ImageMichael Frost and Alan Hirsch write in “The Shaping of Things to Come,” “One of the most significant aspects needed for the transition from Christendom mode to a missional mode of church [is] a shift to apostolic leadership.  In fact, without this the missional church is unlikely to rise at all, and if it does manage to survive birth, it will not last long because it will lack the leadership structure to sustain it over the long distance.  If anything, a new type of leadership must precede any meaningful transition to missional church” (Frost and Hirsch: 165).  I believe that this apostolic leadership is key to the missional church rising, being sustained, and carrying out ministry within the 21st century context.  Basically, the apostolic leadership model centers around the four gifts found in Ephesians 4:7, 11-13, “But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift… The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” 


            “Apostolic, Prophetic, Evangelistic, Shepherd, Teaching.  This is APEST.  All are therefore to be found somewhere in APEPT.  It is part of the DNA of all God’s people—in the very fabric of what it means to be ‘church’,” writes Hirsch in “The Forgotten Ways” (Hirsch 2006: 171-177).  This model of leadership incorporates the Biblical concept of the gifts given to the Early Church.  Before getting into this model of leadership, I want to address the character of a Missional Leader because all aspect of this apostolic leadership model is presupposed by the Missional Change Model or by Missional DNA, which requires a certain breed of leader.   


Getting Ready to Lead Missional Change (The Missional Leader: 105-108)


            These skills are a great way to prepare for missional leadership.  They aid in discovering and exploring the skills and capacities required of missional leadership. 


Step One: Take Stock of What You Know

Missional leadership requires by its very nature that the leader be very aware of his or her surroundings and the environment in which the congregation is functioning.  Roxburgh and Romanuk write, “It involves not only knowledge of missional ecclesiology but also the changed situation of the church vis-à-vis the shifts reshaping the social and cultural context of our time.  This is ongoing work that that requires study, discussion, learning, and reflection” (The Missional Leader: 106). 


Step Two: Know Yourself as a Leader

            This stage involves getting to know yourself as a leader in the current moment and how the congregation experiences your leadership.  Direct, honest, clear, and loving feedback is an absolute must for all leaders.  Most leaders go through their entire ministries never getting this important performance feedback, and if they do it is on very rare occasions.  Roxburgh and Romanuk note, “Lack of performance feedback is a powerful limiting factor in being able to identify the new skills and capacities needed to develop a missional congregation or missional capacity for yourself” (The Missional Leader: 106).  It is important to be receiving this feedback from those with whom you work and from among those whom you are pastoring.  It is key that they evaluate your leadership from several dimensions.


Step Three: Listen

            Romanuk and Roxburgh offer this advice in this step, “Rather than immediately seeking solutions to fix areas needing leadership development, we ask leaders to spend time actively listening to trusted friends, colleagues, and mentors to ask them a series of questions” (The Missional Leader: 107).  They write that listening takes a lot of time and a lot of energy to be disciplined enough to hold off on jumping to solutions or fixes to your lacking areas of leadership.  They continue on to say, “Listening is about willingness to go deeper into the questions of how people perceive and experience your leadership, to develop a clearer sense of the key areas for change and development” (The Missional Leader: 107). 


Step Four: Focus on Key Areas and Issues

            Only towards the end of the third step can a leader hone in on the specifics of his leadership capacities and begin to develop those he needs to have a missional mindset and leadership model. 


Step Five: Develop an Action Plan

            “Once the key areas have been indentified, leaders need to design a clear, intentional learning path to develop the identified skills over a twelve-month period.  The includes several elements, such as identifying the kind of training required, where the training can be gotten, how it will be done within the leader’s schedule, when the training will take place, and who else might need to be involved,” write Romanuk and Roxburgh (The Missional Leader: 108).  The process that The Missional Leader implements is one that does not focus on strengths, but upon weaknesses.  As leaders we need to address unfamiliar habits, skills, and capacities that we have been afraid to address.  This introspective approach to leadership evaluation takes a lot of bravery and courage!  Leaders also need to formulate a plan that will require them to identify specific areas where they are actively engaged with new skills, so that they can entrench themselves into these new skills and formulate them as tools in their toolbox.


Step Six: Commit

            The leader must then commit to being on top of his game!  It is a journey without a destination as the writers of the Missional Leader put it (The Missional Leader: 108).  The leader must always take stock of himself.  Romanuk and Roxburgh write, “In discontinuous change, there is an ongoing need to keep getting clear, hard-hitting feedback from trustworthy mentors and colleagues” (The Missional Leader: 108).


The Identity and Character of a Leader (The Missional Leader: 126-141)


            A leader’s personal character is paramount to the missional church and to the apostolic leadership model!  Personal character can be summed up as self-identity, which refers to the leader’s nature, character, and behavior in the context of the congregation and its maturing and growing. 


            Missional leadership is primarily focused first on the individual leader’s growth, spiritual formation, and well-grounded foundation in Christ.  Romanuk and Roxburgh write, “Leaders either form or deform the emergence of the Spirit’s work among God’s people” (The Missional Leader: 126).  This is very important!  It is absolutely necessary that the leader be well-grounded, personally transformed by Christ’s blood, deified by the work of the Holy Spirit via Deification, and led from deep waters.  A leader must feel trusted by their people.  Being a leader in the context of Missiology requires a lot of maturity and character!  Leaders must base their lives around their values and beliefs and live those out, embodying them for themselves and the congregation.  Romanuk and Roxburgh write, “Character is a matter of personal habits, skills, and behaviors that engender confidence and credibility.  It also involves a leader’s motivation, values, and sense of life purpose.  Character requires self-knowledge and clear evidence that Jesus Christ is the center of the leader’s life, meaning, and call.  Character is the place where one’s deep hunger, personal identity, and calling merge to generate the confidence that allows people to trust a leader and agree to journey together in a new direction.  Such character is observed in four personal qualities: maturity, conflict management, personal courage, and trustworthiness and trusting” (The Missional Leader: 127).


Personal Maturity

            Missional imagination cultivated in an environment of God’s people requires a self-aware, authentic, and present leader who understands the realities and concerns of those he leads.  A missional leader is personally mature has these three ingredients: being present to oneself and others, being authentic, and is being self-aware.


Conflict Management

            Missional transformation is by nature going to put a leader into a very tension-filled aura filled with high-conflict.  The leader must be able to place the conflict within the confines of the changing environment and foster it in a very healthy way and not avoid it.  The leader must engage conflict so that the people will ask themselves questions about what God is doing among them as a faith community.  Engaging conflict helps all the community to think differently, name the conflict they are experiencing, and to find solutions to the conflict. 


Personal Courage

            “Missional leadership is not for the faint-hearted.  It takes courage to do the right thing when it is neither easy nor comfortable and to accept the personal consequences of leading people out of familiar habits and patterns toward an alternative future,” write Romanuk and Roxburgh (The Missional Leader: 137).  Being a missional leader means one has to have the courage to stand up to public pressure, sacrifice popularity, and make tough decisions.  Romanuk and Roxburgh continue, “Personal courage is the capacity to go on a long journey in the same direction, even when few seem willing to follow. It means keeping to one’s core values, ideals, and sense of call, even if they have become unpopular” (The Missional Leader: 138).


Trustworthiness and Trusting

            Without trust there is absolutely no way a missional transformation can take place!  In discontinuous change there is always a sense of insecurity.  If the leader does not have the trust of the people and the people the trust of the leader then there can be no missional change in difficult times.  One way to build this trust is to show that there is coherence between character and action.  Right beliefs and right thinking leads to right actions!  If there is disconnect there and those two are coherent and congruent then there is not trust and rightfully so!  This is where an emotional systems approach to your congregation is vital!  But it is even more vital to the leader that he or she have their core values and system in place and that they live and make decisions and perform actions out of those core values and beliefs.  Romanuk and Roxburgh state, “You live from a set of consistent values that do not zig and zag under outside influence.  People experience consistency in your leadership over an extended period of time.  Values and skills combine to give people trust in your leadership.  Trust is built as you demonstrate consistency in values, skills, and actions” (The Missional Leader: 139).


The Team Ministry Model of Leadership: The Servant Leadership Style of Younger Evangelicals (The Younger Evangelicals: 151-153)     


            The servant leadership style of the younger evangelicals, or the Missionals, is one of team ministries.  This is a very grassroots, bottom-up style of leadership.  Now, I think this model is perfect within the confines of your typical elder-led churches or within hierarchal churches that implement the bishop, priest, deacon offices.  Scripture is quite clear about having leaders in the churches who are the authority and shepherds of the church.  Those who want to approach bottom-up leadership that gets rid of the authority God granted to the Apostles, I think, are in error.  


            “The immediate translation of the servant model of younger evangelicals is found in their development of a ‘team ministry’ leadership.  In this model, writes younger evangelical Greg Warner, ‘the goal is to work with the teams to facilitate the ministry of others.’  The trend, he says, is ‘away from staff-led, committee-run hierarchies to team-based ministry, where decision making is dispersed to lay-led ministry teams.’  This ‘team trend promises to return ministry to the people, providing a corrective for staffers who want to hoard power and church members who expect hired staffers to do the work.’” (Webber: 151).  We must come to a focus on this type of leadership that seeks to abolish the CEO-driven models that are based on business models of Corporate America.  The best fit is to keep the teaching authority of bishops, priests, deacons, and elders in place to keep the community in line with Biblical truth and Church teaching and to implement a servant leadership model that allows for the people do perform the ministry of the church too.  Of course it is a presupposition for those in ancient churches that the sacramental duties are still to remain with those properly ordained to carry out those ministries. 


            “In sum, the younger evangelicals are committed to a new form of leadership.  Many younger evangelicals leaders are frustrated with the leadership of both the traditional and the contemporary boomer church.  In the start-up church movement, younger leaders are more free to express themselves in ways that they believe are consistent with biblical principles and the situation of the church living in a postmodern culture.  The rejection of business models of the church and the embrace of an ‘every member ministry’ working together in team ministry under a commitment to servant leadership is a new kind of leadership for the twenty-first century,” writes Robert Webber (Webber: 153).  It is precisely this type of leadership that we find within the confines of the APEST Apostolic Leadership Model. 


The APEST Apostolic Leadership Model


            The mission behind the APEST model is to find out where each person in the congregation is on this model of leadership or if which members of the congregation has gifts in one of these areas and possesses leadership abilities.  Hirsch remarks that one person could have one of many of these or a combination of the gifts.  Our goal is to cultivate a sense of communal leadership around this model that the congregation is empowered to practice their gifts and be the Church.  This model is more about ministry than leadership. All have a ministry and gift.  This model, I believe, utilizes the entire congregation’s gifts and ministries.  This model gives ministry back to the people and most importantly it does not lend itself to making the priest, pastor, senior minister, or whatever title he has a Super Pastor!  It allows for him to be first and foremost a cultivator of the missional transformation, a cultivator in the congregation that helps the people discern what God is seeking to do in them and their context. 


            APEST is meant to be, and to operate as, a system: a system within the living system that makes up the church. The whole Ephesians 4 text is rich in organic images and perspectives (body, ligaments, head, etc.). Christian ministry is never meant to be onefold or twofold, but fivefold and each leadership style is strengthened and informed by the particular contributions of the others (The Forgotten Ways: 171).


Just as the various systems in the human body work together to sustain and enhance life, so too in all living systems the various elements in the system interrelate and serve to augment each other. When each component operates at peak and harmonizes with the other components, the whole system is enhanced and benefits. So it is with APEST. When all are present and interrelated in an effective way, the body of Christ will operate at peak. To use Paul’s terms in Ephesians 4, it “grows,” “matures,” “builds itself up,” and “reaches unity in the faith” (The Forgotten Ways: 172). 


In living systems theory, moving an organization into adaptive organic mode requires that we:

a.Develop and enhance relationships


b.Cross-pollinate ideas from different specialties and departments


c.Disturb equilibrium by moving to the edge of chaos


d.Focus information according to organizational mission


Developing a fully functioning APEST system in a local church, mission agency, or denomination will go a long way toward achieving these ends. APEST, if well led and directed, can operate in a very invigorating way.  Bottom-up approach to APEST creates a healthy learning system. This system allows for those at the bottom to be heard and involved (The Forgotten Ways: 174).


Developing a fully functioning APEST system in a local church, mission agency, or denomination will go a long way toward achieving these ends.  APEST, if well led and directed, can operate in a very invigorating way.  Bottom-up approach to APEST creates a healthy learning system. This system allows for those at the bottom to be heard and involved.


The Leadership Team: Apostolic Team, Prophetic, Evangelism Team, Shepherding (Pastoral) Team, and Teaching Team:

a)      The Apostolic Team: Strategic Issues, Church Planting, Networking the Movement.




b)      The Prophetic Team: Advocacy, Social Justice, Prayer and Intercession.


c)      The Evangelism Team: Evangelistic Services, Street Outreach, Alpha Courses.


d)     The Shepherding (Pastoral) Team: Cell Groups, Pastoral Care, Worship


e)      The Teaching Team: Development of Material, Teaching Courses, Sermons.


A Breakdown Explanation of APEST (From The Forgotten Ways Website)


“APOSTLES extend the gospel. As the ‘sent ones,’ they ensure that the faith is transmitted from one context to another and from one generation to the next. They are always thinking about the future, bridging barriers, establishing the church in new contexts, developing leaders, networking trans-locally. Yes, if you focus solely on initiating new ideas and rapid expansion, you can leave people and organizations wounded. The shepherding and teaching functions are needed to ensure people are cared for rather than simply used.”


“PROPHETS know God’s will. They are particularly attuned to God and his truth for today. They bring correction and challenge the dominant assumptions we inherit from the culture. They insist that the community obey what God has commanded. They question the status quo. Without the other types of leaders in place, prophets can become belligerent activists or, paradoxically, disengage from the imperfection of reality and become other-worldly.”


“EVANGELISTS recruit. These infectious communicators of the gospel message recruit others to the cause. They call for a personal response to God’s redemption in Christ, and also draw believers to engage the wider mission, growing the church. Evangelists can be so focused on reaching those outside the church that maturing and strengthening those inside is neglected.”


“SHEPHERDS nurture and protect. Caregivers of the community, they focus on the protection and spiritual maturity of God’s flock, cultivating a loving and spiritually mature network of relationships, making and developing disciples. Shepherds can value stability to the detriment of the mission. They may also foster an unhealthy dependence between the church and themselves.”


“TEACHERS understand and explain. Communicators of God’s truth and wisdom, they help others remain biblically grounded to better discern God’s will, guiding others toward wisdom, helping the community remain faithful to Christ’s word, and constructing a transferable doctrine. Without the input of the other functions, teachers can fall into dogmatism or dry intellectualism. They may fail to see the personal or missional aspects of the church’s ministry.”


We see that the missional leader is to lead with servant leadership.  We see here a very healthy and biblical model for leadership in our churches today that we must discover and implement.  I want to close by offering what Frost and Hirsch have to write about this new leadership, “A renewed focus on leadership is absolutely essential to the renewal and growth of the church…This issue of the development of a new kind of leadership is possibly the single most important question of strategy in this decade, and whether the church responds correctly or not will determine to some extent its survival as a viable expression of the Gospel in the years to come” (The Shaping of Things to Come: 165). 



Primary Resources

Frost, Michael, and Alan Hirsch. The Shaping of Things to Come. Peabody, Massachusetts:          Hendrikson Publishing, .

Hirsch, Alan . “What is APEST? .” The Forgotten Ways. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr 2012.            <http:></http:>.


Hirsch, Alan. The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church. Grand Rapids : Brazos      Press, 2006.


Roxburgh, Alan, and Fred Romanuk. The Missional Leader: Equipping Your Church to Reach a  Changing World. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2006.

Webber, Robert. The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World. Grand       Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2002.



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