Pattern and Presence, Apostolic and Prophetic: Why Both Are Important

Apostolic and PropheticIn the Old Testament (OT) Moses received directly from God the pattern of worship, which included the tabernacle, the priesthood and the sacrifices. [1] The law given by God to Moses was a format that guided their worship and their everyday lives. Once the pattern was in place, it simply needed to be followed exactly as God instructed.

‘Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face…’ (Deut 34:10)

Moses also led by Presence. Moses met with God personally, encountering His manifest Presence. Face to face with God, he received instructions and directions to help him lead God’s people. Moses’ personal conversations with God included intimate conversation, as well as dealing with difficult issues and sin in the Israelite camp, receiving instructions concerning their journey and keys to breakthrough such as warfare and provisions needed along the way.

Pattern, Presence and the New Testament Church

In the New Testament (NT), the pattern of worship received by Moses is fulfilled in Christ Jesus and the New Covenant replaces the Old Covenant. However, the principle of leading by Pattern and Presence continues.

From the beginning of the NT Church, the Apostles and believers followed the patterns established by Jesus. These included gathering together, prayer, worship, and the Apostles’ teaching, as well as the institutions of Baptism and Communion (the Lord’s Supper).

The Apostles received further revelation from God concerning the building of the church, and set in place leadership and governance.

But the church was not only led by Divinely-appointed pattern and order. Throughout the New Testament we see that the Holy Spirit was intimately involved in matters of leadership and guidance. Through the prophetic revelation received from the Holy Spirit, leaders discerned timing and specific guidance from God.

Because of the relationship every Christian has with God, hearing God’s instruction was no longer restricted to prophets. We read of Apostolic leaders who heard from the Holy Spirit and responded to Him. [2]

Although Pattern and Presence is not limited to the Apostolic and Prophetic ministries, it is clearly illustrated in them.

  • The function of the Apostle includes appointing leaders, governing, establishing order, planting and growing churches. [3]
  • The Prophet seeks God for the ‘now’ word of what He is doing, for His future intended purpose, and to know what His heart is. The prophet also inspires and equips believers to grow in maturity in their own relationship with God. [4]

How to Identify Pattern or Presence Orientation

The orientation towards Pattern or Presence is not limited to Apostles and Prophets. [5] Many Christian leaders today will find that they relate in a general way more to one than the other.

A leader who relates mostly to ‘Pattern’ may:

  • Have a definite sense that a program, format or project they are leading is ordained by God
  • Value strong, directive leadership in themselves and others
  • Highly value Apostolic oversight and respond well when Pattern-type directives are given
  • Prioritise establishing God-given order—a clear pattern to follow in terms of process or leadership—in his or her area of ministry. [6]

A leader who relates mostly to ‘Presence’ may:

  • Tend towards taking a more fluid approach to leadership
  • Prioritise hearing from God as the primary means of guidance for any given leadership area or meeting
  • Have a strong focus on God’s Presence and anointing
  • Highly value prophets and the prophetic
  • Be inclined to believe that set formats could endanger what God is doing.

Both types of leadership are needed in the church today. Both are gifts by God to the Church. And each needs to appreciate and make room for each other.

A leader who relates mostly to ‘Pattern’ needs to:

  • Prioritise personal relationship with God and also seek God for His ‘now’ word concerning his or her ministry
  • Value the input of (and make room for) those who have prophetic gifts or insights or who are more ‘Presence’-oriented
  • Consider having a complementary ‘Presence’-oriented leader alongside in a support role
  • Be prepared to adapt and be flexible when God’s anointing and blessing is no longer evident on a program or format.

A leader who relates mostly to ‘Presence’ needs to:

  • Value Pattern leadership and especially honour those that are in oversight
  • Graciously accept direction by a Pattern leader who is over them in ministry
  • Accommodate those in their care who are ‘Pattern’-oriented (perhaps providing structure when necessary)
  • Consider having a complementary, ‘Pattern’-oriented leader alongside in a support role
  • Recognise that God can and will direct through a God-ordained pattern, model or set format
  • Have a process of accountability in the area of prophetic insights being received personally as well as for the ministry.

I believe there is value in viewing Pattern and Presence as two distinct styles as I have done above. But of course, the two emphases are not mutually exclusive, and most leadership will (and should) combine them to a certain extent.


[1] The Hebrew word for ‘pattern’ used in the verse of the tabernacle is tabhnith, meaning ‘model’, ‘structure’ or resemblance.’ (Strongs #8403) Our English word ‘pattern’, means a repeated design or method—I believe the two definitions are complementary in this context.

[2] The Apostle Paul is an example of a leader in the NT who led both by ‘Pattern’ and ‘Presence.’ He had a custom (pattern) in his missionary journeys of going to the synagogue first (Acts 17:2). He planted churches, appointed leaders and established function and order. He also led his team by the Spirit and the ‘now’ word of God. (‘Presence’) e.g. see Acts 16:10

[3] Some examples: Titus 1:5, 1 Cor 14, Acts 15, 1 Cor 9:1-2

[4] Some examples: Acts 13:1-3, Acts 11:28-30, Eph 4:11-16

[5] This is why I have omitted to use the terms ‘Prophetic’ and ‘Apostolic’ in the above lists—although they are clearly relevant.

[6] Whilst I am considering this from a gift/ministry perspective, not a personality perspective, the two can be inter-related. However it is possible for a leader to be task and structure-oriented by way of personality, but be prophetically-oriented in terms of ministry and spiritual gifts.

Which do you relate most to: Pattern or Presence-oriented leadership, or both? Can you think of other ways in which each type of gifted leader needs to adapt to and value the other? If the comments box is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.

Related Posts:

Why Timothy Is One Of My Leadership Role Models

Celebrate the Unique Gift and DNA of Your Church

Is Your Church Prophetic?

© Helen Calder Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching

On team with David McCracken Ministries: Prophetic Ministry That Empowers The Church

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4 thoughts on “Pattern and Presence, Apostolic and Prophetic: Why Both Are Important”

  1. Kumar Raju Komannapalli

    Dear Sister,

    Greetings to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, It is always much exciting to know each other across overseas or at any corner of this globe. I am so blessed to know your ministry and would ask your prayers either for bringing your ministry unto us or visiting us in India to minister with the Word of God either in any outreach or in a conference for reaching the unreached and for winning souls, and to equip, empower, encourage our Pastors & Leaders in India in this year.

    I would really like to hear from you very soon, until that time I keep remain in prayers for you my brother. Love you in Jesus.

    In His Rich Love

    Pastor Kumar

    +91 990 873 1677.


    Kumar Raju Komannapalli

    3-141, Friends Colony

    J. R. Puram Village & Post

    Ranastalam Town / Mandal

    Srikakulam District

    Andhra Pradesh State


    Pin : 532 407.

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