What’s APEST? APEST in an acronym for the people gifts in Ephesians 4:11 ~ “So Christ himself gave the Apostles, the Prophets, the Evangelists, the Shepherd/pastors and Teachers.”
What’s more important? Identifying who’s who in the spiritual gifts department or recognizing what people are gifted in what ways for God’s purposes, Kingdom living, and the edification of the church body? For example, what does a post resurrection prophet do? How can the church know what he or she looks like? How can the church foster those traits, or in the least, remove the obstacles which will allow them to flourish? Isn’t it more important to reinforce prophetic action than to reinvent prophets? Should we toss out the designations and focus on the discipleship?
Every APEST movement in recent history has fallen on its face. From Edward Irving in 1824, to John Alexander Dowie in 1896, to the Azusa Street revival in 1906, to the Sharon Orphanage in Canada in 1948, to the Charismatic Movement of the late 1960s, to Peter Wagner’s conference at Fuller Theological Seminary entitled the National Symposium on the “Post-Denominational Church,” to the current movements.
What makes the modern APEST movements a little bit different is that they, for the most part, are not seeking “titles” or pushing the positions of the Apostle & Prophet. Some still do, but they are usually the APEST movements that try to emerge from traditional, hierarchical, and clergical structures. The TITLES of ‘Pastor,’ ‘Teacher,’ and ‘Evangelist,’ are readily accepted in those paradigms. My point is that APEST movements tend to circle the drain. Why is that? I think it’s because the church, over and over again, gets more focused on categorizing than community, more focused on designation than discipleship, more focused on ‘cashing in’ than on Christ.
Here’s my proposition:
Let’s reexamine the examples of post resurrection apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers. Let’s look at what they actually did. Let’s look at how their actions edified the church. Let’s figure out not only how to imitate them, but “do even greater things” (John 14:12), than they did. Let’s stop classifying people and herding them into anemic and abiblical roles for the advancement of our own agendas. Let’s not breathe life back into old and ineffective APEST movements. Even the recently dead will twitch, jerk, and writhe about when zapped with shock paddles.
Am I wrong here? Feel free to “let me have it.”
This is a follow-up post to: “A Crisis of Sorts… Regarding APEST” That post will give you some background, and you may read it here.