Frontline Blog

The Forgotten Ways 5 – John Harding

Categories: Authentic Devotion,Bible,Church,Confident Witness,Kingdom Impact,Principles

As a Senior Leadership Team we’ve been huddling (leadership development / coaching circle) around Alan Hirsch’s book, the Forgotten Ways. The book was originally written in 2006, it was a fantastic book back then, but Hirsch has re-written it with lots of new material. The first half of the book is basically an observational study of gospel movements around the world that have grown and made a significant impact in the world around them; the Earliest Church and the Chinese underground church, to name but 2. He then identifies across these movements 6 themes or threads that they all had in common – DNA strands, his analysis of which makes up the second part of the book. In this blog series I’m going to reflect on some of the insights we’ve gleaned from going through the book.

5. APEST Culture
In Ephesians 4:11-13 we read how Christ has gifted the church with people who lead out of distinct and diverse gifting. This five-fold ministry is traditionally expressed as Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher. Hirsch changes Pastor to Shepherd to create the acronym APEST.

The APEST gifts are leadership gifts. They allow for different types and styles of leadership. Sure, all of us should tell others about Jesus (evangelise), all of us should look after one another (pastor), and all should hear from God and speak that out (prophecy), but usually we are wired towards one or two of these gifts in greater measure. The point of these gifts is to ‘equip the saints for works of service’ Eph 4:12. So an Eph 4 APEST leader operating out of apostolic gifting is less concerned with personally pioneering and planting and more concerned with equipping and resources others to plant. Our very own Dave Sharples is a great example of this. Yes he’s an evangelist, but by producing the 4points resources he’s helping to equip the church to evangelise.

Often when people start to explore APEST and five-fold ministry they do so to find out about themselves, how they’ve been gifted – and that’s a great starting point. But the thing I love about what Alan Hirsch has brought to the table, is that he sees APEST as a team building diagnostic. He challenges us to think about what giftings are present in our teams and what gifting are absent and need to be added.

As a Senior Leadership Team we’ve tried to engage with this seriously. It’s why we brought Chris Kent (as someone with Evangelism as a primary gifting) and Anna Evans (primarily Prophet gifting) into the SLT to strengthen, balance and diversify. I believe we are a more impactful team as a result. As individual leaders we’re trying to develop that gifting in others. So for example, I personally would say my giftings are Apostle and Teacher. So I try and channel my time and energy into investing into our church planters and potential church planters as an Apostle, and as a Teacher to develop, resource and train our Sunday speakers.

If you’re involved in leadership or aspire to be leading in any shape or form within Frontline, I’d really encourage you to reflect on what your unique APEST gift is and what it might look like for you to outwork your role from that strength. I’d also encourage you to look at the others you serve with, especially in the missional community context, and think about how you can get the pastors pastoring, the teachers teaching and the evangelists mobilising the group in evangelism.

You might find Mike Breen’s a helpful starting point.