(This blog first appeared on Alan Hirsch’s blog site 5Q)
Starting a church in a Starbucks in Europe, or in the open air at Bixby Park in downtown Long Beach, or doing open mic nights in a gay coffee house make for some crazy stories to tell. But there are crazier stories that almost happened, but thankfully never were.
The reason these stories will never be told has to do with the counterbalance that I need to as an apostolic leader.
As an apostolic serial church planter, I’m always looking to push the boundaries, and mobilize the church to the frontline of mission. But this could run the risk of getting me into tons of trouble were it not for the other leaders who make up the Ephesians 4:10.
For instance, there was the time in Europe when I was eager to start a church in a truck stop off a major motorway, meeting in the rest stop, and doing church in the coffee house. I’d talked to the manager and gotten approval. Everything was all lined up, and then one of the shepherds on our leadership team piped up. “Peyton, what about the children?” I’d already thought that one out, and my response was quick. “There is a ball pit in the Burger King. That should keep them busy.”
Needless to say, they had to reign me in.
There was also the time that I wanted to buy a gas station on the corner in one of Long Beach’s most deadly neighborhoods, and meet in the open air despite drive-by shootings. Yeah, that didn’t happen, thanks to the balance of our team.
When Paul describes the gifts in Ephesians 4, he mentions that the body grows through their leadership, and that each of the 5 roles pulls and tugs on the body, pulling on it until it fills the Jesus-shaped hole left by the ascension. As Christ was taken out of the world, he sent these gifts to re-fill the world with himself. As I pull on a local body with my apostolic gifting, I develop the apostolic part that lays dormant within each and every Christian.
But my strength can also become a weakness. If all you have pulling on a congregation is the apostolic, then your church becomes a mission station.
If all you have pulling on a congregation is the prophetic leader, the church becomes a circus.
If all you have pulling on a congregation is the evangelist, then the church becomes a stadium crusade (I see that hand brother!).
If all you have pulling on a congregation is the shepherd, then the church becomes a counseling session.
If all you have pulling on a congregation is the teacher, then your church becomes a classroom, and when we multiply them, we call them campuses.
Together we become those who bring balance to the force, but on our own, we turn the church down the path to the dark side.
No matter how great our gift, how strong our call, if we aren’t balanced by those God has put with us, we distort the body of Christ until it no longer looks like Jesus, but becomes “twisted…more machine than man”.
God hardwired the 5 gifts to balance one another out.
For example, the whereas the Apostle and Prophet work very well in tandem together, they don’t balance each other.
Same with the shepherd and teacher.
The apostle and prophet are both radicals, whereas the shepherd and teacher are both conservatives.
We need both, as evidenced by my personal examples, but remember that God overbalanced Christianity with a ratio of 3:2 of radicals to conservatives by throwing the evangelist in there. He’s the radical in the bunch that is balanced by all. Each pulls on him from either side. If I made diagrams, it would show the other four pulling on him. There may be no balancing an evangelist anyways. It takes four to keep him under raps.
Nonetheless, the perfect balance to the apostle is the shepherd. Whereas the balance to the prophet is the teacher.
The apostle and shepherd balance each other because the apostle always mobilizes the body to focus out, and the shepherd mobilizes them to take care of what’s within. One is wired for health, the other for impact. As they each should be.
The prophetic leader and teacher are perfect counterbalances. The prophet needs to make sure that things are constantly being tested against scripture, validated, and safe to believe in. Teachers need prophetic leaders to help them avoid simply becoming people who lecture about things that they never experience.
The more that we study the APEST model, the more genius we find in it. I’m particularly grateful to Alan for what he has so meticulously researched and put into words, what I’ve learned by experience. Alan has truly done the church a great service by providing us with new language to express what Jesus has been up to all along, and reading 5Q has been like watching the next Star Wars sequel to find out more about the balance that Christ has brought to the church.
Buy Peyton’s newest book “Reaching The Unreached: Becoming Raiders of the Lost Art” over on Amazon.com. You can also download a free chapter and watch a cool trailer for the book HERE or click the image below.