Be A Pest!
On Sunday, October 25th, our fall series Welcome Home will lead us to engage Ephesians 4.11-13, which reads: "Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."
This typology of fivefold ministry is commonly referenced with the term APEST, which stands for Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds and Teachers. I believe that God has gifted Good Shepherd - and Christian churches throughout the world - with apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers. That's a bold statement, I know! Let me make it bolder: The majority of those apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherd and teachers are not pastors, staff, elders or deacons! To put it simply, each of us is meant to join this fivefold ministry of the church as an apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd or teacher! This is similar to the Reformers' emphasis on The Priesthood of All Believers, namely, that God is accessible to every Christian, and every Christian is a minister of the gospel!
But do we live out this APEST typology? Does Good Shepherd release each and every one of its 612 members into ministry? I fear that we do not. As Alan Hirsch, who has written extensively on APEST, writes, "We are perfectly designed to achieve what we are currently achieving. As a certain tree bears specific fruit, so too the organizational systems we inhabit are biased toward achieving certain outcomes."
As mentioned above, we'll think together a little more about this on Sunday, October 25th, but for now I'd like to update you on one way we're seeking to transform our current "organizational system" by equipping the elders of our church to be released into ministry, instead of merely "doing the business of the church."
Since January, our Session has been engaging a curriculum called the Elder Leadership Institute which is centered upon Biblical Theology, Spiritual Formation and Practices, Leadership Strategies and Cultural Context and Evangelism, Mission, & Discipleship. Pastor Lisa Johnson explains the importance: ”If we want our churches to grow deeper and more missionally focused, then the leaders of the church have to lead as models. Elders need to show the members what a vibrant life in true discipleship and missional living might look like. As much as we pray and plan, we won’t see the changes we desire in our churches unless we make changes as a session first. As church leaders, we can’t give away, teach or lead in ways we don’t exhibit ourselves. Elders need to develop their own flourishing relationship with Christ, know Biblically what God expects of them, and practice practically what skills are needed to lead the church effectively."
On October 15th-18th, Elders Dan Krehbiel, Sue Nelson-Brown, Roberta Ramont and I will take part in an Immersion Retreat in Estes Park, Colorado as a part of this ELI Training. The goal of this opportunity is to enhance personal discipleship and begin to make disciplemaking a part of our ongoing ministry. What's more, we hope that Session's involvement with this curriculum will help transform our entire church to be APEST, that we might each be equipped to share our gifts with one another and the world around us! If you'd like to get a jump start on where you fit in APEST, click onto http://fivefoldsurvey.com!