5Q and the Future of the Church

Last year, I attended a Verge Regional conference in Chicago. When Alan Hirsch took the stage, one of my friends put away his notebook and whispered to me, “I think I’ll just sit back and listen during this session.” By the end of Alan’s talk, my friend had retrieved his notebook, filled several pages with charts and pictures, and come to a thoughtful conclusion:

“My brain hurts. I need a drink.”

Alan Hirsch’s latest book, 5Q, might break your brain. Like his other works, the book is a well-researched thought map for the Church of the future. 5Q is about the fivefold ministry functions listed in Ephesians 4 – Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, Teacher (APEST for short).

In terms of pure, biblical truth, the book is a solid resource for leaders of both churches and ministry organizations. Hirsch uniquely unpacks the fourth chapter of Ephesians, building a cultural, historical, and theological framework for understanding APEST typology. He covers a lot of ground on every page, from archetypes and the “Hero’s Journey,” to the ways in which Christ redeems those ancient forms and faithfully re-presents them to the Church.

Regarding the book’s readability, I’d be lying if I said my attention didn’t drift from time to time.

This may be due to the way Hirsch plants ideas in the reader’s mind, leading to the best kind of distraction – the kind that transports the reader away from the book and into a world of kingdom possibilities. I found myself stopping mid-page to stare into space for several minutes, contemplating the ways in which my organization may or may not be implementing the APEST.

The tone of 5Q is bolder than Hirsch’s other works. He’s graduated from theorist to expert, but not in an obnoxious way. In the first chapter he makes the claim, “While I don’t believe there is such a thing as a silver bullet – a single solution that will resolve all our problems – nonetheless, I have come to believe that 5Q [Applied APEST Typology] is almost a silver bullet.”

That’s a claim that should prompt every church leader to pay attention.

Yet, I can’t help but wonder, who will read this book?

The Christian leaders I know are constantly looking for consultants. They wan’t their churches/ministries to grow and are frustrated by lack of results. Unfortunately, most turn to “successful” mega-church pastors, TED Talks, and business gurus. I’ve been part of ministry teams that shrug off the suggestion APEST roles yet gladly welcome the wisdom of Apple or Google.

Will such leaders buy a copy of 5Q for themselves or their staff?  

For the sake of their congregations and organizations, I hope so. According to Hirsch, there has never been a long-term, society-impacting, Jesus movement that didn’t have the APEST fully operative among its members.

5Q is a call for the Church to return to it’s roots and once again function as an interconnected, interdependent body where every member provides a necessary function. When this happens, movements form and the kingdom spreads like wildfire.

The Church is desperate for such a movement. Will we see the answer that’s been right in front of us for thousands of years?

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