Why do we read books? I mean, seriously, have you ever thought about that? Sometimes the answer for me is, “Because I can.” It is one of the great joys of life. I can get caught up in a great story. I can learn something new. I can be mad, glad, and sad — sometimes all within the same book. I can go places I’ve never been and perhaps never will go. I can identify places I must go.
I hope you get the point. Reading for me is like eating. And as someone who has recently had to focus on a heart-healthy diet, I’m often asked about my diet restrictions. I tell people, “I can eat anything I want. I just have to want to eat better things.”
A couple of days ago I completed a feast of a book. It contained some of my favorite tastes, but also some flavors that were unfamiliar. There were bites that were tender, melt-in-your-mouth goodness, but also some chewy pieces that required some effort.
If you were to ask me whether it falls into the “tastes good” or “good for you” category, I’d have to say, “Yes!”
Alan Hirsch’s book, “5Q: Reactivating the Original Intelligence and Capacity of the Body of Christ,” is tender and chewy, nutritious and delicious, strange and familiar—and it has made me hungry for more.
This year marks 40 years in church ministry for me, but I’ve been a little late to the party when it comes to concepts of “the fivefold, APEST, and 5Q” (used interchangeably within the book). My tradition, education, and experience — while not falling completely into the charismatic or cessationist camps — have not made much room for those concepts.
The Ephesians 4 listing of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds (Pastors), and Teachers was typically presented alongside the other “spiritual gift” passages (primarily Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12) as indications of how God has equipped certain members of the Body of Christ with certain ministry capacities. The main difference in the Ephesians passage was usually presented as specific roles entrusted to leaders for the sake of equipping and empowering all the members for ministry.
The idea that these capacities are actually ALL essential for a healthy Body, made about as much sense as suggesting that any other individual spiritual gift was necessary. “Your church isn’t a healthy church if you don’t have someone with the gift of giving.” Ok, maybe that’s true, but we have who we have, right? We can’t make people gifted in ways they are not. You see the dilemma?
But I’ve heard enough about APEST and missional — and the name of Alan Hirsch — in recent years that I was intrigued when I heard about the book. So I came to it, as he says in the introduction, “with soft eyes” and an open heart.
Can I just say that it makes sense? He spent enough time laying the theological and Biblical framework that I was prepared for some practical teaching and explanation. I was not disappointed. The unfamiliar tastes began to meld together in such a way that they simply tasted right and I wanted more.
I refuse to blame any of my teachers or mentors for the gap in my understanding. I take full responsibility and recognize that I may have just missed it. But I’m not finished learning and I came away from this book with: (1) a fuller — and I believe more Biblical — understanding of God’s intent for the Body of Christ, (2) a reference guide to continue growing in my understanding and practice, and (3) access to an online toolkit to help me turn knowledge into ministry.
I can’t recommend “5Q” highly enough for anyone who is truly interested in seeing the Body of Christ visibly manifest in the world in all its fullness.
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