God Directed Deviations

APEST, Apostles, Culture, Discipleship, Evangelists, Leadership, Making Disciples, Ministry, Mission, Morality and Ethics, Pastors, Prophets, Teachers

I No Longer Know What APEST I Am

21866-knowWhat’s APEST? It’s an acronym for the people gifts in Ephesians 4:11. Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds and Teachers. Forget for a moment that there is adamant pushback against two of these (Apostles & Prophets) and slight disdain for one (Evangelists). There are still large segments of the Church that put ALL of the emphases on Pastors and Teachers, which are often congealed into one person, “The Pastor-Teacher,” as if that person, on their own could equip his people for works of service, build the body of Christ up, foster unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and be the maturing agent for brethren. (Ephesians 4:12,13) Yes, forget all that for a moment. Let’s assume that ALL of these gifts ARE for today and that each believer has the DNA for at least one of these ‘Apostolic’ gifts because they are in Christ and Christ is in them.

Time and again the resurgence and import of these gifts bubbles to the surface. I believe now is one of those times. And while I may completely agree with most of the propositions about the need for fully functioning APEST teams within the body of Christ, It has become personally burdensome. The pressure to know what I am and how I should function has become a heavy yoke. Just when I think I’ve nailed it down and try to develop my gift ‘with the Spirit’s help,’ or draw close to another with the same gifting to ‘learn’ from them, I’m met with all the reasons why I’m not practicing my gift correctly. Just when I’m convinced that one of the five is surely not my gift, one comes along and says that it definitely is.

Admittedly, I have been caught up in the most recent resurgence of APEST. I’ve taught on it, I’ve read thousands and thousands of pages about it from historical and contemporary authors, taken every ‘spiritual gifting test there is,’ and have tried to develop those roles/functions in others.  I’ve even seen these gifts, or so I’ve thought, being conceived and birthed in others. You’d think I’d be more certain about things like ‘my calling,’ ‘my ministry,’ and ‘my purpose,’ on this megadiverse of a mission field. I’ve even taken one of those assessment tests where you ask a bunch of other folks to answer questions to help you identify your primary and secondary APEST gifting. (BTW, That came out overwhelmingly ‘Apostle)

Now I no longer know what I am. I know what I don’t want to be. I don’t want to be a Pastor, or an Evangelist, or an Apostle. I’ve told myself that I am a Prophet, and whether you like it or not, I can finagle your tests to my unconsciously desired outcome (probably the Prophet in me), but in reality I’ve often used the ‘Prophet tag’ as an excuse to be a bully in the Church. I am a good teacher. It comes easy for me. It’s something I love doing. But I have this unsettled feeling that it’s not ‘God’s best’ for me.

I’m left wondering today If I’ve made too much of nothing and I am meditating on Bob Dylan’s song of the same title:

Too much of nothing
Can make a man ill at ease
One man’s temper might rise
While another man’s temper might freeze
In the day of confession
We cannot mock a soul
Oh, when there’s too much of nothing
No one has control

Bob Dylan – Too Much Of Nothing – Lyrics

I’m not after ‘control,’ or maybe I am. I just don’t know. I suppose if I am feeling this way, that others are too. I want to know so I can act. But maybe Jerry Sternin is right when he said in his book: The Power of Positive Deviance:

“It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than think your way into a new way of acting.”

At first glance it seems to contradict Solomon’s words in Proverbs 23:7 “As a man thinks, so is he,” but that just might be the teacher in me.

What if I wanted to hit the reset button? What if I wanted a ‘do-over?’ Would it be ok for me to just be unsure for a while, listen to the Spirit, not accept any classification or designation and just go where the Father says to, say what He tells me to say, and do what He wants me to do? A few questions:

Are any of you feeling this way?
What ‘advice’ would you give to me or others who are feeling the same?
Is the attitude ‘I just want to make Disciples’ ok?

APEST, Ephesians 4:11

The 5-Failed Ministry #APEST

5failed“And men gave the extra-biblical 5-fold ‘ministry’ of theologians, philosophers, seminarians, professors and academics, to paralyze and burden both saint and sinner’s alike; for the work of religion, to the perpetuation of infancy in the body of Christ; until as many attain to the disunity of schism and the knowledge of speculation, to an enduring immaturity in themselves.”

Adapted from my Facebook friend Marshall Diakon

What do you think?

 

 

 

Apologetics, Discipleship, Evangelism, God's Kingdom, Religion, Salvation, The Church, The Gospel

Was There Evangelism in the Old Testament?

In order to consider Old Testament Evangelism properly, we’ll have to define “evangelism.”  Evangelism is not soul-winning.  Evangelism is simply announcing, declaring, or preaching the good news, glad tidings, or the person of Christ Himself.  The Gospel is sometimes expressed as a person, Christ, bet never expressed apart from him.  The God Message and the God-Man are always connected.  The Gospel is always the person of Christ, and His message.  To proclaim Christ and His message is evangelism.

When discussing Old Testament Evangelism however, some may suggest that they (Old Testament Saints) and us (New Testament Believers) are at a disadvantage because the Whole Gospel didn’t exist yet.  In other words the story of Jesus’ resurrection and victory over death are critical components of “The Gospel,” and they didn’t have those components.  Further, some may suggest that without the Full-Gospel, it’s impossible to evangelize because evangelism requires the full gospel.  To them, Evangelism or Gospelizing, is the announcing of the completed message of the good news. 

It is important to recognize that the people of Israel were set apart by the Lord to be a holy people and at the same time to be a light and a blessing to the nations around them.  In Genesis 12:1-3, which tells us about the calling of Abraham. The Lord called him to leave his country, his people and his father’s household and to go to the land the Lord would show him. The Lord promised Abraham that He would make him into a great nation, that He would bless him and that Abraham would be a blessing. The promise ends with these words: “… and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Gen. 12:3)  I think it’s impossible to assume that simple existence (being light) was sufficient enough to be considered evangelism, but that “being a blessing” begins to approach it.  Only persevearing as a God people without a persistence in the proclamation of Him to other people was never God’s way.    

  • They were to be a Kingdom of Priests AND a Holy Nation with a message. Exodus 19:6

Much the same for us today in the New Testament era, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

  • The introduction of Psalm 67, in a sense, is an evangelism prayer.  “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.” Psalm 67:1,2
  • Israel was called to faith and repentance: Deut. 30:8; Josh. 24:15; Lev. 5:5; 16:29-31; Deut 10:16, Ezek. 18:30-31
  • Israel was called witness to their children: Deut. 6:7, 20-25
  • Israel was called to witness to their neighbors: Jer. 31:34;
  • David’s call was to witness to the nations: Ps. 18:49;
  • David’s prayer was that salvation would be known among all the nations: Ps. 67;
  • David’s confidence was that all nations would be converted: Ps. 22:27;
  • The prophets had “missionary” work: Isa. 2:2-4; 19:25; 40:5, 9; 42:6; 45:22; 49:6; 56:7; 66:19; Zech. 8:23; cf. Ps. 68:31; 85:92;
Caveat:  I’m not sure we can make a solid equivalence between “witnessing” and “evangelism” per se, but it does help to compare and contrast overlaps. 

 Reflection:  I was noticing the similarities between the evangelistic episodes in the Old Testament, particularly that of Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram in 2 Kings 5:15 and unbelievers in the New Testamant.  How so?  Here’s what Naaman confessed after coming to faith…  “there is no God in all the world except in Israel”

God Himself  is the Archetypal Evangelist. Paul, in his letter to the Galatians said;

For because God knew beforehand that the nations are made right by faith, he preached The Good News to Abraham beforehand, as The Holy Scriptures say: “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” (Galatians 3:8) Aramaic Bible in Plain English

In the New Testament, it says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” Romans 10:9,10

It is not my intention to make a hard division here between the Old Testament and the New in the way how God conveys his message of hope.  In fact, when it comes to evangelism, I’m hoping to find a consensus that the its starting point is NOT in the New Testament and make various applications afterwards. 

A few questions:

1.  Did Old Testament “Evangelism” exist, or must we call it something else?

2.  Does not having “the whole story” make it impossible to evangelize?

3.  What benchmarks did Old Testament saints use to gauge their evangelism effectiveness?  

 

Culture, Discipleship, Gospel, Leadership, Making Disciples, Ministry, Mission, Scripture, The Gospel

If you’re Making Disciples like Jesus and the early Church did, then what more is needed?

10736228_10152865916590087_1424323255_nAn interesting question came up in our Discipleship Group last night.  The question came out of a bit of frustration experienced by local church leaders who are consistently on mission in their own and nearby communities. Some folks in those communities  seemed ill-equipped to carry on the work.  The answer to these frustrations, said one, is that “we need to equip them by giving them more biblical knowledge and ‘structure.’

To me, this always seems to be the answer. More sermon series, Sunday school classes, programs, training, development courses, books, conferences, seminaries etc. All of these are thought to be ways to better capacitate believers for the work of the ministry.

I then posed the following question to the leaders;

If you’re Making Disciples like Jesus and the early Church did, then what more is needed?

There was silence in heaven for about a half an hour…

How would you have answered that question?

Christianity, Culture, God's Kingdom, Missiology, Mission, Missions

Are the Jewish, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, New Agers, and Non-Religious ‘Unreached?’

unreached_points_worldAccording to the Joshua Project, the world has 7,000+ unreached people groups. ‘Unreached,’ according to them, are groups that “lack enough followers of Christ and resources to evangelize their own people.”

Is it right for Christian mission organizations to classify the Jewish, the Muslim, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the New Ager, and the self-proclaimed Non-Religious as ‘unreached?’