What is DOVE Christian Fellowship International (DCFI)?

DCFI is an international apostolic movement. An international apostolic movement is a family of churches and ministries comprised of people with various gifts that share common vision, values, goals and a commitment to plant and nurture churches and ministries throughout the world. For DOVE Christian Fellowship International, we are called to build the church from house to house, city to city, and nation to nation through small groups. This apostolic movement has a God-given authority and responsibility to serve, train, equip, release and protect the people, ministries and churches throughout the movement and advance the kingdom of God. DOVE is an acronym, which states, ?Declaring Our Victory Emmanuel.? We are called as an international family of churches and ministries to declare our victory in Emmanuel; God with us. DOVE Christian Fellowship Canada (DCFC) is a part of DCFI.

What is the difference between an Apostolic Movement and a Denomination?

To answer this question we will refer to Peter Wagner?s book The New Apostolic Churches. This book identifies nine things that define the new apostolic churches or movements. We will briefly discuss these here. For a more thorough teaching by Dr. Wagner, we recommend the book Churchquake.

The first thing Dr. Wagner points to is a new name. In fact, it is a name he has coined to describe the emerging groups like DOVE International that form this new movement. He calls it the New Apostolic Reformation. He uses the term reformation because in his perception these new wineskins appear to be at least as radical as those of the Protestant Reformation almost 500 years ago. Apostolic connotes a strong focus on outreach plus recognition of present-day apostolic ministries. ?New? adds a contemporary spin to the name. Peter describes the New Apostolic Reformation as an extraordinary work of God that is changing the shape of Protestant Christianity around the world.

The second change from traditional Christianity, and in Peter?s mind the most significant, is the view of leadership and leadership authority. That is the amount of spiritual authority delegated by the Holy Spirit to individuals. The new apostolic pastors are the leaders of the church, whereas in traditional Christianity they are regarded as employees of the church. New apostolic congregations trust their leaders. There is also a belief in contemporary apostles who give relational accountability to the new apostolic pastors.

The third difference noted is new leadership training. There is a fervently dedicated and practical releasing of the people to do the ministry. Church members are taught that part of being a good Christian is to discover the spiritual gifts God has given them and to minister to others through those gifts as well as any natural talents they might also have. Paid staff are usually home grown and trained locally. As all the believers in the congregation become active in ministry, certain ones tend to rise to the top like cream on fresh milk, and they are the ones who are recruited for staff. Academic requirements for ordination are scrapped in place of relational accountability and practical ministry experience. Many new apostolic churches start their own in-house Bible Schools.

The fourth distinguishing feature that Dr. Wagner points out is a new ministry focus. New apostolic Christianity starts with the present and is focused on the future. Many traditional churches are heritage driven; however new apostolic church leaders are vision driven. They are focusing on the possibilities of expanding the kingdom of God.

The fifth thing that contrasts these new churches with the traditional ones is a new, contemporary, worship style. This is the one characteristic of the New Apostolic Reformation that has penetrated the most deeply into traditional and denominational churches. Worship leaders have replaced music directors. Keyboards have replaced pipe organs. Casual worship teams have replaced robbed choirs. Overhead projectors have replaced hymnals. Standing during worship is the rule, although a great amount of freedom for body language is allowed.

New Prayer Forms is the sixth thing that is mentioned as a distinguishing factor of the New Apostolic churches. Praise marching, prayer walking, prayer journeys and prayer expeditions have become a regular part of church life. Many practice concerts of prayer, in which all worshippers are praying out loud, some in a prayer language (tongues) and some in the vernacular. Worship leaders weave frequent times of prayer into singing worship songs.

New Finances is the seventh thing Dr. Wagner mentions. New Apostolic churches experience relatively few financial problems. Generous giving is taught and expected. Tithing is taught without apology. Giving is understood to be beneficial to not only the church and its ministry, but also to the giver. Giving is considered a joy and viewed cheerfully.

The eighth distinguishing feature that Dr. Wagner mentions is a new outreach. Aggressively reaching out to the lost and hurting of the community and the world is part of the new apostolic DNA. They do seek personal blessings, but usually as a means to the end of reaching others. Planting new churches is assumed as normal part of the local church life. The question is not whether we should do it, but when and how. The same applies to foreign missions.

The last distinction is a new power orientation. The New Apostolic movement seems to be able to combine the technical principles of church growth with the spiritual principles of church growth. There is a consensus that all the New Testament spiritual gifts are in operation today. They not only believe in the work of the Holy Spirit, but also expect Him to manifest a supernatural power flow in church life. Active ministries of healing, deliverance, prophesy, prophetic acts, fervent intercession, spiritual warfare and spiritual mapping are usually found. Supernatural power is believed to open the way for applying the truths of the scripture.

What is a DOVE Canada Partner Church?

A Partner Church consists of believers involved in a cluster of small groups or a house church that receive leadership from a Senior Elder and team of elders. The Senior Elder and team are of like vision and purpose and called by God to partner together with other churches within the DCFC/DCFI family. They have the same values and mission including prayer, evangelism and discipleship.

What is the difference between a small group church and a house church?

More than two decades ago, a new wineskin many called cell church started to flourish to meet a growing need within the contemporary church. Many people realized traditional church methods were not meeting modern believer?s needs. The church was building-bound, clergy-centered, and many Christians longed for a place to belong and be effective witnesses for the gospel. Churches soon realized that small groups (cell groups) could help people rediscover that they can ?do the work of ministry.? Left behind was a spectator mentality of church where the pastor does all the work.

Today, many churches utilize small groups that give everyone a job to do. Everyone?s talents and gifts can be exercised to benefit others, and people can gain on-the-job training for leadership through hands-on experience.

The small groups also provide a more natural setting for evangelism since they give the opportunity to do evangelism as a team. Together the small group can identify and pray for God to use their group to reach the people of their personal oikos (from the Greek word household in the Bible. Our oikos are those people with whom we relate on regular basis?our co-workers, our families, those with whom we share a common interest such as sports or music, our dentist, our car mechanic, etc.). In a small group setting, nonbelievers are more easily drawn in and find a place to be loved and cared for.

With the small group vision made famous through David Yonggi Cho?s successful church in Korea, multitudes of small group or cell churches emerged on the scene of church life and cut through all denominational lines. Some churches started as new cell-based churches; other churches transitioned to small group-based ministry and still others simply developed small groups within their current church structure. Today most every denomination has some kind of small group ministry operating within their church structure that aims to be a place where ministry and caring takes place on a more personal level.

However, current small group churches continue to function mainly within the traditional church structure. In other words, although believers meet during the week in homes, in many cases these small groups still function as complementary ministries to the larger Sunday church meeting. A senior pastor leads this larger gathering and also oversees all the leadership under him in the small groups. This structure, of larger meetings and smaller meetings, requires many small group leaders, assistants and zone pastors, all of whom are accountable to the senior pastor and his leadership team. Additionally, a small group church or church with small groups also requires a headquarters or a church building to accommodate the various church functions.

House churches are entirely different. Although they meet in homes like small groups, that?s where much of the similarity ends. According to Wolfgang Simson in his challenging and cutting-edge book, Houses that Change the World, house churches are not mere appendages of the larger church, but real, bon afide churches:

[Both] concepts look similar, but are really miles apart, because they build on different values, and a different understanding of church. Where the home group is a small part of the big, the house church in itself is the church in its fullest and most holistic sense.

Unlike the small group church each house church is meant to be a complete little church. Each church is led not by a small group leader and a team of assistant leaders, but by a spiritual father or mother who functions as the leader.. He or she does not simply lead a meeting in a house, but rather provides an environment for people to grow spiritually in the context of everyday life. There is no need for a church building in which to meet because each house church is a fully functioning church in itself, meeting in a home.

This is not to say that a house church consists only of one group meeting in a house. I believe a house church should encourage smaller ?cells? within the group to meet for prayer, encouragement and accountability outside of the actual house church meeting. One ?cell? of people could regularly meet for breakfast before work and another ?cell? could meet together to disciple a few new Christians in the house church.

House churches are simple to start, provide a natural setting for ministry, and are easily replicated. Could these new churches meeting in homes, places of business, coffee shops?anywhere people meet, be the new look of the modern church? House churches are a relevant way to engage our communities with the claims of Jesus, according to a successful house church network in Canada:

House churches are simple, easily reproducible, create platforms for gift identification and development, and are effective in showing forth the transforming power of Christ in our neighborhoods and our communities. The postmodern anti-institutional mind, which will not enter traditional church, will come to my home. The Muslim or Hindu neighbor may not go to church, but they will enjoy Canadian hospitality. In the context of everyday life, the message and meaning of the gospel can be communicated in effective ways.

Why is there a need for new churches?

Church planting is efficient. C. Peter Wagner states, ?There is no more practical or cost effective way of bringing unbelievers to Christ in a given geographic area than planting new churches.? This statement is the result of extensive research and analysis of church growth. Church planting provides the infrastructure to support and maintain the fruit that is coming forth. Teaching the biblical financial principles of tithing and giving provides the substance to continue to extend the kingdom of God further.

Although there are generally many churches in any given community in Canada, DCFC believes that as long as there are unbelievers in the community there is a need for new churches. Research shows that new churches are very effective in reaching unbelievers. New churches are not better than the existing ones, but should compliment them in an effort to see the whole community reached and discipled with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Church planting develops new leadership. It provides the opportunity for new and young leaders to stretch their wings and fly. We use the example of parents owning a house with different rooms. As they have children, each child may have a different room in the house to call their own bedroom. But there will come a time when just a room in their parent?s house is not enough. They will want their own house. Healthy parents will release their children to get their own place. It will be a stretching, learning experience for the children. Church planting allows our spiritual children to reach a new level of maturity they won?t reach if they continue to live in our house.

What does it mean for a local church to be a part of DOVE Canada?

It means the local church is part of an international family of churches partnering together to fulfill the Great Commission. We call these churches Partner Churches. Although some Partner Churches have the name DOVE Christian Fellowship in their name, this is not a requirement.

The Senior Elder is to be accountable to and receive spiritual oversight from the leadership of DOVE Canada. We define spiritual oversight as protection, direction and correction. The leadership of DOVE Canada is serving under the apostolic authority of the DCFI Apostolic Council. There could be Fivefold Trans-local Ministers who would serve as an extension of the leadership of DOVE Canada to help adequately serve the Senior Elders.

Are there modern day apostles?

Yes. Biblically, we understand the New Testament mentions more than the original twelve apostles who walked with Jesus. This is important to see because some parts of Christianity have a theology that says there are no apostles today. They would believe that only the original twelve are authentic, which allows no room for modern day apostles. We will see that this is unscriptural. The New Testament should be our model.
Let?s count?the original twelve, plus?
Matthais Acts 1:23-26
Paul Acts 14:14 Some say he replaced Judas, which still allows for only twelve.
Barnabus Acts14:14
Silas 1 Thess. 1:1, 2:67
Timothy 1 Thess. 1:1, 2:67
James Gal. 1:19 the Lord?s brother
Apollos I Cor. 4:6, 8-9
Andronicus Romans 16:7
Junias Romans 16:7
Titus 2 Cor. 8:23
Epaphroditus Phil 2:25-26 hear translated ?messenger?

If Apostles were integral to the development of the early church and that is our model, then certainly we should expect to find them building the church today. During the reign of Alexander the Great, it is recorded that when he sent out a navel task force to accomplish a mission on his behalf, the task force was called an apostolic mission and the navel commander of that task force was called an apostle. The commission was to conquer and govern in the name of the King.

What is the Fivefold Ministry?

According to Ephesians 4:11-12, the five ministry gifts of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher are called by the Lord to equip the saints to minister and encourage the body of Christ.

Fivefold Ministers, who have proven ministries and are recommended by their eldership as having a broader sphere of ministry than to their own cell and congregation, may be recognized and affirmed by the DOVE Canada leadership to serve trans-locally. Cell groups and local congregations need the impartation of the Word of God that comes through the fivefold ministry gifts.

We encourage cell group leaders and Senior Elders of Partner Churches to invite Fivefold Trans-local Ministers into their cell groups and congregations to minister on a regular basis. The Scriptures encourage us to give these Trans-local Ministers generous love offerings and/or honorariums for their spiritual service.

Does DOVE Canada ordain ministers?

The answer is YES we believe we are in the final stages of recognition by the Province of Ontario. As DOVE Canada expands to other provinces we will obtain permission from each provincial governments one by one.

How does someone plant a church with DOVE Canada?

Because we value relationship and want to build a relational movement of churches in Canada, there must be time for adequate relationship to be built. Someone desiring to plant a new church should contact DOVE Canada to initiate relationship. In principle the same process that is listed under becoming a Partner Church (below) will be followed with church planters.

How does an existing Church become a part of DOVE Canada?

The following are the steps for an existing church to become a DOVE Canada partner church.
1. The local church leadership team reads the book House to House by Larry Kreider. This defines our vision.
2. Understand and have the same values as established by the DOVE Canada
3. Understand and agree with the Biblical Foundation Series. This defines our doctrine.
4. The leadership team reads, understands, and agrees with the procedure of DOVE Canada as outlined in this DCFI Leadership Handbook.
5. If the potential Partner Church agrees with the values, vision, doctrine and procedure and is in unity with the DOVE Canada leadership, there needs to be a time set aside for prayer, fasting and waiting before the Lord to receive the Lord?s confirmation before the engagement begins.
6. If the Lord gives His confirmation, then an engagement period begins for at least one year.
7. The Senior Elder and the DOVE Canada leadership begin to build relationship. In some cases the Senior Elder may relate to a designate appointed by the DOVE Canada leadership.
8. Apostolic coverage begins with the established engagement period.
9. Tithing begins by the Senior Elder and the Partner Church at the beginning of the engagement period.
10. The Senior Elder begins to relate to other leaders within his geographical area within the DCFC Family.
11. After the engagement period of one year, the DOVE Canada leadership and the potential Partner Church eldership team must be in full agreement before any commitment is made.
12. If after the year engagement period, there is not agreement, then the DOVE Canada leadership and potential Senior Elder and eldership team need to discern if there is a different direction the Lord may be giving.
13. If there is full agreement between DOVE Canada leadership and the potential Partner Church?s eldership team, a Partnership Agreement will be signed. There will be a public commissioning service.