Gifts of God in Your Church

Next worship gathering:   Postponing to Saturday October 15 due to Hurricane Matthew.  We’ll gather next week at 6:30pm in the St. Johns Room at Faith Community Church (3450 CR219 32259).  

A couple of years ago, I wrote the blog post below.  We’re going to reexamining Ephesians 4:11-12 in the coming weeks.  Enjoy.

Do you know who you have in your MC, church, or ministry?  You have been given gifts from God – and those gifts are the people who are with you.  Starting a church, I can say that each person feels so much like a precious gift from God.  That’s good for me as a pastor.  But they are also gifts in another sense.  The role God has for them in the MC is a gift.

We’ve been looking at APEST recently in our communities.   I taught about it and gave everyone some tasks related to learning and personal discernment.  On top of that, I heard Alan Hirsch speak on it last week at the ECO/Fellowship of Presbyterians gathering in Dallas.  So I guess the whole five fold ministry thing is very much on our minds.

What, you may ask, is the five fold ministry all about?  It’s rooted in a re-examination of Ephesians 4, and especially 4:11-12.   APEST is an acronymn for each of the leader types mentioned in the passage: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds, and Teachers.  In the past, I’ve read that as a passage on leadership in the church – and focused on the task of leadership, rather than the types of roles leaders play in the church.  But actually, I think it is less about leadership.  Actually, everyone in the church who is filled with the Spirit of God is wired to function in one of those roles.

Very quickly and (admittedly, too) simply: Apostles advance God’s Kingdom by establishing missions, ministries and churches; Prophets speak God’s truth and justice into current circumstances; Evangelists draw people into God’s kingdom, Shepherds gather and care for the God’s people; Teachers help people understand the truth contained in God’s Word.  If you are trying to build a ministry, and God has brought you a few people, it is very likely that the people in your ministry are ready to function in one of those roles.  Here are a few examples that comet to mind.

  • If you were starting a ministry, it would help to know who the apostolic people were.
  • If you were trying to draw people in, it’d be wise to motivate and encourage the evangelists.
  • If you were venturing into challenging waters, it might be a good time to hear from the prophets and have the shepherds ready.
  • If you were trying to teach something new to a congregation, you may want to spend some getting the teachers geared up.

It makes a lot of sense to use the “gifts” God has given to accomplish the work God has set before you.  And recognizing who God has given in terms of their kingdom roles may also shape how you approach the missions to which you are called.

So, we are definitely in the realm of starting a new thing with  FCMC.  We just spent some time on praying and reflecting on APEST, each of us working with one another to discern how we are wired for ministry.  And you know, the results were interesting.  I think God’s put us together for a ministry related to teaching.  In both our MCs, God has pulled together a heap of people whose primary gifting is “teacher”.   Hmm.  And we’re all interested in learning new things.

There are many five-fold ministries/APEST tests available.  (www.fivefoldsurvey.com for example).  Alan Hirsch’s team has an in-depth test that costs $10 or $25 for a team – and it will provide you with a good profile.

Below you will find the APEST definitions from Alan Hirsch’s web site, or you can go there yourself here:

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APOSTLES extend the gospel. As the “sent ones,” they ensure that the faith is transmitted from one context to another and from one generation to the next. They are always thinking about the future, bridging barriers, establishing the church in new contexts, developing leaders, networking trans-locally. Yes, if you focus solely on initiating new ideas and rapid expansion, you can leave people and organizations wounded. The shepherding and teaching functions are needed to ensure people are cared for rather than simply used.

PROPHETS know God’s will. They are particularly attuned to God and his truth for today. They bring correction and challenge the dominant assumptions we inherit from the culture. They insist that the community obey what God has commanded. They question the status quo. Without the other types of leaders in place, prophets can become belligerent activists or, paradoxically, disengage from the imperfection of reality and become other-worldly.

EVANGELISTS recruit. These infectious communicators of the gospel message recruit others to the cause. They call for a personal response to God’s redemption in Christ, and also draw believers to engage the wider mission, growing the church. Evangelists can be so focused on reaching those outside the church that maturing and strengthening those inside is neglected.

SHEPHERDS nurture and protect. Caregivers of the community, they focus on the protection and spiritual maturity of God’s flock, cultivating a loving and spiritually mature network of relationships, making and developing disciples. Shepherds can value stability to the detriment of the mission. They may also foster an unhealthy dependence between the church and themselves.

TEACHERS understand and explain. Communicators of God’s truth and wisdom, they help others remain biblically grounded to better discern God’s will, guiding others toward wisdom, helping the community remain faithful to Christ’s word, and constructing a transferable doctrine. Without the input of the other functions, teachers can fall into dogmatism or dry intellectualism. They may fail to see the personal or missional aspects of the church’s ministry.

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Blessings on the journey.

About Pastor Jesse

I am a disciple of Jesus, husband, father, pastor, and engineer. I am passionate about making deeply surrendered disciples of Jesus who are motivated and equipped to make more.
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