June 28, 2004

At our last group meeting, I laid five large sheets of paper on the floor. Each had a label and some descriptions, like this:

[Entrepeneur, top]

Here’s what I had written on the sheets:

– Pioneer, Strategist, Innovator, Visionary
– Groundbreaker who initiates an organization’s mission

– Disturber, Agitator
– Upsets the status quo, challenging an organization to move in new directions

– Passionate communicator of organizational message
– Recruits to the cause

– Carer, Social cement
– Provides organization glue by caring for the individuals in it

– Philosopher, Translator
– Organizes the various parts into a working unit and articulates that structure to the other members

(Those of you who have read The Shaping of Things to Come will immediately recognize that I copied these from the book.)

I introduced the various labels as business-speak coming from organizational theory. Then I said, “Each of us probably has a strength in one of these areas, and a lesser strength in another area. Let’s pick on somebody and figure out what they are.” And so we went through our group, writing each person’s name on two of the sheets, like this:

[Entrepreneur, with names]

We tried to include people who were not present (except for Kreek’t because we don’t yet know her well enough). This probably introduced some slop because it’s helpful to get feedback from each person; John (who was there) had us move him from one area to another. And having thought about Sherree (who was not there) a bit more, I’d say she definitely belongs on the “Entrepreneur” list.

Everyone had fun categorizing each other. Then I began reading Ephesians 4:1-11, which is pretty familiar to everyone. But when I got to verse 11, I said, “Watch, now” and scribbled an extra label at the bottom of each sheet:

[Entrepreneur = Apostle]

[Questioner = Prophet]

[Recruiter = Evangelist]

[Humanizer = Pastor]

[Systematizer = Teacher]

This elicited some surprise and at least one “Oh my gosh.” I pointed out that the labels of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers (APEPT) did not mean that these people were apostles, but rather that they were capable of functioning in an apostolic fashion.

“Look,” I said, “we have a pretty good spread across all the categories. That’s one of the reasons our group works so well.”
Kay said, “Look Jon, you and I are different, so between you and me, we have 4 out of 5 covered.”
“Yeah,” Mike said, “you two, our leaders, are missing Recruiter. Maybe that’s why our group hasn’t grown!” Ouch, he’s right.

Teddy asked a great question: “Can one person, a leader, do all these things?”
I replied, “No, there’s no way. We need each other. In fact, I think God designed it that way on purpose.”

I pointed out that church leadership tends to focus on pastors and teachers to the exclusion of the other categories — so that’s why people in the first three (A, P, E) tend to get into trouble in churches. We’re not crazy, the church needs us!

At this point in the meeting, I had planned to spend some time worshiping through song, then pray for each other as the Holy Spirit directed. But when we got here, it was pretty clear to me what we should do next: Lay hands on each person and bless their APEPT giftings. This was powerful and fun.

Update: For more on APEPT, renamed APEST, see The Forgotten Ways website where you can purchase assessment tests. Has anyone tried the tests, or even the simple exercise above?

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

9 responses to APEPT

  1. wow…great exercise. Well done. I think I’ll use this at some stage down the track with our little group. Excellent stuff.

  2. Great stuff john – we are in the process of doing something similar – a friend has developed an asessment tool for the APEPT which we may trial. I like your approach – simple and engaging

  3. This is awesome. I’m going to find a place to use this!

  4. As Jonny Baker notes, folks outside of the US have much more experience with the post-Christian context because of “the gift of fallowness when things were pretty much dead.” I guess that’s why I keep looking to learn from people like Darren and Andrew (hamo) who are actively involved with FORGE, the folks who brought us The Shaping of Things to Come.

  5. Good stuff!

  6. That was me on the last post, btw, but I got an itchy trigger finger. The only thing I question is the idea of the “fivefold” ministry — a term I’ve heard many times. But the Greek really joins “pastors” and “teachers” together as one gift: the “pastor-teacher.” Just a peeve of mine that I like to bring up from time to time to mess with people’s theology. 🙂

  7. Andrew, I have heard many times about the pastor-teacher. Although this is a common teaching, I have yet to see any practical benefits from it. I have seen great teachers who are lousy pastors (usually paid staff) and great pastors who are lousy teachers (usually home group members).

  8. For more on APEPT, see Len Hjalmarson’s review of The Shaping of Things to Come. I cannot say enough good things about this book.

  9. wow jon–great post and a great exercise. You’re right–that would be an interesting exercise.