Last week, we looked at a part of the Bible that you probably have never read. In doing so, we learned that Jesus descended into the grave, defeated Death and then like the King of Psalm 68, he returned in victory sharing the spoils of Life with his Body, the Church. He gave gifts to his people, sharing what he had won. These gifts are the personalities of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd and Teacher.
This 5Q paradigm (APEST) is the five modes of Christ’s presence in the world today.5Q at work in the Body of Christ is the five modes of Christ’s presence in the world today. Click To Tweet
When we look at Ephesians 4:12-16 we see what is possible in the body of Christ when all five gifts are working together – symphonically. However, when one or two are dominant (and the rest diminished or non existent) the symphony of Ephesians 4:12-16 is completely silent.
In his research and global conversations, Alan Hirsch has discovered that most churches have two prominent systems at work, the Shepherd and Teacher systems.
Shepherds are builders of caring community. They are called to tender hearted peace-making, reconcilers that develop unity where believers nurture conflict. Shepherds are soul healers.
Teachers maintain the strong foundation of Christian knowledge. They model wisdom and are trustworthy guides through the faith. Teachers are intensely curious, curating truth as they mind and shape the legacy of the traditions that have been passed on to them.
At his point in our history, most churches exist to perpetuate of systems of shepherding and teaching; and that isn’t a bad thing in itself, but the Shepherd/Teachers are internal functions, only some of the necessary systems of a healthy body. We need the outward, apostolic gifts.
Shepherd/Teacher systems, alone are not the church, just as the nervous system and circulatory system alone are not a body. We need some muscles and bones!
The above picture diagrams the five systems at work, keeping the church in top condition [via Jon Ritner].
Shepherds (S) work within the circle to maintain community in all directions.
Teachers (T) hold down the foundation. They keep the Church on the ground.
But remember, while S/T are good gifts, they are not all of the gifts. There are three others: Apostle (A), Prophet (P) and Evangelist (E) – the APE. Sadly, we believe that the APE is on the verge of extinction in the American Church today and we need to do everything it takes to bring the APE back where it belongs – into the full, shared ministry of the Church. And why would you not want to?
Apostles are the future minded, “next” collectors. They are ground-breakers, agents of change, visionaries who pioneer and innovate. They are forward movers, mapping uncharted spaces and hungering for their next risk to take.
Prophets listen to God then find a way to share what they’ve experienced. They uphold the power of God’s word among his people, reminding us what we have done, what we have left undone and tell us the truth about how we might lean further into a life that mirrors Jesus.
Evangelists tell God’s story, listen to our story and then help us connect our story to God’s story. They see a circle and find ways to make it bigger. They recruit and share the good news in ways that moves people one step closer to the God who loves them.
The first century church was a movement that went where no one else would go (A). It called out sin and injustice (P), included and enlarged to embrace others (E). AND it taught (T) and cared (S).
The Body of Christ needs teaching and community building, the inner functions, but she also requires the APE gifts to move outward and reach the fullness of her calling.
Alan Hirsch says it as boldly as possible in his new book:
There has never been a Jesus movement w/long-term impact that did not also use all #5Q gifts Click To Tweet
The basic theory underlying The Forgotten Ways has been accepted as sound by academics and leaders around the world. So when I say what I am about to say, I say it with some authority: As far as I can determine, there has never been a Jesus movement with long-term societal impact that did not also have the fivefold fully operative in its organization and among its members. As far as I can tell, it simply does not happen.
The Apostle Paul’s vision for a church with all five pistons firing (5Q) is so powerful in what it can accomplish. In verses, 12-16, we see the fullness of what is possible when 5Q is normative in the leadership and membership of the Body of Christ:
Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. 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.
Church, we need to re-emphasize the ministry of the APE gifts if we want to see the Mission of God to become a movement on Earth!
Viva la APE!We must re-emphasize the APE gifts to see the Mission of God become a movement on Earth! #5Q Click To Tweet
Alan’s new book, 5Q: Reactivating The Original Intelligence And Capacity Of The Body Of Christ, is a huge step in mentoring Church leaders who want to see a realignment to a five fold gift dynamic in their ministries. If you need some perspective, check out this brand new review of Alan’s book and its summary recommendation.
As always, your voice is crucial to the 5Q discussion. How are you seeing the APE make a come back? Tell us in the comments.