Saturday, October 16, 2010

127. Francis Chan, Mark Driscoll, Josh Harris and APEST

What's Next for Francis Chan? A Conversation with Mark Driscoll and Joshua Harris from Ben Peays on Vimeo.

I don't usually blog about high profile people, but I couldn't help but put my two cents in on this one. I heard about this discussion between Driscoll, Chan and Harris a while back, but I just stumbled on it tonight on the internet. As I listened to Chan, I resonated with several things he said about the poor, suffering, being motivated by love....but I also heard Driscoll looking for some balance in approach to poverty vs. wealth, simplicity vs. complexity etc. What seemed odd to me is that they both looked on what Chan was doing as though it was sort of ....odd.

There is a deeper, underlying impulse going on here that I think could bring clarity to the pathway Francis Chan has chosen. After spending a significant amount of time studying Ephesians 4, I have come to the conclusion that everyone is gifted with all five of the APEST giftings, but each person has each of these giftings in different measures. That is, each person has a primary, secondary tertiary etc. In my opinion, after hearing Francis Chan speak and reading some of his writings, Chan is gifted as a prophet, with some obvious teaching gifting thrown in the mix. I don't know the guy well enough to know which is primary and which is secondary etc., but it is clear that he is extremely God focused, he calls people to a higher standard, he energizes the community and often talks about his experiences of encountering God in dramatic ways. He is unique in this way, but not so unique that he is all by himself. There are countless other people in the body who have this same thing going on, they just do not share the same platform and exposure as Chan.

When Harris started the session, he responded to a comment Driscoll made by saying "It the whole King dynamic." This is, I assume, he is describing Driscoll from the typology that I have heard Driscoll use of describing leaders with the one of the metaphors of Prophet, Priest or King. Honestly, I struggle with this because the way I have heard it explained, it sounds like a recycled version of the "E-Myth" book. It sounds good at first (to some), but for me it just muddies the waters at precisely the point we need clarity on functions in the body. It is short and sweet, but Jesus did not give the church a three-fold ministry, he gave it a five-fold ministry.

We have a five-fold description of the functions people play in the body in Ephesians 4. If we would stick with the scriptural template of APEST, then it wouldn't be so bizarre that Chan is distancing himself from the established community and diving into a highly incarnational form of ministry. He is a prophet, and this is one of the things prophets do naturally. They help the church become incarnational by incarnating the values of God in tangible, concrete, often dramatic ways. If we understood the Ephesians 4 ministry matrix, we would be able to see how natural it is for Chan to be going in this direction, and instead of questioning the trajectory of his ministry and trying to some how align it with other well traveled trajectories, we can celebrate it and learn from it, be inspired by it and empower it.

This interview is a classic case where a thorough understanding of APEST would helps us appreciate and affirm what we see happening in a high profile, obviously very prophetic teacher, in stead of scratching heads and thinking something is amiss. What is amiss, I would say, is that the church had a very limited leadership structure for Chan to occupy....pastor/teacher....and all this time, in Chans own words...he knew something wasn't right. Its not that the whole church isn't right. What isn't right is the narrow, pastor/teacher leadership structure that forces prophets like Chan into a one size fits all mold of preaching to the established church instead being on the frontier and doing what they do best in the frontier. Praise God Chan has the courage to step out and follow the calling and gifting that Jesus gave him when He ascended on high and gave gifts to men. Chan is modeling to us that we have to have integrity in our gifting and calling. He is an inspiration and encouragement to me, as I too had to leave the pastor/teacher monarchy and move out into the frontier to follow my calling to function apostolically. (Although, it would be nice to do that with the same access to resources that Chan has. Just being honest =)

I am doing some writing with Alan Hirsch and Mike Breen on this very topic of APEST and we hope to broaden the churches vision of the inherent, Jesus-given giftings in the body that provide the focus and trajectories for ministry expressions. It is my hope that this material will help alleviate some of the confusion and contention that naturally surfaces when we try to retro-fit an existing five-fold dynamic in the body into a two-fold leadership/organizational/ministry structure.


Rich M said...

Hello Tim,
Thanks for this link and your thoughts. I'd like to challenge the APEST concept a little: I love the idea of APEST, have evaluated myself and my team, and so on... and it is a neat framework,but are we laying too much emphasis on what is about 4 verses of scripture? If APEST was SO vital it would surely be mentioned more than once. As you know, there are other ministry lists in NT such as 1Cor12:28 which lists "apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues". Now APTMHHAT is a bit less marketable than APEST, but you get my point!

I'd LIKE APEST to be the normative model for ministry but I'm not sure I can really justify that Biblically. Your thoughts?

Planter said...

Hey Rich,

Thanks for the feedback. Several things come to mind.

1. The "universal" nature of the Ephesian letter. Paul is describing the universal church, not a particular church in Ephesdians. This lends to the idea that APEST is common to all communities in Christ.

2. These are ministries, not just gifts.

3. The ministries are the only ones said to be given by Christ. THe extend the original ministry of Christ into the world.

4. Paul strategically uses the word "anthropos" when he talks about APEST being given. He locates APEST within the broader category of humanity, which bolsters its universality.

5. The key word in Ephesians 4 ic calling, kalesis in gk. The key word in I Cor 12 is manifestation. The key word in Romans 12 is praxis (role in NIV?)
The lists are different. I tend to say that I Cor 12 gifts are situational and contextual. Romans are practical (praxis) and APEST is vocational. Paul blends person and ministry together by saying Christ gave some "to be" So APEST are vocational identities.

6. Something exclusive to APEST - only gifts given by Christ, only gfts directly daid to mature the curch into the fullness of Christ.

This is all I have on a shorter response. I am doing some writing right now on this very issue with Alan Hirsch, and hopefull the book will be available in October of this year. Sorry for the plug, but this concept needs to be unpacked, and it requires a bit of space to differentiate the APEST form the others. THJey are clearly different, yet all legitimate.

It is interesting to note that I Cor 12 is the longest list, it narrows down in I Cor 12, and narrows down even more in Eph 4. Could it be Paul arrived at the universal pattern of intrinsic capacities after reflecting on a lifetime of apostolic ministry

Rich M said...

Thanks - helpful points. The book was already on my radar and I am looking forward to it.... even though my friends are already bored by my twin nerd-subjects of Myers-Briggs and APEST, both of which I have found very helpful in understanding personality and ministry.

I'll probably blog on APEST myself sometime since our (small and beginner) missional community here in France is a little weak right now (I think) due to an under-representation of some of the gifts, especially Evangelist.

Planter said...

France, wow, very cool man. What is your blog address?