This week I had someone ask me what got me involved in the topic of APEST. I shared how I found APEST to be part of the solution for two different issues.

Church Planting

When I planted a church many years ago, I realized pretty quickly that I did not fit the traditional “pastor” role. I worked hard at trying to be a better shepherd. But regardless of all of my attempts to sharpen those ministry skills, I knew I didn’t live up to expectations that others had of me as their leader. Instead, I knew I was created to start things, to pioneer, to architect and innovate. As I began to engage APEST, I realized my calling, or vocation, was much more apostolic. For the first time, I understood how my gifting fit into the body of Christ.

Activating all the people of God

I always struggled with how “non-pastors” fit into the mission and ministry of the church. The only lens I had in my early days of ministry was for “lay-people” to become pastor/teachers (like me and every other pastor), or to be available to volunteer for empty slots in my ministry plan. APEST helped me see that the five-fold gifts are given by Jesus to the body, not simply leaders. Therefore, APEST provided a biblical framework to activate all the people of God for the maturity of the body (help to diminish the clergy-laity divide), but at the same time it also provided a way to understand how our vocations fit into the marketplace, or broader culture (help to diminish the sacred-secular divide). 

Since my introduction to APEST, I would add that there has been a progression in my understanding and convictions. In the beginning, it was helpful to see APEST, not as roles or offices in the church, but as individual callings. It was also important to see these vocations existed not for the benefit of the individual, but for the maturity of the body.

Later, with the help of Alan Hirsch’s writings, I came to see that Jesus is the perfect expression on APEST. As Alan shares in the book 5Q, the Ministry of Christ (MOX) is given to the Body of Christ (BOX), which results in the Fullness of Christ (FOX).

Finally, one of the most powerful aspects of APEST is seeing the gifts not merely as personal callings, but as functions of the church. Ask is the church to be apostolic? Is the church to be prophetic? Is the church to be evangelistic? Is the church to be a shepherding and teaching community? Of course, the answer to each of these questions is a resounding yes! If this is indeed the case, then there are no better “marks” to help define what the church is, and what the church does. I believe a much more helpful and powerful way to think about the marks of the church would look like this:

Missional Impact (A)
Covenant Faithfulness (P)
Gospel Proclamation (E)
Reconciled Community (S)
Deep Wisdom (T)

If for some reason you have reservations about an aspect of APEST, please take the time and do the research. Your church will thank you.

If you want to learn more about APEST and how it should inform the way we think about the body of Christ I would suggest the following resources.

This articles was originally published @ missionalchurchnetwork.com