Is 5Q The (almost) Silver Bullet Your Church Needs?

Today, we offer you a challenging excerpt from the new book, 5Q: Reactivating The Original Intelligence Of The Body Of Christ. It’s no secret that the Church has some hurdles to conquer in order to become the missional movement that is embedded in its genetic code. In today’s post, Alan addresses this and answers all of us who wonder, “Is there a silver bullet that will just fix everything?”

Read on to find out how 5Q can lead to actual transformation in the 21st Century Church.

While I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a silver bullet—a single solution that will resolve all our problems—nonetheless I have come to believe that 5Q, properly understood and applied, is almost a silver bullet. Because of its sheer elegance, its theological resonance, and its promise of a more dynamic ministry, adopting it will change everything … for the better.

The metaphor “the sharp edge of the wedge” captures the strategic significance of the whole APEST conversation. Though sometimes used in a foreboding sense, when applied to a revolutionary idea the metaphor of the sharp edge of the wedge refers to something seemingly insignificant that, if adopted, will bring about major changes. Picture a wedge used to split logs. The thin/sharper end breaks through the surface, making it possible to split the log into smaller pieces. The Bedouin Arabs use a similar metaphor: When a camel’s nose is in the tent, watch out!—the rest of the camel is coming in after it.

I believe that the fivefold conversation being pursued in this book is likewise the nose of the camel in the tent, ushering in a rush of insights and opening up a whole new way of seeing the church.

In the lifelong study of the nature (phenomenology) of missional movements that deliver societal impact articulated in my book The Forgotten Ways, I identify six crucial elements that are all necessary if the church is to achieve transformational impact. Each of these “mDNA” (Jesus Centered, Disciple Making, Risky Engagement, Incarnational Mission, APEST Culture, and an Organic System) must all be present and active in the system for movement to happen. Furthermore, when one of the mDNA is removed or delegitimized, it diminishes the entire system and hinders the emergence of movement. This can be seen in later Methodism which undermined its own initial success by eliminating the APE from its orders of ministry.

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! Whether the New Testament church, the early church in the first few centuries, the Celtic movement, Early Methodism, or the Chinese underground church, the phenomenon and the explicit language of APEST is demonstrably evident in movements that change the world.

At the risk of seeming to claim too much, as a long-term practitioner in APEST thinking, I suggest that fivefold-thinking:

  • provides us with a much more biblically legitimate understanding of ministry than the disastrously reduced one we currently have among Western churches, which have almost universally narrowed ministry to suit (APE)ST understandings of the church
  • reminds us that ministry is the birthright of the entire Body of Christ—including all of God’s people—and not something limited to the roles of the so-called clergy
  • invigorates our theology by reframing the doctrine of God to include a theology of APEST, allowing us different perspectives on how we understand God, the world, and the church
  • provides us with an inbuilt self-regenerative mechanism for maturity, and the promise of a way to attain fullness in Christ
  • gives insight to people’s unique callings by creating a distinctive APEST profile that relates personal vocation directly to the ministry of Christ. I believe that APEST profile provides insights into people’s spirituality, motivations, aptitudes, and passions. (Do the test at for a multilayered profile of your calling.)
  • develops pathways to discipleship and leadership both within and beyond the ecclesial community. In fact Paul directly relates “attaining to the fullness of Christ” to the levels of APEST present in the church. By discipling along APEST lines a church can become “mature” (Ephesians 4:13)
  • helps us articulate ministry as something related to all of life and not something limited to the social confines of the ecclesial community
  • gives us practical tools for the assessment and development of ministry and mission along APEST lines. (Along with the more sophisticated 5Q System Test and the APEST Vocational Profile, there are a number of such tools presented at the end of this book.)
  • provides us with expanded ways in which we can interpret and understand nuances in Scripture (hermeneutics). The prophetic perspective sheds light on Scripture in a way that the pastoral does not. The apostolic approach would be different from the systematic theological approach of the teacher, and so on.

It is for [these reasons] that any embrace of the fivefold typology holds out huge promise for the systemic renewal of the Christian movement and its ministry. All I know is that if I were a leader of a large denomination, I’d restructure its ministry and priorities around APEST. I’d do exactly the same in the local church or organization.”

How has this post informed, challenged or transformed the way you want to pursue leading change and spiritual growth in your church or organization? Let us know in the comments. 

Exciting training and resources are about to roll out. We are counting down the days! Seriously. So much time, love and intention has gone into the next phase of 5Q.

Stay Tuned! Love!