Leadership

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.

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.

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?

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Leadership Development: 7 Must-Have Relationships

Learning and growth is a lifelong experience. God’s training in our lives is useful for more than we know. Our word “discipleship” comes from the word “discipline.” God disciplines his children for their benefit so that they’ll grow into all He has prepared them to be (Hebrews 12:8). Discipline isn’t punishment, it’s growth. In my context (Aroma Coffee and Church), we want to walk with each other through a process of training and preparation for the greatness God has planned for each person. Although no process is perfect, we seek to strategize a method for preparing leaders through three stages of discipleship. Each stage has different trainings, opportunities for service, and overall outcomes.

Leaders in Training will follow a process similar to this. We know life is complicated and busy. We’re not trying to inundate our people with a long list of things to do. In fact, we believe much of this should happen in the context of relationships and life connection. Thus, we’re outlining a list of 7 major relational steps. Leadership development is done in the crucible of relationships, not by accomplishing a list of tasks or attending a number of classes. In the context of these relationships, we learn about life and leadership. We are formed into the character of Christ and learn to walk in the capacity of our gifts. We clearly define vision for your life and see how that fits into our ministry contexts. These seven relational steps were outlined for ongoing discussions in our coffee shop and church.

As you read through this, imagine yourself in your own context. Then, ask yourself where you’re at and what it would take for you to pursue the next step in relational leadership development. 

  1. Crowds are people who are attracted to something but might not even know why. To these people we say, “See you Sunday.” Our hope is that if you’re aspiring in leadership you would regularly make it to church on Sunday. Don’t forsake the fellowship of believers (Hebrews 10:25). Here you’ll learn about your identity in Christ and be challenged to receive from Truth in Scripture, sing songs to Jesus, and pray for each other.
  2. Friends are people who are interested in a little deeper connection. They are willing to go deeper with God and people through Small Groups. The early church cherished these small meetings as some of the most transformative times of life (Acts 2:42-47). Some people became believers in this context. Others grew deeply in their personal life and longing for loving each other. We also encourage you to go through a new believer’s class, get some basic discipleship understanding and form a habit of reading the Bible and praying everyday.
  3. Committed people are willing to Serve in an area. Some forms of service are wildly life giving. We will get to those soon. But first, we want to encourage you to serve somewhere in Aroma. Choose a simple place. Remain committed there for a season. Show God and those around you your willingness to stay committed to him even without accolades or fun mountain-top experiences (Matthew 10:42). Oftentimes, this is where people begin to sense a life calling. When we respond to what God is doing by humble service, He shows up in amazing ways. Committed people serve together.
  4. Followers go through a season of Learning and Growth. We realize that we have committed to something way beyond our own capacity. It stirs in us a hunger for more. This is where your character formation continues in Spirit and in Truth. We want you to understand more about spiritual gifts, walking by the Spirit, and living in the fullness of God. In this time, you read through the entire Bible, read other books, go to trainings, and spend time discussing leadership together, including how to make strategies and handle difficult situations and people. It’s at this time, if you haven’t already, that you need to grab some kind of a mentor figure and hold on to them tightly. Have at least one person in your life of whom you can ask questions and who will support and challenge you on your journey.
  5. Family is a strong word. We’re reserving it for a group of people who have made a deeper commitment to the Lord and each other. These people have covenanted together. Even Jesus had a process of walking with people from being merely friends to becoming followers and eventually family. In this season, we encourage you to make a commitment to a track of intimacy in relationship and ministry preparation. This includes things like joining a Huddle, committing to being a Core Member in small group or going through a year-long training called Support Team. During this time, you form more mentorship relationships and begin to fill something called the Table of Support, an outline for how to maintain healthy mentoring relationships. You open yourself to challenge from others. You show their ultimate willingness to submit and surrender to God by submitting to the leadership that God has put in place at Aroma.
  6. Core describes a group of people who go through another season of extended Learning and Growth. Like the disciples Peter, James and John, core people are taken to greater depths in their walk with God for a purpose, similar to the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17). They had special experiences with Jesus and as such they were given more difficult responsibilities. Jesus always takes us through seasons of invitation and challenge. His ultimate goal is that we would be shaped into His image, to represent Him to the world so that Heaven can come to Earth and all people on Earth can go to Heaven. During this season you grow in your capacity for ministry in a particular area through things like training certifications and deep coaching relationships. You develop a high capacity for leadership and see yourself as long-term leader in The Aroma and beyond.
  7. Faithful Creators are people who pursue a legacy. They live for something beyond themselves. They long to see their [spiritual] children’s children flourish. They live out a full Table of Support, initiating and sustaining relationships that fill their life with meaning and purpose. By this time, you are learning to pass on your character and capacity to those around you, raising up others (Ephesians 4:12) to do the greater works Jesus promised (John 14:12). As you humbly walk before God, you are given increasing authority for the purpose of raising others up and serving the people.

Where do you fit in right now? Are you simply showing up as a member of the crowd? Or have you shown an intense interest in covenanting together with your people even to the point of producing legacy beyond yourselves?

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!