“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Is There a Father in the House?, by Randall D. Kittle

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For more than a decade now, there has been a devastating crisis in American family-life, sometimes spoken of yet shamefully growing in proportion every year. It is not the use and abuse of drugs or alcohol. Nor is it violence in the home or sexual promiscuity to which I am referring. Though all of these have done major damage to American home-life in recent years, the crisis I am referring to is the plague of absentee fathers in the average American home. Whether due to the increasing number of unwed mothers, the astronomically high divorce rates, or busy business dads who are seldom home (and who are still pretty much absent from family life even when they manage to be present), the result is nearly the same — we are bringing up a generation which has a deep wound of fatherlessness. Blatant disrespect, lack of motivation to achieve, and the glaring need to be accepted and affirmed by their peers are just some of the telltale signs of the wound of fatherlessness that runs deep across our American culture.

Absentee Fathers In The Church
If this were true only in our society and not in the Church it would be bad enough, but unfortunately it is often no better (and sometimes worse) in the family-life of many believers. Far too often Christian fathers leave behind their families in pursuit of rising up the corporate ladder. For others, their family is left behind as their lives become grossly out of balance while trying to make ends meet and keep up the basic American lifestyle we have come to believe is our God-given right. This absenteeism is even more hurtful when it has been done in the name of serving Christ. Too often those in ministry have put their families on the back burners in order to serve the Lord and shepherd God’s sheep. Many a child has felt the hurt of rejection as they wait for their father to come home and fulfill promises he made to them … promises once again postponed or forgotten because of some pressing need or ministerial opportunity that just cannot wait.

We do not need an “orange alert” to let us know that homeland security is greatly threatened in America. With fatherly absenteeism at an all-time high, most children are missing the basic sense of security that should be every child's inheritance. More than a stronger economy or greater victory in our crusade against international tyrants, what America needs in this hour is a dose of fatherly love and fatherly discipline. We are a country desperately in need of a father's loving acceptance, direction, and correction. Only with an outpouring of fatherly reactivation will there ever be true security in the homes across this land.
Christian Orphans

The church, too, has suffered from a deep wound of fatherlessness. Where are the fathers in God's house? We have pastors and teachers aplenty, but true spiritual fathers have been sorely missing. Where have the older men been who will not only train up the younger men who will follow after them, but encourage them and give them room to mature? We have an abundance of seminaries and Bible colleges when what we really need are spiritual fathers.

The good news is that prior to Jesus' crucifixion, He made His disciples a promise saying,
“I will not leave you orphans …” (John 14:18). This promise still holds for the Church in our day. The Lord has seen our fatherless plight, and in His faithfulness He has been restoring the Father’s heart to His Church over the last few years. Across the Church in recent years there has arisen an increasingly clear and powerful declaration of the great love our Heavenly Father has for His children. In various places like Toronto, Kansas City and elsewhere the cry has sounded loud and clear: “God your Father loves you. He longs to embrace you as His sons and daughters!” This declaration of the Father's love has been birthed by God to begin healing the wound of fatherlessness, and God is now causing the re-emerging of the apostolic functioning in the church to complete this healing. God has sent us His fatherly love, and now He is releasing a wave of apostolic fathers.

Apostolic Fathers
How will the re-emerging of apostolic ministry help complete healing the wound of fatherlessness in the Church? It is because the heart of an apostle is really a fathering heart. The true apostolic anointing is fatherly in nature.

We can see this clearly in Paul’s fatherly heart for those to whom he ministered. In Philemon, Paul declares Onesimus to be his spiritual son.
“I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains” (Philemon 1:10). The Scriptures also reveal Paul saying the same about Timothy and Titus. The fathering heart is part and parcel to the apostolic, just listen to Paul's heart for the believers in Galatia. “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!” (Galatians 4:19-20). Paul's heart was one of a father carefully guarding and caring for his children. This is the heart of every true apostle.

The manner by which apostles relate to the churches they have founded is far more fathering than governing. Holy Spirit government and structure is great, but apostolic fathers are relationship-based. True apostolic leaders are not just leaders because of some network of churches they help govern, they have a heart that reflects the father heart of God.

The nature of apostolic ministry is fatherly both in being reproductive — producing sons and daughters, and nurturing — bringing children to maturity. The relationship they will have with the churches they help grow and mature is much like how a father relates to a son who has left his home and his father’s oversight to marry and raise his own family. The son (those who lead the local congregation) is the one responsible for his family, but he could be greatly blessed by his father’s (the apostle’s) input. When apostolic ministries are invited to speak at other churches, the apostles do not represent a level of authority over the local assembly (governed by the elders or senior pastor), they come with a heart of submission to the existing leadership. By demonstrating the grace and love of God through having a servant's heart, apostles establish bonds of trust and relationship with local leaders. In this way, the Lord Jesus builds His church on a regional basis through relationship.

The nurturing aspect of apostolic ministry causes apostles to be men with hearts to train others in their ministry. A key ingredient in this will be to take others in training with them on ministry trips where they will both experience ministry in real life situations, and where relationships can be built by their time together. This natural desire to train-up and equip their spiritual offspring leads apostles to often have a strong team spirit in ministry and team counsel in church government.

Though the presence of spiritual fathers in the church has been sorely missing, the Lord in our day is keeping His promise that we will not be spiritual orphans. God has been moving in the Church across the face of the earth declaring the love of the Father, and releasing a fresh wave of apostolic ministry to heal the wound of fatherlessness. God is restoring true apostolic fathers who will care for the church as if they were their own children. This nurturing and relational covering will provide the proper security so that every child in the house of God can grow up and mature into the likeness of their Heavenly Father.


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