I want to encourage you to read The Shaping of Things to Come, must reading for, as the sub-title says, “Innovation and Mission for the 21st Century Church.”

Many authors are done with their point by the middle of the book, but not Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch. They keep getting in your face till the last of the 230 pages.

I’ll jump around some and won’t go directly through the book, so I want to start with something I marked on page 168. They first quote Ephesians 4:1-16 then say this:

The Pauline logic that asserts the church is gathered around one Lord/faith/baptism is the the same logic that says God has specifically and deliberately (and with purpose) placed this pattern of ministry/gifting in his church. We therefore claim that this text is grammactically, theologically, and thematically indivisible. There simply can be no other conclusion. One cannot break the text into compartments without destroying its total meaning and force . . . the mission is here directly related to its ministry structure.

The authors speak boldly with little concession for the church that structures itself differently, but chapter ten does not give great examples of this in practice. They mention that Alan “has been involved in a similar organizational reconstruction around the APEPT idea for his denomination both at state and international levels in the form of a nornformal, very talented, trinational body called the International Missional Team (IMT).”

It occurs to me here that those without large denominational structures, such as the locally led and “autonomous” Churches of Christ, are in much better position to transition to this kind of structure. The authors repudiate in this chapter the “pastor” system of many evangelical churches. We in Churches of Christ have already done that, but we should not congratulate ourselves too quickly: we still have three things they also pinpoint that New Testament speaks little or nothing about: ministers, buildings, focus on a “service.”

I found this one word analogy of what Hirsch and Frost call APEPT, helpful:

Apostle = Entrepreneur

Prophet = Questioner

Evangelist = Recruiter

Pastor = Humanizer

Teacher = Systematizer