Leading ‘APEST Unction’

Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, Teacher (APEST) is embedded in humans as part of the image of God and activated with Spirit power on mission with Jesus.

by Sherri Martin

The words, ‘functioning in God-given unction,’ flowed freely at LMC’s Fall Leadership Assembly on September 25, 2021. The leadership assembly was planned and facilitated by Supervisor Samuel Lopez, CIES District; Bishop Rodney Martin, Conestoga River District; Bishop Keith Blank, Landisville-Manor District; and Bishop Glenn Kauffman, Washington-Baltimore District. Held at Capital Christian Fellowship in Lanham, Maryland, a unique focus illuminated the day. The worship, fellowship, and speakers centered around Ephesians 4:11-13 “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

As God’s church on God’s mission, LMC believes that the Holy Spirit is the One who breathes life into a Spirit-led movement to make disciples of Jesus, mobilize every member as a missionary, and multiply faith communities locally and beyond. As the day unfolded, God stirred among His people through a sense of trust in the Spirit and openness to journey together. Bishop Glenn Kauffman described “unction” as an old King James word that means “anointing.” How do followers of Jesus “function in God-given unction?” It begins with Jesus as Lord dispersing His ministering anointing and impulses among His body. APEST (Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, Teacher) is an acronym for the strands of the ministering anointing of Jesus mentioned in Ephesians 4. Because there are other biblical texts that speak to spiritual gifts, spiritual fruit, and character, Bishop Glenn stated, “APEST is not proof-texting from Ephesians 4. Rather, Ephesians 4 is a portal through which to see APEST flowing throughout the New Testament. Each disciple in the church carries a portion of the anointing of the Anointed One. APEST is embedded in humans as part of the image of God and activated with Spirit power as we begin and grow as disciples on mission with Jesus.” Glenn provided a summary titled, APEST Functions for God’s Church on God’s Mission, compiled from several of Alan Hirsch’s works. All APEST unctions hold a vision. It is simply carried with specific motivation and is designed to team with the other unctions to produce the fruitfulness that God desires.

APOSTLE:  Sees far. “Go and makes disciples” Mt. 28:19

  • Sent one – Sending one
  • Ambassador
  • Pioneer function of the Church
  • Extends Christianity as a healthy – integrated – innovative – reproducing movement – ever expanding into new cultures – and from generation to generation
  • Guardian of the essential DNA of God’s mission in the world
  • Focus solely on initiating new ideas and rapid expansion without caring for and nurturing people (shepherd and teaching function) can leave people wounded

PROPHET: Sees truth. “I AM the way, the truth, and the life…” Jn. 14:6 

  • Absolute loyalty and faithfulness to God above all
  • Guardian of the covenant relationship of God and His people
  • Living life consistent with the covenant and challenge the dominant assumptions we inherit from the culture
  • Justice – Spiritual warfare – Holiness
  • Without other APEST leaders in place prophets can become belligerent activist or disengage from relevant relationships 

EVANGELIST: Sees wide. “Come and see” Jn. 1:39

  • Proclamation of the good news
  • Core message of the church received by various groups of people and cultures
  • Storyteller, recruiter to the cause
  • Enlist people into what God is doing in and through the church
  • Focus on those outside the church can bring neglect to maturing and strengthening those inside

SHEPHERD: Sees whole. “Abide in Me and I in you.” Jn. 15:4 

  • Maintaining and developing healthy community and enriching relationships
  • Form a saintly people, nurture spiritual maturity, communal health, mature network of relationship, protect God’s flock
  • Can value stability to the detriment of mission and foster unhealthy dependency upon themselves

TEACHER: Sees deep. “You have heard it was said, but I say to you…” Mt. 5:27-28 

  • Understands, explains and communicates God’s Truth and wisdom that helps to train and guide
  • Integrates the intellectual and spiritual—encoding it so it can be passed from generation to generation (develops doctrine)
  • Left alone, can fall into dogmatism or dry intellectualism; may fail to see personal or missional aspects of the Church’s ministry 

Vibrant conversation in small groups centered around APEST unction and missional movement. It was less about information and more about impartation. What was heard? What does the Holy Spirit desire to recreate within us? How do we flow with Him in this movement? Grappling through questions in small groups was enlightening, considering a broader context. Two experiences were shared where missional movement, multiplication, and APEST unction are flourishing within distinct parts of LMC and the world. 

Bishop Rodney Martin (left) and Jim Sutton meet MKC Leaders in Ethiopia. Photo by Tom Eshelman

Bishop Rodney Martin, with a small group of LMC Bishops, traveled to Ethiopia in 2019 to visit leaders in Meserete Kristos Church (MKC). MKC grew out of Eastern Mennonite Missions in the 1950’s post-WWII. Within their highly structured and organized network of churches, MKC has multiplication in their DNA. As soon as a church is established or planted, it begins its own process of multiplication. When the Bishops arrived for their two-week visit, there were 38 regional offices. When they departed, there were 40. MKC reported 1000+ church plants. MKC gives every indication of a Spirit-led, missional movement. 

Supervisor Samuel Lopez spoke about a trip that he and Pastor Hugo Garcia, mission director of the Shalom Council (CIES) took in 2019. Traveling to Tikka, Kenya to attend the annual IMA meeting, they stayed on to participate in an evangelistic outreach sponsored by Global Outreach Ministries. Thousands of believers from many denominations were evangelizing in the cities of Kenya resulting in thousands of new believers receiving Jesus Christ’s gift of salvation. Supervisor Samuel said, “We began to pray and ask God, what can we do here in the US? What is the challenge for our Spanish Churches?” By the leading of the Holy Spirit and a call to unity, a team was formed to develop a new vision for Shalom Council.  Although the composition of the group was never talked about between Supervisor Samuel and Pastor Hugo, the leading of the Holy Spirit was evidenced by its APEST DNA. Supervisor Samuel said, “In the body of Christ we all are needed to function and carry out the mission. One thing we are sure, God will do great things beyond our understanding. That’s our faith and that’s our hope. Brothers and sisters, we need to recapture the call of Jesus.” Ephesians 4:2-3 gives us a picture of God’s will for unity in the body of Christ. “When these characteristics are practiced in our churches, in our families, and in our conference, then we can say we are living a true Christian unity. Love is essential to move us.” 

Bishop Keith Blank wrapped up the morning session by highlighting six-movement characteristics, the basic DNA needed for a missional movement. Alan Hirsch identifies these six as the dynamics that lead to the rapid, indigenous multiplication of the gospel. As the movement of the Spirit increases and is realized, Christian communities are inspired to shake off their collective securities and form themselves around a common mission that calls them to an adventurous journey to unknown places. Lord Jesus, may it be so!

Video Series ONLINE

Alan Hirsch: The DNA of Gospel Movement
In these seven videos, Alan HJisch articulates de DNA of Gospel Movements and the dynamics that lead to the rapid, indegenous multiplication of the gospel.

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