In keeping with the format of www.missioalliance.org, here’s this week’s second post from Ty Grigg, a pastor at Life on the Vine Christian Community. Read about him here. In this post, Ty is posting a reflection to the feedback he received from his last poston the APEST model of minsiytry (here). Remember, Ty wrote that post as a letter to the website Release The APE critiquing the concept of APEST as a leadership hermeneutic in line with Scripture. He wanted a chance (being the sensitive man that he is) to repent for his arrogance… er I mean (just kidding)… offer some further reflections as to what the discussion about APEST taught him. So here goes. Join in with Ty via the comments. Won’t you?
As I have processed the comments and feedback from the “Pushback on APEST” post from last month, and the ensuing dialogue with Beau over at Release The APE, I find myself asking whether the APEST model is symptomatic of larger trends, approaches, and practices in our missional camp. Here are two questions I have after reflecting on that post. I’d be interested to know your thoughts.
1. What is the relationship between practitioners and academia in the missional movement? Outside of missional theology, our approach seems driven by pragmatism undergirded by pseudo-scholarship. In other words, we’ve already come to our conclusion through experience and then we seek to back it up with biblical scholarship. (Is that fair? Is there traces of anti-intellectualism in this approach?) In regards to APEST, there seems to be a disconnect between what commentaries/bible scholars/church historians have said in regards to Eph. 4 and what practitioners are saying. How do we bridge this gap and have these two groups in closer dialogue?
2. What are we saying about how leadership/authority functions in the church? In regards to the APEST, there are some that say “this is just for leaders” and others that say “this is for every Christian” and then others who have various hybrid models of leaders/everyone. Of course, we believe in the priesthood of all believers. We’ve mostly said ‘yes’ to some form of distributed leadership that involves a plurality of pastors, mutually submissive, and polycentric according to Spirit-gifting. We believe that Jesus is the head of the church and the Spirit is the one who gathers, guides, and sends us into God’s mission. We’ve mostly said ‘no’ to the CEO-type, one authoritative senior pastor who helms the rudder of the ship. But I wonder in our efforts to be humble, non-hierarchical, submissive, and inclusive (and to avoid the abuse of power at all costs), are we in danger of throwing out spiritual authority altogether? Our relationship with leadership and authority is complicated and we need more healthy discussion about the place of leadership and authority.
A clarification: My critique was not about APEST as a model of leadership like Dave’s title suggested, but a critique of APEST on the whole. If anything, I’m more comfortable talking about it in terms of leaders because I read Eph. 4:11 being about people who have been given spiritual authority by Christ to minister the Word of God among a community of believers.
A regret: It probably was not fair that Release the APE was singled out as the recipient of the critique. Beau and I have communicated back and forth and I look forward to connecting with him more in the future. My intention was to simply offer a peer review on the theory of the APEST as it is being presented at Release the APE but also, before RTA, in Hirsch and Catchim’s Permanent Revolution with Mike Breen from 3DM assisting with the exegesis there and J.R. Woodward’s Creating a Missional Culture. These are all excellent practitioners and writers who God is using in mighty ways for the Kingdom. My respect greatly outweighs the critique. My hope is that the discussion will help all of us to keep discerning the Spirit’s leading in our church communities.