Imagine

You’ve just finished the last page of the book 5Q. You feel more inspired than a Millennial with the iPhone X and coffee in hand at their newest Start-up that’s gonna change the world.

You feel fulfilled after finishing another book… but you realize this was more than just another book.

This was an infusion of the Jesus Spirit. Your pulse is racing…

This was a paradigm shift. Your head is spinning…

This was an APEST expansion into theology-cosmology-christology-pneumatology-ecclesiology-missiology-eschatology… like drinking from a theo-cosmo-christo-pneuma-eccle-missio firehose. Your body is overwhelmed…

Sigh… where to start?!?

Let’s have a chat about first steps… a practical way to start implementing this stuff. I’m talking about the value of starting a Cohort for 5Q expression and praxis. Read on my friend..

Maybe you’re curious here at the start, how am I implementing 5Q in my local context? Does he walk the walk or just talk the talk?

Through the non-profit organization I founded, Kyrios Ministries, our international team offers APEST Activation workshops to local churches around Austria.

As a passionate team of Jesus followers, we are internally cultivating the 5Q language, recognizing the calling areas, complimenting each other, feeling the tensions, using 5Q thinking (APEST hats) for decision making, and pursuing areas of synergy. Our goal? Display Jesus in his fullness.

Additionally, my wife and I are planting a simple church that’s meeting in a home with APEST as the organizing paradigm of seeing Jesus and being his Body. 

Last but not least — as this will be the focus of our post this week — over the past year I have seen the value of APEST Cohorts in 5Q expression and praxis in two different cities in Austria.

So what is a Cohort?

A cohort is a training group. It is a means of effective discipleship where approximately 5-8 people gather for the purpose of being equipped – fellowship happens and relationship happens out of that – but the explicit purpose of the gathering is to be equipped through practical exercises.  

The goal of the cohort is to provide transformation.

Believers are conformed into the image of Christ – not only who he is but what he does – imitating him in the five areas he ministered in.

They are challenged.

They are equipped.

They gain a clearer recognition of their calling.

 Benefits of Cohort:

+Cohorts are means of effective discipleship

Discipleship: the gradual process of guiding and challenging people to follow Jesus and allowing themselves to be conformed into who he is – his character – as well as what he does – his ministry. A balance of spontaneous and structured. Organized and organic. Broadly speaking, it includes loving Jesus, obeying Jesus, and passing what’s been learned & experienced in Jesus on to others. And the pathways are fivefold:

 

Why are Cohorts effective in doing this? Consider the following: 

+Cohorts reveal complementary areas

One of the first important steps on the 5Q journey is understanding and agreeing upon common language, including definitions of the five areas/functions/callings. (You can find working definitions on the 5Q Blog here, or more thorough ones on pages 99-112 of the 5Q book). As those become clearer in peoples’ minds and hearts, they will recognize where their strengths lie, and therefore also be aware of their weaknesses. While each one needs the other four for health, effectiveness, and wholeness, there does seem to be key partners for each. Take for example, an apostolic person, customarily bursting with ideas, hitting the gas, and founding multiple ventures simultaneously; a prophetic person complements them well by discerning the Father’s heart on those ideas, by pumping the brakes from time to time, and by prioritizing actions. 

In this way, cohort participants will see who they need to surround themselves with to complement their calling. This results in a beautiful dynamic: “As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (Eph 4:16 NLT)

+Cohorts reveal tension

For team dynamics this is key to understand. Tensions aren’t bad, they are usually a sign of growing together. Our flesh can get in the way, but they can also be used as an opportunity to grow. With respect to APEST Cohorts, they reveal the way a person has been wired; in other words, they’re just being true to their specific APEST calling.

When asked to define discipleship, picture this conversation of five people sitting in a circle:

One individual starts by stating discipleship simply means teaching the Word.

The next person hesitates, then explains that discipleship is more like expressing Jesus’ care as a Good Shepherd and creating an atmosphere of healthy community.

“No!” The next one objects, “discipleship is doing what Jesus did when he sent out the twelve:” “‘proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.’’’ (Luke 9:1-2) “Let’s hit the streets!”

Slightly taken aback, the next person adds, “we see that discipleship in the church today needs to be reformed, and we need to get back to the practice of the Presence of God, in prayer, in silence, in worship. After we sensing his heartbeat, we can impart that love or impression to others.”

The last individual, energized by the zealous answers, gathers the words spoken and affirms their confident position, “You’re all right, actually. Discipleship incorporates all of those aspects. But,” he adds, “discipleship also needs to include the aspect of reproduction e.g. multiplication and therefore expansion. And it needs that element injected in the DNA from the start. To experience the Kingdom of God in all it’s fullness is to multiply discipleship.”

Next time there’s tension in any group you’re in, stop and consider what APEST lens they are looking through, and recognize they may simply be expressing 

+Cohorts provide an focused dose of 5Q 

Like an intensive course at college, a Cohort takes a deep dive into the A.P.E.S.T. realm by looking at each of the apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, shepherding and teaching areas, dispelling the myths about each of them, exploring their strengths and weaknesses, and engaging in exercises that will stimulate your spiritual muscles to grow. 

The Cohorts I started were 3 months long, meeting weekly, and the other one was 9 months long, meeting about every three weeks. This focused dose allows people to commit to a specific time period and really zero in on the APEST typology.

+Cohorts generate interactive synergy

God designed us to live in relationship with one another. It’s no coincidence then that the higher amount of interaction with one another and experiential elements present, the more effective we learn. Through a cohort you have the value of learning together, peer-to-peer. This interaction leads to a combined synergistic effect. Alan emphasizes in 5Q, ”Jesus has intended that we are better and more effective together than we can ever be apart — this is why we are called to strive to maintain our God-given unity. The Body of Christ is a synergistic synthesis composed of many parts.” As I added in my Amazon review of 5Q, “The synergy of the five is nothing short of a game-changer if we allow, pursue, and activate the fullness of Christ.” (Haven’t left a review yet? Write yours here). This interaction leads to synergy amongst one another — and on a bigger scale — for the Kingdom.

+Cohorts are great ‘pilot groups’ for churches

Shifting culture can take years, but as Neil Cole says, “water the green spot.” Gather those 5-8 in your church (or across churches) that are hungry, available, and teachable and start watering. Wisdom advises to inform the leadership that you and a few others are gathering for biblical discipleship and purposing to exercise your faith along the lines in Ephesians 4:11-13. Invite them to pop in if they like, and share you’ll keep them updated how it progresses. Ideally, time on Sunday can be allowed for testimonies over some weeks, which sparks curiosity, hunger and faith.

 +Cohorts are an ancient-future method

Back to the roots baby! The ancient method of being a disciple of the Rabbi, learning by doing, was Jesus method of effective discipleship. Cohorts seem to be popping up everywhere, both in Christian and secular circles, and yet this “new” method is really just coming full circle to rediscovering the original way of the Master.

What is the content of the Cohort?

That’s up to you! Rather than prescribe a curriculum of studies, keep it fresh and active. Focus on equipping. Always check the motivation of love and point to Jesus.   

Look at each of the apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, shepherding and teaching areas, agree on a common language, dispel the myths about each of them, explore their strengths and weaknesses, and engage in exercises that will stimulate your spiritual muscles to grow. 

Regarding the cohorts I mentioned at the beginning, I took them through the exercises in a training I’ve written called The Pulse of Christ: A Fivefold Training Manual to activate APEST.

You could go through each of these 5Q blog posts once a week, which reduces 5Q (the book) down to bitesize pieces, and you get to hear valuable voices of various APEST practitioners.

If you are looking for a study approach, The Permanent Revolution Playbook is an excellent guide.  Also, keep your eyes peeled for upcoming 5Q Modules and other resources from the 5Q Collective.

Final Tip.

Starting a Cohort can be as easy as 1,2,3….

  1. Pray: who and when and where Jesus?
  2. Consider what content you want to use to train
  3. Be guided by the Spirit as you adapt, flow, love and guide others.

Just Do It

The value of Cohorts for 5Q Expression and Praxis is invaluable. We learn by doing, the Jesus way. Synergy is generated through tension as well as identifying complimentary areas. Cohorts are a simple way to calm the pulse, stop the spinning mind, and process the firehose that the 5Q book was. I’d encourage you to start biting off chunks of 5Q and breaking them down into bite-sized pieces, swallowing and digesting them for activating in the Body. If I or others at 5Q can help you along the way, feel free to get in touch. Take that first step. Pause and pray…

Questions for discussion below: Do you see the value in starting a 5Q Cohort? What would excite you about that? What’s the biggest hindrance for you to start one? Who do you need to intentionally surround yourself with to compliment your base gifting?

Nathan Brewer on Facebook
Nathan Brewer
Nathan is the Founder and Director of Kyrios Ministries where he and his family currently live in Vienna, Austria. The author of The Pulse of Christ: A Fivefold Training Manual, Nathan is a discipler and coach in Europe, using the 5Q principles to strengthen the Church, her leaders and believers. Some obligatory bio fav's: Soccer, exploring new countries & cultures, waterfalls, photography, and Mexican food!