In Ephesians 4 we are given the blueprint for Jesus' Church and what it should look like in its full state of unity and maturity. The problem is that for years the Western church has only focused on the role of teacher and shepherd, so much so that we have almost forgotten that there is any other roles within the church. Unless you grew up in an evangelical church like me then you probably also had an evangelist.
The other three roles that are most often ignored in the church today are the apostles, prophets, and at times the evangelists. For most people, once this full picture of the church is realized it becomes a paradigm shift and if they are rightly understood and applied they should become a welcome gift to the church.
Looking at these five roles, commonly referred to as APEST has been a very common language to me, so much so that I often forget that much of the church does ignore them. I was talking recently with a church planting catalyst from another church planting network and mentioned that part of the initial application process with the Table Network is an "Apest" test and he looked at me with confusion because he was unfamiliar with the terminology of the roles.
I posted the below in an earlier blog post this year but felt that it would be helpful to give a brief definition and explanation of each of the gifts given in Ephesians 4. If taking an APEST test is something that interests you please get in contact with me and I can get you set up. It is extremely helpful for a person to see and for the record I am more of an apostle, evangelists, and teacher.
Here is a brief summary of each gift:
Apostles: These are those who are sent ones. They desire to see the gospel of the Kingdom planted where others haven't gone; they are church planters. They are visionaries who see the blueprint for the church that will call God's people to live sent lives and who desire that everyday saints be released into domains to use their gifts to build up the Body. They protect the doctrine and the DNA of the Church. They are "Fatherly" and desire to see new leaders raised up (sons in the faith) and sent out.
Prophets: These are those who are sensitive to the voice and Word of God. They hear from God and communicate God's word to God's people. They call God's people back to God and call God's people to live lives of holiness and justice. They care more about what God has to say than how man will take it. Often, they are our biggest prayer warriors.
Evangelists: These are those who are outwardly focused. They desire to equip the Church in reaching their neighbors with the gospel. They desire the Church to both declare and demonstrate the gospel of the Kingdom. They love to spend time developing relationships with the un-churched and they give their lives to inviting people to be a part of God's family.
Shepherds: These are those who care for the flock. They are concerned with the lives of the congregation. They are counselors, protecting the community that God has entrusted to them. They desire that the Church be a family, praying for, providing for and loving one another.
Teacher: These have the gift to teach and use that gift to build the Church. They often love books and theology. They want the Church to grow into maturity by growing in the Knowledge of Jesus and his ways. They teach Scripture and help apply it to everyday life, guard doctrine and help the Church learn to teach one another.
The above post is part of a series that is giving a brief over on what one receives in a non-residential church planting cohort with the Release Initiative.