Earlier this week, I was engaged in delivering some APEST teaching for a cohort of Anglican clergy in Durham Diocese (and as I am a member of the Durham clergy, they are my regional colleagues). In preparation, they had taken Alan Hirsch’s APEST profile test. One of the observations was that, in a room that represented a diversity of tradition, age, gender, and length of ministry experience, there were several Traditional Catholic colleagues who all came out as ES (Primary gift: Evangelist; Secondary gift: Shepherd).
This didn’t surprise me, though it took some unpacking for me to articulate why. My observation is that our own tradition shapes us for the nurture of particular gifts, as well as how they are expressed. So, for example, a conservative evangelical context will nurture Teachers, because ‘right teaching’ is of central importance. My observation of the Trad. Cath. tradition is that for generation on generation, they have gone to communities that live with multiple indices of deprivation; and, while not pretending that the challenges aren’t real, insist that such communities are deserving of and indeed in real need of beauty. Trad. Cath. ritual, with its colours and smells and processions and dressing up and candles and statues and ta-dah! is good news writ large for all the senses. And if we come from a very different tradition, that would express good news in a very different way, we might not even see it. And then, of course, they live alongside these communities and care for those who present themselves in need, of food or conversation or help in coming before God to give thanks for the birth of a child. Of course such a tradition produces ES’s.
As for me, I had been thinking that the Church of England is relatively weak at communicating good news. But whenever I teach, I learn. And on this occasion what I learned was my need to repent of my earlier assessment and believe something new.