Education

Posts about education philosophies, strategies, both in Asia and around the world.

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.

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New Breakthrough OUTWARD in 2017

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At Aroma, we’ve developed a habit of beginning each new year with a time of prayer and fasting. We believe it’s a special way to usher ourselves into a new year with a focus on God’s work in our lives. This year, we had a coinciding sermon series:

prayer-and-fasting-2017

 Our second week focused on our inward relationship with the body of believers. Here are 10 of my personal notes and highlights from the content of the sermon.

  1. Throughout history, from biblical times until now, we have seen thousands of testimonies of cultural revival happening because of a chosen group of people who set themselves aside to pray and fast. 
  2. Azusa Street Revival started in 1906 as a small prayer meeting. Since then, they estimate over 600,000,000 people who have given their lives to Christ can be connected to this prayer meeting.
  3. Daniel was reading Jeremiah and realized that the prophecy was supposed to come true in the year in which he lived, but he didn’t see any revival happening. 
  4. Daniel said no to pleasant things. The Hebrew word here is “Shemuda” (credit attributed to Bill Johnson). When the Angel visits Daniel, he says, he addresses Daniel as “God’s dearly beloved.” The word here is “Shemuda. Something happens when we give up our rights to Shemuda. It’s almost as if our release of Shemuda allows us to become Shemuda to God. Daniel denied his right to desirable things here (Earth), in so doing became desirable there (heaven). Something is added to the favor realm by saying “I know I have a right, but for this season I’m going to say no. I want to push into something that’s greater.” 
  5. Yes, Jesus loves you. No, you can’t stay the same. 
  6. Daniel repented for his friends. We usually just judge our friends. We have to be the ones who can get in the middle of a situation without becoming that situation.
  7. The Angel was sent at the beginning of Daniel’s fast. It took him 21 days to get there, because of spiritual battle. It’s almost as if the Angel was saying, “Thank you for not giving up.”
  8. We underestimate the influence our prayer and fasting has on Earth and in Heaven.
  9. God gives us specific windows of time, or opporutnities, to press into Him to see extreme breakthrough in society. 
  10. Which area of society are you called to: arts and entertainment, business, education, family, government, media, religion?

New Breakthrough INWARD in 2017

Embed from Getty Images

At Aroma, we’ve developed a habit of beginning each new year with a time of prayer and fasting. We believe it’s a special way to usher ourselves into a new year with a focus on God’s work in our lives. This year, we had a coinciding sermon series:

prayer-and-fasting-2017

 Our second week focused on our inward relationship with the body of believers. Here are 10 of my personal notes and highlights from the content of the sermon.

  1. God doesn’t want us to be unaware. He wants us to be fully aware (1 Corinthians 12:1)
  2. God is close. He’s close to us through the life of Jesus in the gospels (John 1:1), and He’s close to us through Holy Spirit (John 14:16), and He’s close to us through each other (John, 20:22, Matthew 18:20). The world knows us by our love (John 13:35) for each other. 
  3. Our life in Christ can’t be fully realized unless we do it within the context of Christian fellowship. 
  4. Only in this crucible can our commitment to Christlikeness be lived out. Interestingly enough, this context, the fellowship of believers (Acts 2:42-47), is both where God’s Presence Manifests (UPWARD) and where people get saved (OUTWARD). 
  5. “Struggle drains you of the illusion of self-sufficiency.” Leadership Freak, Dan Rockwell
  6. Fast on behalf of someone for the purpose of seeing cultural, systemic change in yourself and in them. The motive is love, not your way. Consider their needs above your own (think Esther). Declare a new season of breakthrough. 
  7. Fast in order to strengthen the word of the Lord on a person’s life. (think Paul being sent on his missionary journeys after they laid hands on him (Acts 13). Receive words and pictures that you can share with people. 
  8. Fast for extreme breakthrough in the community (think “the number was added to daily” from Acts 2:42-47). Pray people in to the family of God. 
  9. Fast together by sharing what you’re going through and praying for each other (think community in Matthew 6). Use what you know to intercede for that person.
  10. Fast on behalf of someone to receive biblical insight in an area (think 2 Timothy 3:16). Use Scripture to declare life over that person. 

New Breakthrough UPWARD in 2017

Embed from Getty Images

At Aroma, we’ve developed a habit of beginning each new year with a time of prayer and fasting. We believe it’s a special way to usher ourselves into a new year with a focus on God’s work in our lives. This year, we had a coinciding sermon series:

prayer-and-fasting-2017

 Our first week focused on our upward relationship with God. Here are 10 of my personal notes and highlights from the content of the sermon.

  1. Fasting is giving up something physical to pursue God’s spiritual best.
  2. God has presents for us. We often have to be willing to let go of what we’re holding on to in order to actually receive what He wants to give us.
  3. Relationship with God is a radical and well-rounded pursuit.
  4. Our life is often a tension between two things. There’s absolute truth in God, and there’s an in-absolute journey of God getting us there. It’s the joy and pain of life.
  5. You don’t get anywhere by being half something. The world is looking for a radical picture of life abundant.
  6. The goal of fasting is disciplining yourself so that you’ll receive. Abide in me. Discipline yourself. Then, you’ll bear fruit. Man doesn’t live on bread alone. Do we really believe our spiritual is as important as our physical nourishment. All of these say, “Trust God first. Rely on God first. Then, you’ll get what you need.”
  7. Manna, or God’s supernatural provision in your life, happens in the desert (Exodus 16:1-12).
  8. God is drawing us to an intimate relationship with Him. He’s inviting us upward, to abide. He’s inviting us to receive daily manna, or supernatural provision, in our lives for him. He’s inviting us to deny, even the good things in our lives, so we can walk in His best.
  9. Your taste buds physically reset after 21 days.
  10. Jesus is the only one tempted in every way as we are and yet without sin. One of the greatest examples of temptation he went through happened in Matthew 4. As he was fasting, Jesus was tempted with personal gain (loaves from stones), fame (angels’ care), and political power (the authority over all the nations in the world) (from Redeeming Sex).

Face the Facts; Keep the Faith

A long time ago, I read a book in which the author penned, “Great leaders can face the facts and keep hopeful expectation for the future” (Collins in Good to Great).  I’ve been challenged to do that even more recently. The fact is, there’s a lot that I can improve on as a leader and manager. I recently got some fantastic feedback based off a book called 42 Rules For Your New Leadership Role.

I asked a key leader in each area of Aroma along with two people I knew would give honest feedback beyond their role to give ratings to each of the 42 rules. It was tough feedback, but filled with clear, actionable data to move forward on. Here are four things I suck at and a brief preview of how I plan to improve them in the next quarter:

  1. Set your milestones. It’s hard to reach a goal if you’re not sure what the goal is. I often fail to be specific in setting goals. Another book offers a great way  to outline clear goals: “From X to Y by Date.” If I can be clearer with a goal that is a “WIN” (What’s important now), people are going to know more clearly how to focus their work. This is highly related to Boundaries for Leaders. What’s important right now? If I don’t clearly say what’s most important, I have no right to be frustrated when people aren’t making forward progress on that a particular issue. It’s time for focus and clarity.
  2. Tune up your team and Launch 1:1’s that actually drive performance (2 combined). I work with many amazing people. I’m excited to see them continue to grow. I put these two together, because they’re intimately connected. As one leader recently challenged me, “You have to be spending more time with your key people.” I often turn those times into sessions that are longer than they need to be. Again, being clear about expectations at the onset allows people to focus on what’s most important. Spending tim with each person on the team is highly valuable. It’s good for their health, mine, and their future growth both personally and for the organization.
  3. Run unmissable meetings. Sometimes, I don’t even want to go to the meetings I call. That has to change. Meetings need to be compelling because they have unmissable information, healthy debate, decisiveness, and a small dose of engaging humor.
  4. Model healthy paranoia. As a big-picture, idea guy, I sometimes get annoyed when people ask things like “How’s that actually going to happen.” Fortunately, these people haven’t given up just because I’ve been rebellious. I’m learning, through more than one source, that healthy paranoia is more than useful!

I actually got a rating a little higher than an F. The good news is I passed. The great news is I still have tons of room for growth. I’m looking forward to this next season.

I encourage you as a leader or manager to ferret out feedback (one of the 42 rules) from people that you work with. It’s one of the toughest, but most fruitful, ways to learn and grow personally and professionally. If you’d like to know more about the book, the test I created, or how you can grow as a leader and manager, please drop me a line. Here’s to your success!

One Breakthrough You Can Have Today

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Our brains are much more powerful than we even know. Perhaps, Lucy wasn’t that far off. A blended thought I had recently came as a result of reading Boundaries for Leaders. In it, Henry Cloud outlines how chemicals in our brains interact based on how much hope we have.

Many of us struggle when something negative comes. We begin believing it’s personal (our fault), pervasive (we do it all the time), permanent (there’s nothing we can do about it). The truth is, many of these are untrue. But we end up hurting ourselves. Our brains actually release a fight or flight chemical that causes our brains to shut down. We get less creative and produce less results. Being aware of these negative thoughts, and taking every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) can help immensely.

Conversely, when we live in hope and optimism, our brains release chemicals that actually increase “executive functions” including creativity, goal selection, planning and organization, initiation and persistence, flexibility, execution and goal attainment, and self-regulation. As a believer, you are invited to be the most hopeful person on the planet (1 Corinthians 15).  I welcome you to allow Christ’s hope to come into you. It’s not wishful thinking.  It’s true hope rooted in the resurrection and reassured that God is going to do something, and He’s going to do it through you.

It’s science.

The Power of Positive Thinking is a short book (available in free online audio) that continues some of these thoughts while giving some really specific ways of walking this out in everyday life.

Should You Kill Your Most Important Meeting? (We Just Did)

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On June 12th, we started a renewal process at The Aroma. A group comprised of some of the leaders of the coffee shop, church and Envision are coming together for weekly times of prayer and discussion revolving around our intimacy with God, vision, values, teamwork, workflow, and learning and growth moving forward. Much of what I share throughout the coming weeks will be insights gained from this 90 day process.

Every organization has meetings and not everyone is always excited about them. But meetings should be purposeful and effective. ReWork has some great insights on why meetings stink and how to make them better.

For the past year, we’ve tried a new meeting called 30/90. It’s once-a-month chance to get leaders from all three parts of Aroma into the same room to celebrate what God has done the last 30 days and look forward to what God’s going to do the next 90 days. But many people are particularly un-excited about this one. In fact, a group of leaders from the coffee shop, church and Envision spent time talking about the purpose of the 30/90 meeting and whether we are actually fulfilling that purpose or not.

We talked about our personal views, community views and overall aroma views on the usefulness of the meeting and found that 62.5% of us voting believe that it is not useful for us personally, our community elements, or Aroma as a whole. We believe it’s because we aren’t communicating the information or how it relates to each group well. Because of that, people don’t care enough about the information, which means they aren’t actually engaging with it or praying about it during the rest of the month. Additionally, almost 50 hours of labor are spent preparing for and attending the meeting. That’s hugely wasteful!

Instead, we are going to 1) communicate the vision of Aroma, 2) share specific wins and losses, 3) make metrics more available, and 4) create spaces and times for us to pray together.

How about you? What’s something wasteful that’s missed it’s purpose? Can you repurpose it? If not, maybe you should kill it.