Life

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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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!

Are you “Restless?” (中文版)

Sbrocca’s book on “entering your personal promised land” is filled to the brim, dare I say overflowing, with practical systems for aligning yourself with what God is doing in your life.

The miracle part of this book review starts all the way back in February 2013. I signed up for the “Heaven in Business” conference hosted by Bethel. The plan was to listen to the speakers and begin praying for Heaven in Business including the work I was doing for an English school at the time as well as my primary ministry/business focus: The Aroma.

Rick Sbrocca’s session detailed one part of the book and gave away free copies. So I chased down the organizer of the event via email and found out they were actually willing to ship it to me.

Wait four months. Nothing.

I reopened my conversation with them and a second copy of the book was sent my way (both copies were sent for free). I received the book and in it was a handwritten letter from Rick himself with a prayer just for me. I’m not sure if he does this for everyone, but it sure made me special. A highly successful businessman (his current firm went from $4,000,000US to $16,000,000US within a couple of years, I believe) taking the time and energy to connect with me personally was touching. Not to mention the $18 shipping charge they paid out of pocket as well.

All that to say, there was something genuine about this book from the beginning. Now, when I say it’s full of systems, I have to admit that I’ve not done all of them yet. I feel working through the book more slowly is better than trying to rush through it all so that I could say I finished reading it. I’ve not read the whole thing yet, but I wanted to encourage you to try to get ahold of a copy yourself.

Sbrocca is a powerful storyteller and begins with a chapter that carves out a story of a prodigal.

He moves on to outline the following:

  • The 7 R’s of Rest
  • The 7 F’s of Freedom
  • The 7 V’s of Victory
  • The 7 C’s of Champion

Each of these systems, if on their own, would be enough to keep me metricising my life for months to come.  Needless to say, I’ll be in this book for a while.  Each section has lots of anecdotal help along with room for personal reflection and even space to write out thoughts.  It’s really more of a workbook.

So far, my favorite piece to work through was an acronym he created called “PAUSE.”  He uses this to maintain a close watch on his inner life so as to maintain perpetual connection to the lifesource, his relationship with Father God. The idea is to be measuring and to continually be aware of what’s happening.

Restless Book Cover

絲貝若卡的“進入應許之地”的書,真是太好看,好看到滿出來了,其中有教實用的方法讓你跟神的作工密切的結合。

我覺得這本書最奇妙的事要從2013年2月講起,那時我參加了一個由貝索舉辦的 “天國的事業”講座,那時打算聽聽他會講什麼和為我的 “天國的事業”禱告,我那時除了在學校教英文還有我主要的傳道重心/事業:馨香堂

絲貝若卡里客的講座主要是詳細講述書的一個部份和送些書,所以我寄了封電子郵件給此活動的籌辦人,而他願意寄一本給我。

我苦等了一個月卻毫無音訊。

我只好再跟他們聯絡,他們又重新寄了一本免費的給我,我收到書的時後發現裡面有一封為我祈禱的信,是里克本人親手寫的,我不確定他是不是會為每個人寫信,但確實還是讓我覺得很特別,讓我感動的是一個如此成功的商業人士願意花他的時間和力氣寫信給我(我相信他現在的身價在幾年之間已經從之前的四百萬美金攀升到一千六百萬),更不用說他們還花了十八塊美金的運費寄書給我!

我想說的是,這本書確實有它厲害的地方在。我必須承認我還沒實踐完這整本書,雖然我一直在說這本書有多棒有多好,但是我屬於慢慢的實行而不是急著把整本書的方法都做一遍,雖然我看完這本書了,不過還沒參透整本書,即便如此我還是想鼓勵你們看這本書。

我不得不說絲貝若卡是一個很厲害的說故事者,而這本書的第一章大致上刻劃出了整本書的大綱。

之後開始進入書的主軸

  • 七種寧靜

  • 七種自由

  • 七種勝利

  • 七種冠軍

之後的幾個月,這幾個方法都足以讓我來檢視自己,更不用說我還會花幾個月來看這本書,每個章節都有些奇聞軼事,或是些小區塊讓你記下對這段的看法更甚者,會給你一塊空間去發揮你的想法,這絕不僅僅只是本規範手冊。

目前為止我最想實踐的是一個他創造的取首字母縮寫詞“PAUSE”,他用這詞持續檢視他的心靈,為了能維持跟生命之源─耶穌基督之間永恆的關係,這構想是為了能夠審視和持續意識到正在發生的事情。

我想鼓勵你們讓自己進入一個神賜與的應許之地,因為那裡充滿著寧靜、自由和勝利。神渴望給予你祂的寧靜。

In it for the long haul

I’ve only been doing this for 5 years, but sometimes it feels like 500. It’s important to stay in it for the long haul. Unfortunately, in our race to do things ever-faster, we end up burning a lot of people out. The following is a brief list of encouraging words about staying in it for the long haul assembled from various sources.

  1. Driscoll’s “Call to Endure” outlines five areas to keep track of so that you can stay in it for a long time: The Call is to Endure 1) spiritually, 2) physically, 3) maritally / parentally, 4) theologically, and 5) relationally. I highly recommend this (video and audio are available) and personally go back to it about once every 6 months.
  2. Rainer’s “10 Characteristics of Leaders Who Last” shares some great insights: 1) Begin with the end in mind, 2) have a big vision, 3) take care of yourself spiritually, 4) get sleep, exercise and good food, 5) prioritize family, 6) be kind, 7) delegate, 8) don’t be discouraged, 9) keep real friends close, 10) learn to laugh

I’ve narrowed these down to a personal “to done” list, want to share them with close friends, and commit to checking on myself every quarter. DON’T GIVE UP! God loves you too much, and your life, family, work is too important!

  • Pray and Listen: I want to talk to God, but I long even more to hear from God.
  • Prioritize and Be Spontaneous: This is for the family. Make them a priority and just simply choose to be spontaneous and free in doing something crazy to bless them!
  • Write and Read: That’s why I started the blog, but I also want to learn on a variety of topics including academic, entertaining, spiritual, business-related, practical, relational, you name it.
  • Work and Rest. Learning to rest is something I want to grow in.
  • Exercise and Sleep. I need to keep these in balance.
  • Eat and Fast. I want to keep a rhythm and balance of the two.
  • Connect and Disconnect. The latter may be more difficult.

I want to be around to honor this:

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children

Proverbs 13:22