Aroma

Posts about the mission, vision, values, future of our Aroma Project in Taipei Taiwan

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.

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 Time, Reap Freedom and Breakthrough


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

  1.  I recently watched a movie called “Arq.”
  2. The Bible is full of the word “time.” Let’s just think about how much “time” is involved in our lives. How many of you set an alarm to wake up this morning? Do you look at your watch or phone more than 5 times a day (I was originally going to write hour, because it’s true of me). Time manages your work schedule. Time ages you. Time even controls the way you play games. But when we’re not cognizant of time and it’s effects, and subsequently we’re unable to invest time.
  3. Chronos vs Kairos. In the Greek Bible, there are at least two words for time: Chronos and Kairos. Imagine Chronos is like a timeline. It’s just coming. They personified Chronos with an old man that looked like Father Time. Chronos is fatalistic. It just keeps passing on and there’s not much you can do about it. You’re sort of stuck with what you got. Kairos, on the other hand, is personified as a young, dashing man. He’s strong. He’s ready. “Carpe Diem, let’s take the day and make something of it,” is Kairos’ big idea. If we’re going to invest time, we need to understand these two concepts and put them to work for us.
  4. You can manage chronos to make the greatest impact in your life. Here’s an idea for how to do that: turn off notifications on your phone. The reason you won’t is because you’re addicted to feeling like people want you. Sorry friend, that’s just not real. I check my email in the morning before I pray because I’d rather know that someone needs me than that God wants me. It’s a messiah complex. For some of you, it’s not about feeling needed. You have deep relational holes in your heart and you’re trying to fill them with bits and bytes. It’s why all of these apps are spending more and more time in our phones. You have wasted hours, days, perhaps even years of your life staring at your phone. If you’re willing to repent, you are forgiven. You are so much more than that. I rebuke the spirit of lies that tells you you’re not good enough and you need a notification to tell you you have friends and purpose. I ask Holy Spirit to come and fill you. I bless you to live a life of Him being enough and not needing to always have notifications blazing on your phone.
  5. Chronos is ticking, but you don’t have to lose this one. There’s victory that can come by running when He says Run and Resting when He says Rest.
  6. Kairos is a divine opportunity. Do you know you don’t pass through one day without a Kairos moment? The problem is, you’re not paying attention. We don’t have margin in our lives to see them. And even when we’re in the midst of them, we don’t know how to discern them or learn from them or move forward in them. So we pass from divine opportunity to divine opportunity not learning from them and thus missing the investments we could be making in the ways God is teaching us and walking with us. This is where breakthrough can come. We can learn to discern what God’s saying so as to respond with correct obedience.
  7. For the greatest freedom and breakthrough in your life, learn to 1) see and pray in chronos and kairos moments, 2) utilize your chronos, and 3) seize your kairos.

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

One Step to Improvement in Anything

I have what some may call a complicated life. I’m married with two kids. I own a small business. I pastor a local church and am also on the music team. I am a local and regional developer for an international service organization. I also love reading and gathering information about various fields of interest. I work 60-70 hours per week and often find myself switching from meeting to meeting only finding time to make progress on emails after 8pm or before 7am. 

The more I try to make this work, the more I realize it’s pretty near impossible. The good news is I recently stumbled on to a single step that is the thrust of some of the best vision-casting, strategic-thinking, productivity-hacker, go-getters out there. You read about it in design books. You hear about it in TED Talks. Apple Computer does this. There are business books on it, church books on it, cross-cultural books describe it. Go anywhere, read anything, and you’re likely to be interacting with someone who is saying something around this step. Once you commit to this, you can have some big-time breakthroughs.

The step is easy, but it’s also hard. Once you hear it, there’s a good chance you’re going to laugh out loud. But please here me out before you dismiss it. I want your life to be abundant and filled with purpose and excellence. If you’re interested in those things, and so much more, then give this step a shot. 

Simplify.

That’s it. Simplify. Cut things out of your life. Here are some really practical examples of simplifying that have happened in my life recently:

  • I, by force, have had to cut out my computer (it’s been in the for repairs for almost three weeks). I have one less device to charge, and my bag is lighter when I carry it back and forth to work. 
  • The coffee shop released a new menu that cut the number of pages customers have to look at in half. 
  • Our church leadership decided to stick with our three step modeled process for discipleship rather than trying to create an elaborate flow chart. Of course, there are still things we can do to improve, but sticking to a three step process instead of 15-18 steps like I had imagined keeps us in check. 

If you want some practical advice for simplifying your life, try some of these. 

  • Turn off notifications on your phone and limit the times you check your email each day. 
  • List everything in X category out by priority/sales or whatever importance factors you have and cut the last 25%. Then, cut another 25%.
  • Limit the agenda of the meeting to three items.
  • Call instead of texting.