Continuing an occasional series of technical posts:
‘APEST’ refers to an understanding of personality profile as a combination of five impulses—apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, shepherding, and teaching—that interact with the personality profiles of everyone else towards five corresponding functions of human community, culture or society: innovation, agitation/reform, promotion/recruiting, care, and instruction.
The five ‘Marks of Mission’ have been adopted by Anglicans (and, indeed, a number of other church traditions since) as expressing ‘the Anglican Communion’s common commitment to, and understanding of, God’s holistic and integral mission.’ The five marks of mission are:
1. to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
2. to teach, baptise and nurture new believers
3. to respond to human need by loving service
4. to transform unjust structures in society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
5. to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
Here are some reflections on the interplay between APEST and the Five Marks of Mission.
The five Marks of Mission are not (in my opinion) an organising principle; but they are the evidence of a healthy outworking of unity and diversity in the body of Christ. All five people-gifts—apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers—get to play in each mark of mission; but it may be that different gifts are best suited to help the church by giving a lead in different areas.
The first mark is clearly evangelistic, and here the evangelists might take a lead, but need apostles to open up new frontiers; and, in fact, all the others get to join in.
In the second mark, the teachers might take an obvious lead, supported by the shepherds in a nurturing role. Nonetheless, all the others must be involved, because without them, the mark is incomplete, its ‘outcome’ partial or distorted.
The third mark calls for the shepherds to lead us; but needs the insight of the prophets, and, yet again, the others to join in, not abdicating responsibility for care by outsourcing it to the shepherds alone.
In the fourth mark, the prophets might lead us in engaging social in/justice; supported by the shepherds in order that we move beyond speaking out against injustice to the work of reconciliation. But, yet again, it will take the whole body working together to see true and lasting transformation.
The fifth mark points to an apostolic lead, supported by teachers who might systematise and help embed our learning to live in a new way. The apostolic impulse is concerned with environment and the ‘architecture’ of our lives. Immature expressions of apostolic gifting have pioneered the cultural changes that have been so devastatingly detrimental to the natural environment over the past 100 years (with massive acceleration over the past 30 years). Conversely (perhaps ironically; perhaps, correcting an irony), mature expressions of apostolic gifting will pioneer the cultural changes that are now needed to address this global crisis. Nonetheless, within the church, thinking about apostolic calling remains largely unapplied to safeguarding the integrity of creation: this needs to change.
Essentially, APEST is not a different structure for thinking about mission, one that is ‘other’ or outside from an Anglican perspective; but, rather, healthy APEST diversity-in-unity is essential to the five Marks of Mission becoming a lived experience.