – His personality and His work on earth – is not disputed.
3. Holy Spirit
Divine grace, the Holy Spirit, is a living attribute of God (Hebrews 9:14), and the Church of the Apostles believes that God’s power is active in leading and guiding Christians (John 16:13). An empowered godly life through the Holy Spirit is the goal for every believer and pleases God.
Inerrancy is the church of the Apostle’s understanding of the Bible as an authoritative source for faith and belief. They believe that every word in every scripture is true and pure (Psalm 12:6-7). As such, they affirm the traditional Christian doctrines like biblical inspiration from God and infallibility in teaching without adding or subtracting anything from what is written.
5. Sin and salvation
By nature, all people are separated from God by sin. But salvation is a gift from Him and available to everyone through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38). The Church of the Apostles believes in the biblical concept of spiritual regeneration, which is the new birth (John 3:3-8).
How is the Church of the Apostles organized and structured?
In the Church of the Apostles, the Vestry and heads of ministries share leadership in an organized manner through different roles and responsibilities. The Vestry is a fifteen-member advisory board that oversees the church’s administration and day-to-day functioning. Qualified believers serve in various capacities but mainly support at least one ministry and its staff leader or director. Some have a long history of dedicated service as teachers, ministers, ushers, or prayer leaders. The full list of men in charge at the Church of the Apostles and a brief description of their duties is available on the Leadership page.
What is the role of the Apostle in the Church of the Apostles?
An apostle of the Church of the Apostles has the role of building a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and proclaiming the gospel to all people. In addition, it’s a way to emphasize the importance of God’s love for people and His willingness to forgive our sins by giving His son for them and all. On a practical level, an apostle gives one’s time and energy to support the church in various ways, like teaching Sunday school, leading or attending a small group Bible study, ushering at services, and participating in special events.
What are the sacraments and practices of the Church of the Apostles?
While Apostles’ faith is founded on the belief in the eternal Word of God, their core values include the commitment to welcome all people and to celebrate Christian fellowship. Therefore, the Church of the Apostles embraces the following sacramental commemorations and common practices:
Adult baptism signifies publicly submitting one’s life to God and unity with Christ. The Apostles believe baptism symbolizes a believer’s salvation, renewal, and reconciliation with God (Romans 6:3-6). On the other hand, infant baptism serves three purposes:
- conforms to God’s promise of salvation for all the household, including children (Acts 16:31)
- give thanks to God for blessing the parents with the baby
- dedicate the child’s upbringing to virtuous practices that honor the Lord
2. The Lord’s Supper
1 Cor. 10-16 reveals that the Lord’s Supper commemorates His death and resurrection and is a bond of unity and fellowship among the church members. The Apostles believe that in taking part in Communion (or “The Lord’s Supper”), they are spiritually sharing in His body and blood, which sanctify them, thus co-sharing in salvation (1 Cor. 11:23-24).
The Church of the Apostles has two prayer ministries: intercessory and personal.
- Intercessory (praying for one another): members pray for each other during midweek service based on their devotion and corporate prayer group commitment.
- Personal prayer: members are encouraged to cultivate a personal relationship with God through prayer, meditation, and Bible study
3. Bible study
Adult Bible classes at the Church of the Apostles and children’s learning programs are a valuable part of Christian education organized by different ministries.
- Men’s ministry: weekly study offers men an opportunity to grow spiritually
- Women’s ministry: experienced Bible teachers lead the study for women through weekday community classes
- Sunday school: a Sunday morning activity for infants, kindergarteners, and children in first to fourth grade
Worship, fellowship, and activities with members and friends are vital to the Apostles’ life. Fellowshipping builds and strengthens relationships through busy ministry events, prayer meetings, small groups (Bible study, faith development), and special fellowship gatherings like Reunion, Prayer Breakfast, Luncheons, and Outreach. The worship service every Sunday is where members gather to worship God (Hebrews 10:24-25) by reading the Bible and hearing anointed preaching.
For members of the Apostles Church, weddings are a significant event in which the couple is joined in marriage as one flesh and is welcomed by God (Gen. 2:24) and church friends. Under the guidance of ordained wedding ministers, they organize and perform wedding ceremonies to signify the couple’s commitment to each other in love, faithfulness, and wholeness. A Wedding Handbook is available for anyone considering a marital union to use in planning a wedding.
The clergy, lay leaders, and members of the church minister to the poor, underprivileged, widows, and orphans. A significant amount of resources dedicated to this purpose comes from the annual tithes and offerings to support worldwide evangelism. In addition, the Church of the Apostles works closely with the Atlanta community and other organizations to help meet the financial and medical needs of the less fortunate or disadvantaged. Learn more on how to help by visiting the Outreach page.
What are the different denominations of the Church of the Apostles?
In a broader context, the Church of the Apostles is not associated with any specific denomination. However, they subscribe to certain evangelical Anglican teachings that are the core of their faith, like the administration of infant baptism. In addition, like most Anglican or Episcopal denominations, the Church of the Apostles shares the belief in speaking in tongues, the male servant headship, and the institution of the Eucharist.
What is the significance of the Church of the Apostles in Christianity?
The church of the Apostles’ significance lies in following Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:14 to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom throughout the world for a witness to all nations before the end comes. By doing so, they bring the lost and hurting ones of the world to repentance, faith, and grace. Christianity teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves, and we are all children of God (Luke 10:27-37) and have a right to live in God’s true Kingdom of peace, love, and prosperity. Therefore, through their services, they endeavor to preach hope and offer spiritual nurturing and enlightenment to every person on earth.
How does the Church of the Apostles compare to other Christian denominations?
Although the Church of the Apostles is open to people from all cultures and walks of life, they differ from other Christian denominations. With a diverse body of worshippers and leaders from different evangelical backgrounds, the Church of the Apostles offers a unique Christian experience. Distinctive to the church are the following core beliefs and nonconformist tenets:
1. Bread and wine are symbolic
Unlike Catholics, the Apostles believe in the symbolic interpretation of the Eucharist. Consuming flesh and blood is against the Old Testament’s teaching in Deuteronomy 12:16. So, bread and wine do not represent the actual body and blood of Christ, but a celebration of his victory and our salvation.
2. Role of women
Like most Anglican churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, women cannot serve as priests or pastors. However, they can serve as church ministers in communicative and non-clerical positions, such as reading the Word of God.
3. Speaking in tongues
Pentecostals and charismatics follow the practice of speaking in tongues. In the Church of the Apostles, this gift is only exercised if there’s a personal spiritual need for someone to be edified, but it is not necessary for preaching and public worship (1 Corinthians 14).
In Genesis 2:18-25 and Matthew 19:4-6, God’s plan is for one man to marry one woman in a life-long union. So, it is impossible to bring more than one woman into marriage. If the Church of the Apostles permitted polygamy as Mormons do, it would contradict these teachings from the Bible.
5. Holy Trinity
Although most Christians in the world would agree that they acknowledge the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost), not everyone agrees on how to interpret it. The Church of the Apostles believes in the unity of God, where three persons are united in one essence, power, and eternity.
What is the liturgical calendar of the Church of the Apostles?
The liturgical calendar of the Church of the Apostles begins on January 1, which is also the celebration of New Year’s Day or the Circumcision of Jesus. This is followed by the observance of Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday and its aftermath, Ascension Day, and Pentecost. Of course, Christmas Day is a major event, not just a day ending the year but also a feast day to celebrate the birth of Jesus, God’s Son.
What are the main texts and scripture used by the Church of the Apostles?
Christians hold the Holy Bible as the ultimate source of God’s revelation. The holy book has sixty-six books and presents God’s law and will. Church of the Apostles’ basic texts and scripture include the following:
- Matthew 24:14 encourages Christians to be ready for Christ’s coming by preaching the gospel to the whole world
- Matthew 22:37-39 teaches of the great commandment to love God and to love neighbor
- Hebrews 10:24-25 calls Christians to not forsake assembling together but encouraging each other through word and prayer while at the place of worship.
How do members support the vision of the Church of the Apostles?
Acts 2:45-47 speaks of the apostles’ great commission to carry the gospel to all nations so that everyone might know and worship God and that they gave up everything to follow Jesus. Members of the church fulfill this call by supporting the desire to spread God’s word in every nook and corner of the earth. Since the Ten-Year Vision of the Church of the Apostles is to teach future generations the whole truth of the gospel, members support this by:
- Volunteering in the Children’s Ministry
- Mentoring the youth and Young Families
- Involving yourself with a small group closest to you
- Studying the truth through the Adult Bible Classes to further your discipleship
- Praying with the Midweek Prayer Gathering group
- Giving contributions to the church faithfully
- Bringing family and friends to church
- Attend Sunday morning services regularly
What is the church’s position on homosexuality?
As a Christian church, the Church of the Apostles condemns all sexual perversion and abuse of a person’s God-given sexuality. Homosexual acts are considered immoral because they do not live according to God’s will and design (Leviticus 18:22, I Timothy 1:9-10, Romans 1:26-27). Therefore, same-sex relationships and marriage ceremonies between homosexuals are forbidden in the church and will not be recognized.
What are the beliefs of the Church of the Apostles on original sin?
According to the Biblical account of the fall in Genesis 3 and the consequences described in Romans 5:12-21, original sin is present in all Adam’s descendants. It is passed down through generations and manifests itself in the human race as the tendency to depart from the original righteousness of God (Genesis 6:5). We are all born into this fallen world with a sinful nature (Romans 5:18), which involves some degree of depravity (Romans 8:7) and the inability to do good without God’s help (Romans 8:8).
How does the Church of the Apostles view free will?
The Church of the Apostles does not deny the existence of free will. But, due to the fall of Adam, men are incapable of aligning and orienting themselves with God via their natural strength and ability. Thus, free will, though real, is not absolute. The Bible teaches that man is free only to do evil, not good (Jeremiah 17:9). It’s only through God’s grace and Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice that we are enabled to have goodwill towards Him (Ephesians 2:5) and to do what is right and good (Romans 6:11).
Are priests in the Church of the Apostles allowed to marry?
Yes, the Church of the Apostles is open to married priests. A man serving as a church priest must be above reproach. This means that he must remain sexually pure. Any known sexual activity outside of marriage disqualifies him from this position. At the same time, the church recognizes the biblical concept of celibacy (Matthew 19:12, 1 Corinthians 7:1-7). So, bishops and deacons are not under any obligation to remain celibate. Voluntary abstinence from sexual relationships is acceptable, but there is no requirement.
Does excommunication from the Church of the Apostles still apply?
Yes, excommunication still applies. Since excommunication is a formal step taken by the church to remove a member from the congregation, the Church of the Apostles retains this authority in dealing with those who publicly denounce the church. To maintain integrity, purity, and unity, the church must treat its beliefs and standards as inviolable. In other words, offenders are regarded as traitors and heathens, and the church warns others fairly (Matt. 18:17-18).
Is swearing an oath forbidden in the Church of the Apostles?
Since it involves the invocation of God to witness the truthfulness of a statement, swearing an oath when required by authorities is not forbidden in the church. But according to biblical principles, Christians should be careful about not overstepping their bounds (see Deuteronomy 6:13). Such solemn declarations should not be used for falsehood or insincere purposes. The main point to remember is that an oath adds tremendous weight to the statement, which makes it legally binding.