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?

We believe that the APE is on the verge of extinction in the American Church today Click To Tweet.

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:

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.

There has never been a Jesus movement w/long-term impact that did not also use all #5Q gifts Click To Tweet

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.

[Thanks to Jon Ritner who has graciously allowed the sermon material from Ecclesia Hollywood’s current series, “Collaborative Church,” to be edited for the blog]

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.

Chris Harrison
Chris is a husband of one, father of three, musician, creative, storyteller, futurist and Editor-At-Large of the 5Q blog. After more than twenty years in youth, worship and lead ministries in Los Angeles and Phoenix, he and his wife, Rebecca, are planting a new multi-ethnic faith community in Houston, TX. You can catch his other APEST related posts and assorted musings at his new blog,

12 thoughts on “Bringing The APE Back From Near Extinction

  • October 18, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    Hi Alan. I’d say I was introduced to the APEST through a personal prophetic word in 1986 indicating I was going to be a part of a full court press involvement with it. However, that was delayed for many years. Why? Superemphasis of my local church, Pentecostal-based denomination and associated Bible school on ST. Thank God I am free now and even do some teaching on it as well now. We need these truths. Thanks for this post. In parting I have some bothersome questions: How and when did the Church adopt this sole ST system? How it got started? Are there sources that tell us? If you can shed some light it would bring some solace:)

    • October 20, 2017 at 5:48 am

      Read the Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch – it will help you with this question.

      • Chris Harrison
        October 22, 2017 at 3:12 pm

        Hey Bill, thanks for joining the conversation! We appreciate the nod to the Forgotten Ways. Definitely a book that should be…forgotten.

      • October 23, 2017 at 4:30 pm

        Thanks Bill. This is great! Will certainly look it up. Blessings, Peter

      • October 23, 2017 at 4:32 pm

        This is great! Thanks Bill. Will read. Blessings, Peter

      • October 23, 2017 at 4:33 pm

        This is great! Thanks for the resource, Bill. Blessings, Peter

    • Chris Harrison
      October 22, 2017 at 3:11 pm

      Hi Peter, we are so excited that you started a great conversation. Bill F. has really answered your question. Reading Alan’s work is an in depth primer on how we got here. While each book paves a way forward, none move us as far forward as the new book, 5Q does.

      Jon Ritner, Pastor of Ecclesia Church in Hollywood, has been preaching through 5Q in a fantastic series called “Collaborative Church”. While he addresses your question in just about every sermon in the series, the message on the Teacher has some great material. Try this one out!

      • October 23, 2017 at 1:08 pm

        Ok Chris. Thank you. Will check out.

  • October 20, 2017 at 8:54 am

    Insightful and true post. My wife and I have been part of many different churches over our lifetime together. From our initial Lutheran upbringing through the charismatic awakening, which then devolved into the discipleship sheparding movement. We then got involved with another Christian movement and found it to be again and sadly, what you wrote, “stultifying”. To much emphasis on teaching and a what is commonly referred to as “contemporary worship” or what I think of as”contemplative interuptus”. It seems to me that a one hour gathering of seekers at a church building should be more than a scripted session for the mind which often finds it’s pleasure through measurable accomplishment and checking things off at the end of the hour.
    Our own experience through the crucible of profound loss and lostness, pain, confusion, and tears has collapsed our pretensions of God in ways that all we can do is live in the moment and also experience the unknowing mystery in which we have been lovingly and intimately called.
    I’m gratified by your acknowledgement for the need of innovators and truth tellers in the church and at the same time I don’t think the present day church structure can handle the shear size of God’s expansive call. In these unsettled times the alternative church obscura is finding fertile ground and awaking outside the fours walls of it’s identity and containment. Out in the streets of common everyday life I experience sacred meeting spaces with brothers and sisters who don’t think of themselves as Christians but whose hearts expand with love, tenderness and honest seeking. I used to think that I had to get them into a church to quantify them and truth, I given that up and now allow myself to celebrate and learn from them as they teach me in the ways they love.
    I’m not looking for an end to church but an expansion and greater inclusion. Newtonian physics functions in a very small awareness of entropy, all things falling apart, where as Quantum physics lays out a much larger picture of expansion into novelty, through transcendence and inclusion. I believe the church is in a painful stage of differentiation where the old ways don’t work anymore. There is a call into the unknown and transcendence, giving up the old ways (very unsettling). Here is a call to embrace the “already existing” church outside the four walls by not always claiming to have all the answers but sharing humbly in the questions. I like the word novelty as expressed in this physics because it speaks of listening first and allowing the serendipity of humble relationship to create something totally new and unexpected, like the Trinity in the creation of the cosmos or the mystery of love between a man and woman co-creating a new and magically unique baby.
    I’ve been seduced by this Mystery as a co-creative with God and I’m also excited to see what this great Mystery will birth anew. The birth pangs are upon us but I look forward beyond the pain with holy expectation for the baby, because that’s what it’s all about.
    Thank you so much for your post and your deep love expressed for God’s children.

    • Chris Harrison
      October 22, 2017 at 3:17 pm

      Hey Mark, we feel you! The pain that you are describing is something that so many are experiencing and one of the catalysts for Alan’s writing. If you haven’t already, check out the Permanent Revolution and the new 5Q book. In those pages, you discover that the alt. church obscura is simply “church” now. Alan lists so many movements, so many churches that are returning to the powerful DNA that Jesus has gifted the church with. You aren’t alone! I’d suggest the books and listening to sermons from leaders in the 5Q movement. Peace to you.

  • October 20, 2017 at 9:10 am

    I am so thoroughly excited to partake of this information. I wholeheartedly agree that the APE gifts are essential to developing and maintaining a “healthy” and “biblical” church, especially in these latter days and end times as there are so many supposedly “doctrinal” voices speaking. But I am reminded of Apostle Paul’s admonition to Timothy in 1Timothy 4:1, that there shall be a “falling away” from the faith, because of paying attention to “deceitful spirits” and “doctrines of demons” (paraphrased). By God’s grace I have lived over 66 years and I have seen with my own eyes the progressive downfall of the APE presence in our local churches and my heart is grieved. Nevertheless, and by large because of having been introduced to your ministry by way of JR Woodard’s ministry, I am elated that an organization such as yours exist and I intend to feed on the information you are bringing to light concerning the restoration of the APE to the ST headship of our Lord’s Church. Thank you for saying “yes” to the Spirit’s call and voice of God in these times. God Bless you and May He keep you hedged in his presence and power as you press forth in the very needful ministry and education of the Body of Christ. Peace!

    • Chris Harrison
      October 22, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      Blessings to you, Barbara. We are so grateful that you have joined the conversation. Thank you for following the Holy Spirit with us as we follow the Messiah toward His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

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