“For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me.” (1 Cor 4:15-16)
The Nicene Creed says that the church is “apostolic.” Robert Webber, in the book “Ancient-Future Faith” explains that “the concept of apostolicity indicates that the church is intimately linked to and built on the past.” We have the obligation to learn from the apostles and understand the historicity of our faith, but at the same time, it also means we have the responsibility to hand down our faith to future generations. To me, this is one main reason why we need to “be apostolic.” It’s a communal mission of the church to “hand down the church” to successive generations, as Webber also suggested.
But there’s a second view of apostolicity. The word “apostle” also means “ambassador,” as in 2 Corinthians 5:20: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” An ambassador represents the country, not the ambassador himself. Therefore, our testimony should not be about our good behavior, not even about how God blessed us, but about the gospel of the kingdom.
The best recent “apostolic” story I can think of was during a Christian conference a few weeks ago, when I attended a workshop led by a young lady sharing about her experiences. Somehow, she often got prompted by the Holy Spirit to talk to strangers around her. One time she felt the urge to talk to a woman by a bar, and to her surprise, she found out that this woman was determined to commit suicide later that day. She was able to tell the woman that God sent her with the message of God’s love and forgiveness of sins, and not only was she able to save her from the suicide attempt, the woman was reconciled to God. And she kept sharing many stories of how she was (seemingly randomly) drawn by the Holy Spirit to people who were hurting secretly inside, and she was able to deliver the message of God’s gospel to them.
So I think a large part of being missional is this apostolic mentality, being ambassadors, desiring to reconcile people to God, and having an ancient-future perspective on the kingdom of God.