Starting a church in a Starbucks in Europe, or in the open air at Bixby Park in downtown Long Beach, or doing open mic nights in a gay coffee house make for some awesome stories to tell.
And…there are other moments that almost became stories, but thankfully never did.
The reason for this has to do with the counterbalance that I need to have as an apostolic leader.
As an apostolic serial church planter, I’m always looking to push the boundaries and mobilize the church to the frontline of mission. This could run the risk of getting me into tons of trouble were it not for the other 5Q leaders who make up the APEST leadership structure of Ephesians 4:10.
For instance, there was the time in Europe when I was eager to start a church in a truck stop off a major motorway, one gathering would meet in the rest stop and another in the coffee house. I had talked to the manager and gotten approval. As far as I was concerned, everything was all lined up.
Then one of the shepherds on our leadership team spoke up. “Peyton, what about the children?” I’d already thought that one out and my response was quick. “There is a ball pit in the Burger King. That should keep them busy.”
Needless to say, they had to help me see that perhaps I hadn’t thought that one through as much as was needed. In hindsight, I’m really glad that there is no story to tell about the Burger King childrens’ ministry.Apostles move quickly, shepherds move carefully, so the church moves certainly Click To Tweet
There was also the time that I wanted to buy a gas station on the corner in one of Long Beach’s most deadly neighborhoods and meet in the open air despite drive-by shootings.
Yeah, that didn’t happen, thanks to the balance of our team.
An Ascension Shaped Hole
When Paul describes the 5Q paradigm in Ephesians 4, he mentions that the Body of Christ grows as each gift is exercised and that each of the five roles pulls and tugs at the Body, shaping the Church as we fill the Jesus-shaped hole left by the ascension.
As Christ ascended from the world, he gave these gifts to replenish the world with himself, ‘little-Christs’ as C.S Lewis puts it.
As I exercise my apostolic gifting within the Body, I encourage and activate the apostolic gene that lays dormant in each and every Christian.
But the influence of my gift can also be a weakness. If all you have acting within a congregation is the Apostle, then your church becomes a sending station.
When Only One Gift Leads
If all you have acting within a congregation is the Prophet leader, the church becomes a circus.
If all you have acting within a congregation is the Evangelist, then the church becomes a stadium crusade (I see that hand brother!).
If all you have acting within a congregation is the Shepherd, then the church becomes a counseling session.
If all you have acting within a congregation is the Teacher, then your church becomes a classroom, and when we multiply them, we call them campuses.
When we bring the 5 gifts together we become like Jedi who bring balance to the Force, but left on our own, one dominant gifting can lead a church down the path to the Dark Side.
No matter how great our gift is, or how strong our call is, if we aren’t balanced by those God has given to us, we risk distorting the body of Christ until it no longer looks like Jesus, but becomes “twisted…more machine than man”.
God hardwired the APEST gifts to balance one another out and it takes intention to see them do so.
Allow me to give an example: The Apostle and Prophet work very well together, but they don’t balance each other.
Same with the Shepherd and Teacher.
The Apostle and Prophet are both radical in pace and intention, whereas the shepherd and teacher are both more conservative, cautious.
We need both approaches, as my personal examples illustrate. What I’ve noticed is that God has overbalanced the Body of Christ with a ratio of 3:2, radical to conservative, by throwing the evangelist in the mix.
In experience, the Evangelist is the radical in the bunch that is balanced by all. The other four gifts steady them on all sides. If I drew a diagram, it would show the other four personalities acting as counter-balance. In actuality, there may be no balancing an evangelist – awesome in power, wild in practice! However, if it’s possible, it’s going to take the other four to shepherd and guide them.
And Speaking Of Balance
We’ve noticed that the perfect balance to the Apostle is the Shepherd, whereas the balance for the Prophet is the Teacher.
The Apostle and Shepherd balance each other because the Apostle always mobilizes the body to focus out and the Shepherd mobilizes them to take care of what’s within. One is wired for health, the other for impact. It’s a natural partnership.
The prophetic leader and Teacher are perfect counterbalances. The Prophet needs to make sure that things are constantly being tested against scripture, validated and safe to believe in. Teachers need prophetic leaders to help them avoid simply becoming professors who solely lecture about information and acts of discipleship that they’ve never experienced.
The more that we study the APEST model, the more genius we find in it. I’m particularly grateful to Alan for what he has so meticulously researched and artfully articulated. As a practitioner in APEST, 5Q is a collaborative conversation that skillfully defines what I have learned through experience.
For myself, Alan has truly done the Church a great service by providing us with new language to express what Jesus has been up to all along.
Reading 5Q has been like watching the next Star Wars sequel to find out more about the balance that Christ has brought to the church.
Get the book, Bring Balance to the Force!