5Q: Answers to a Decade (or more) of My Organizational Questions

disclosure statement: I was given a copy of this book, 5Q, by Alan Hirsch to give an honest review of it.

It’s 5:30 in the morning and I can’t put this thing down. I’ve planted a church and started a business in Taiwan, a culture which has traditionally been more resistant to the gospel’s work, with around 3% of 23,000,000 people professing faith in Christ. There have been successes in our ministry. Just a few days ago we were recounting what God’s done and noted that 34 people have been baptized since 2012.  and I’ll be one of the first to admit I often feel I have no idea what I’m doing. The reason I couldn’t put this book down is because Hirsch is putting into words feelings I’ve had for nearly a decade (which is a lifetime for a millennial). The premise of Hirsch’s latest work is that Jesus Christ has already given us a blueprint for what leadership, mission, evangelism, care and teaching should look like and how it’s done. He’s calling us to allow the latent seeds of the fivefold gifts, also referred to as APEST or 5Q, Christ gave the church to begin to grow again. APEST, or apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, are five different gifts or ministries that Christ placed in the church as a result of his ascension (Ephesians 4:1-16). He writes, “In it’s simplest form, 5Q is the synergy of a holistic recombination of the apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, shepherding and teaching (APEST) capacities referred to in Ephesians.” These gifts were given so that we could minister as the body of Christ and ultimately attain to the fullness of Christ. But Hirsch argues the archetypal evidence of APEST predates the establishment of the church and is actually part of the prevenient grace that God established when He created the world. Essentially, understanding and utilizing the fivefold is THE KEY to healthy, thriving organizations across the board whether in business, church or elsewhere.

By understanding 5Q, we are able to assess the health and capacity of our organizations, churches and businesses included. Hirsch traces biblical foundations, primordial forms and archetypes and ultimately the life of Jesus as the architect and builder of 5Q. Jesus shows us that the patterns of 5Q can be used to understand and assess His ministry as well as his commandments to the church. He outlines the fivefold functionality of the church and society at large. In utilizing 5Q, we have a clear trajectory for how to impart, empower and deploy the greatest move of God the world has ever seen! Hirsch gives numerous accounts of how utilizing 5Q in our organizations will invariably lead to transformation on all levels of society.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

  1. It is not coincidental that this breakthrough has come at a time in my life when my spiritual life has never been better–I am experiencing God in a whole new dimension. I find myself spending whole days in prayer and meditation. My prayer life is rich to the point of overflow. In a real way, I believe that 5Q has played a significant role in this sense of overflow. 5Q feels both personal to me, but I also feel its universal significance.
  2. If you want transformational gospel movement–really want it–then you are going to have to unlearn some very ancient churchly habits and be willing to relearn some new–and yet paradoxically more ancient–more authentically biblical ones. You’re a leader; I speak to you as a leader responsible for your generation.
  3. In fact, I hope to show, fivefold-thinking (5Q) reaches into our deepest instincts for ministry by reconnecting the ministry of Christ with the Body of Christ.
  4. Jesus “gave” APEST to the church, distributing it among all the people as he sees fit. It is vital that you, the reader, feel the weight of the grammar that Paul uses to talk about the constitutional givenness of the APEST ministries to the church. The verb form used for “given” (Gk. edothe, the aorist indicative form of didomi) is an aorist indicative, a very resolute verb form perfectly suited for use in constitutions. This is because aorists reflect actions that took place in the past and as such they are once-and-for-all-time events. The effects of the past event are still felt in the present. They are historic in a similar way that the signing of the Declaration of Independence was historic—it will impact America’s self-understanding for all time…Jesus is actually present in the church, and by which he extends his own ministry through us.
  5. Because they operate within a system, each individual APEST function enriches, counterbalances, and “corrects” the particular bias of each of the others.
  6. The good news is that all five functions/callings are like seeds latent in the system. They are already there by virtue of the defining Word of God. This is a liberating idea—all the potential for a tree is actually already in the seed; we don’t need to mess much with that. What we need to do is simply focus on the environment that will allow the seed to flourish.
  7. [M]issional movements are essentially a recovery of the apostolic impulse; prayer and justice movements are manifestations of the prophetic impulse; revivals are an aspect of evangelistic; community and charismatic renewal is a recovery of the pastoral ministry; and theological renewals are largely related to a rediscovery of some lost motif in Scripture.
  8. It is this relationship between high internal resonance and explicit social patterning that this chapter seeks to address. The idea here will be to try to connect the resonance that you should feel in regards to APEST functions and callings with the community in which you are called to express faith.
  9. Giving the answer is always easier than teaching the process…I often say to leaders that we can change our structures in four to eight months, but it takes four to eight years to change our culture.
  10. We see the five marks of the church defined by APEST as follows: missional impact (A), covenant faithfulness (P), gospel proclamation (E), reconciled community (S), deep wisdom (T).

Near the end of the book, Hirsch quotes Peter Berger who notes, “Ideas do not succeed in history by virtue of their truth but by virtue of their relationship to specific social processes,” and as such we are called not only to revel in fun ideas, but to actually begin applying them. Thus, my personal plan to 5Q implementation: do it. In all seriousness, I am indebted to Hirsch and the rest of his team for packaging a biblical, theological treatise on 5Q. For me and my team, we typically think about church in three terms: personal growth, community growth, and missional growth. These are the outworking of pondering Jesus’ Great Commandment (love God, love others) and Great Commission (make disciples in the world). If we are affect the cultural fabric of society, speak truth to power and life to dry bones, plant the seeds of the good news and win souls for Christ, gather God’s sons and daughters, and ensure God’s Truth is passed on correctly, we are in desperate need of 5Q thinking, systems and action. APEST provides an excellent framework, aspects of which we are already integrating. We speak cultural transformation (A), share the good news regularly (E), and teach truth (T), but I have seen how we can and must grow in all areas of APEST and I’m confident with teaching and tools outlined in this book, we are already on the right path.

I would encourage you to pick up a copy of this book and check out additional resources online. The diagrams offered are more than worth the price of admission. Hirsch will offer insights into the fivefold ministry that will shape your ongoing business and ministry endeavors.

Crisis: Danger or Opportunity?


Recently, I had a breakdown. I found myself crying the floor this week. I was overwhelmed by the difficulties I’m facing in various areas of my responsibility. I had a strong sense of being overwhelmed. There was anxiety growing and taking root in my heart. I had allowed lies about God’s vision and provision for me to stand.

Fortunately, I had a couple of friends around me who were willing to get down next to me and worship with me for more than an hour as we asked God to come and encounter us. 

The following Sunday, a guest speaker gave a word about prayer that touched me deeply. You can watch his sermon here

At one point, Pastor Dave said this: Every crisis is a crossroads between danger and opportunity. The path you walk is up to you. Out of interest, his idea of crisis being danger and opportunity came from his exegesis of the word Chinese word for crisis: 危機, which is the word for danger and the word for opportunity combined together. 

It reminds me of the story of David fighting a battle in 1 Samuel 30. It says, David was “greatly distressed.” At this point, he had an enemy that had defeated him and his own men were considering mutiny. Everyone was “bitter in soul.” But David “strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6). David pursued God in worship, got the answer he needed for the situation he faced, rallied his men, defeated the enemy and restored all that had been lost. He faced a crisis and turned it into an opportunity. 
I’m not out of the woods yet, but I know which choice I’ll be making. This is a crisis; it’s an opportunity. 

Covenant: Our Relationship with God

 

Recently, we’ve been in a sermon series on Covenant Relationships. A covenant is like a contract in that it’s an agreement between two parties. But a covenant is built on a foundation of trust in which both parties want the best for each other. The first covenant happened between God and people. You can watch this video to learn more about the main covenants found in the Bible.

Here are some top highlights from the first installment:

  • Sermon in a Sentence: God invites you to a covenant in which He is faithful and you are washed, protected, and brought into the family as you submit.
  • I recently watched a group of 10 year olds playing basketball. There was one particular girl who was a hard worker, but wasn’t listening to her coach. Because she didn’t operate under covenant, she missed out on the opportunity to be great.
  • In covenant, there are always to parties involved. In the type of covenant we are looking at, God is the initiator.
  • Covenants have promises and conditions like in Deuteronomy 28
  • Ephesians 5:25-32 outlines another example of God’s covenant love. He’s the faithful one. In particular, Paul says we, the church, are to submit to our husband, Jesus Christ. This word submit has a thrust of putting oneself under a plan or arrangement. It’s controversial. But it’s the way God made it. He is looking to be a husband to us. And in turn his expectation is that we would be a wife “subjected to” him. Are you willing to be “subjected to him?” What would it look like in your Finances? In your physical health? Can you imagine if God was your business partner? Or if God walked with you towards health in these areas?
  • God has ordained, appointed, determined, set an abundant life for you and all you need to do is put yourself in submission to it.
  • Memorize James 4:7: Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

One Powerful Leadership Tool You Can Implement Today

In this generation we are looking for authentic, real engagement and connection. We are hungry for real relationships, because we have seen fake and know that it doesn’t deliver. Do you want to help facilitate life transformation in the lives of people around you? Are you interested in keeping people engaged in vision or on track with a mission? Are you hoping to connect with someone in particular? If your hope is to lead, or facilitate influence, then you’ve got to have this tool.

I am interested in seeing your success. I want you to make a difference in the world. I believe that your leadership can change your environment and improve the world we’re living in today. Our leadership makes a legacy. But if we can’t engage people or keep them connected, how are we going to facilitate change? You have got to have this one tool in your arsenal. Please understand that your ability to implement this tool will become a catalyst for the change you know you’re called to bring about.

I’ve seen teams fall apart. I’ve also seen teams overcome deficiencies and all odds going on to meet deadlines, accomplish goals, and achieve vision. What was the difference? They engaged in this tool: vulnerability. You see, we want authenticity because we live in an inauthentic world, and in order to achieve that, we have to be willing to share where we are. Two generations ago, we needed our leaders to be perfect. Today, we’re well aware that no one is perfect.

You see, there was one perfect person: Jesus. And he engaged in perfect vulnerability that led to deeper, more authentic relationships with those around him. He showed vulnerability when he cried at Lazarus’ funeral (John 11:35), when he asked the disciples for help praying (Matthew 26:40), and when he cried out to Father on the cross (Matthew 27:46).

In these moments, Jesus modeled for us a willingness to be vulnerable with where He was at, but also remain hopeful about what was going to happen. This is the perfect mix of weakness and strength. We call it “humility.” We don’t need the shows of perfection; we need the space to be humbly honest about the desperate situation we’re in so that we can grow in expectation that our perfect Father would respond with a resurrection. It’s like Paul said, “His power is made perfect in weakness” (1 Corinthians 12:9).

Too often, however, we attempt to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps so that we can feign a semblance of strength in front of our peers and teammates. What we see in Jesus, however, is a willingness to share his weaknesses and struggles with the team. At the same time, He could stay perfectly in tune with Truth that allowed him to draw the hope and expectation of Heaven into the hopeless situation He faced.

What’s your desperate situation and how can you be both vulnerable and strong? I believe by sharing the honest struggle you’re having and asking God and your teammates to enter into it, you’ll see a major breakthrough.

Covenant Sermon Series: Our Covenant with God

We’ve recently had a new sermon series on Covenant Relationships. We are spending a month learning about how the ideas behind “covenant” help us understand our relationship with God, with each other and with the world. To help provide more background, and because it’s well-done, we showed this video on Covenant made by Bible Project. Here are excerpts from the sermon on Our Covenant with God.

  1. Sermon in a Sentence: God invites you to a covenant in which He is faithful and you are washed, protected, and brought into the family as you submit.
  2. I recently watched a group of 10 year olds playing basketball. Mercy wasn’t under the covenant. It’s poetic irony. Mercy brings us under the covenant, but she wasn’t responding to her name. She wanted to win desperately, but wasn’t willing to follow her coach’s leading. Instead, she kept throwing up air balls. 
  3. God invites you to a covenant. Every covenant has an introduction, historical background, stipulations, and blessings and curses depending on whether both parties keep the covenant. 
  4. In which He is faithful.  God is a faithful partner even when we are not. Let’s review the four covenants we mentioned last week. Noah. I’ll keep the world a safe place. I’ll never destroy it again. Abraham. I’ll bless you so you can be a blessing. Moses. I’ll lead you to the promised land as you follow my ways. David. I’ll be a faithful king and bless you among the nations. In each one of these circumstances, the people were unfaithful, but God remained faithful and true to His Word and Promise. 
  5. And You are washed, protected, and brought into the family. In Ephesians 5:25-32 we read all the things Jesus has done for us. He gave himself for us. He washed and cleansed us. He presented us without spot. He wants the best for us. He nourishes us.
  6. As you submit. This is our half of the covenant. The word mentioned in Ephesians 5:22, 23, and 32 is a combination of a preposition meaning “under” and a verb meaning “plan.” God wants to see us “under the plan.” It’s controversial. But it’s the way God made it. He is looking to be a husband to us. And in turn his expectation is that we would be a wife “subjected to” him. Are you willing to be “subjected to him?” What would it look like in your Finances? In your physical health? Can you imagine if submitted to God’s plan for your business?
  7. Do you ever remember getting a great present or kind gift. Perhaps, you didn’t know how to use it. you had to follow the manual. The user manual wants you to get the best out of the equipment. The world tells us we understand enough to figure it out. How’s that been working for you?
  8. God has ordained, appointed, determined, set an abundant life for you and all you need to do is put yourself in submission to it. Memorize James 4:7: Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Proclaim the covenant you’re under. See if God doesn’t come to the rescue. We must be willing to submit ourselves to the covenant or we will not receive its benefits. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

You can watch this sermon and more via our Facebook Live Feed.

ROI: Sow Leadership, Reap Legacy


We are continuing on in our series on Kingdom Return on Investments. Here are top quotes and ideas from the installment on sowing our leadership.

  1. How is anything going to be better and different? What can anyone do? How will we deal with the issues the world is facing? How do you get any change to happen in your life? How about a lasting change? The answer is leadership.
  2. “Leadership is influence.” – Maxwell
  3. We have influence in a person’s life. Maybe it’s because of: job title, friendship, family, social media, service.
  4. When someone knows you have their best in mind, they are even more willing to give influence in their lives.
  5. Real leadership is not just barking orders and telling people to get in line. It’s about taking people to a destination. A lot of businesses or bosses just think it’s about using people to get something done. For this kind of leadership, you’re inviting people to go further than you. You’re setting them up for a success beyond yours.
  6. Leadership is hard. Don’t give up. Everybody on this earth is afraid. The difference is we know: 1) how the story ends, and 2) that God is on our side. Do you know you’re supposed to be the leader? How has God shown you? God showed Moses by meeting him and challenging him to walk into a situation he had tried before and failed at (Exodus 33:1-6)
  7. To lead, you have to go out to find God.  Never leave the tent. Do you have at least one person you take to the tent with you? Serve the leader (Exodus 33:7-11).
  8. God is searching for a people to lead this church, this city, this generation. ask and expect big things (Exodus 33:12-23).
  9. Jesus invested his all in you. He invested in His life into you. That’s what communion is all about. He’s planned a legacy for you. He said you’d do greater things (John 14:12).

Three Important Application Points

  1. Show what you know, Serve (spiritual) Children: Moses prepared Joshua to take Israel into the Promised Land. Invest your time in serving the younger generation and showing them how to be intimate with God. You’re learning to love God. Have that show up in your leadership. Somehow Moses infused Joshua with this yearning (Exodus 33).
  2. Give what you have, Invest Resources: David prepared Solomon, and they’re remembered forever. Invest your money in things that will last for generations (1 Chronicles 22).
  3. Release what you expect, Tell a story: Jesus prepared The Disciples To turn the world upside down. Invest your stories in the people you care about (Luke 18:1-6).

Tune in to weekly services on our Facebook Live feed here.

ROI: Sow Fruit, Reap Peace and Stability


We are continuing on in our series on Kingdom Return on Investments. Here are top quotes and ideas from the installment on sowing our spiritual fruit.

  1. Jesus can sleep in a storm because of the peace that dwells inside of him. Jesus’ life operated from a place of peace. Because he had this fruit at work in his life, he was able to sleep and in turn affected the situation around him rather than being affected by the situation (Mark 4:35-40).
  2. There’s a battle for your mind. We are to be renewed in our mind. The fruit of the Spirit are how that happens.
  3. The Scripture talks about peace. Bible Concordance on Peace. Primarily, there’s one aspect I want to point out to us: peace means being joined together, being whole. Peace is God’s gift of wholeness. Peace begets Peace.
  4. Our beliefs dictate our behaviors.
  5. The ultimate peacemaker is Jesus and what He did when He died on the cross for us. Think about Ephesians 2. He brought peace to those who were close and those who were far (Ephesians 2:13-14). He joined them together. We’re joined together with God because of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Three Application Points

  • Physical Fruit: Choosing to exercise self-control in a situation that you normally wouldn’t. You have to retrain your body to walk in self-control. Yesterday, I was walking through this market and I saw these beautiful chocolate covered strawberries. They were dipped in powdered sugar, and I’m not even kidding, they were the size of my hand. I said no. I exercised self-control. Something in my brain clicked.
  • Mental/Emotional Fruit: 40 Days of Negativity Fast. You have to retrain your brain to walk in peace. We’ve been doing some of these in our lives. There’s so much negativity in the world today. We need some positivity.
  • Spiritual Fruit: Declare peace. Come home to peace. Share the story from the small group book. (5 minutes). There are those who are overcome by circumstances and those who are overcomers. God says, you’re an overcomer. Read Romans 8. The peace that Jesus cultivated within him because of his closeness to the Father, was the peace that was spoken out over the storm. What storms are you facing? What does it look like to declare peace in those storms?

Tune in to weekly services on our Facebook Live feed here.