SO, Day 2 (12.15) of Refresh has been engaging, provocative, and encouraging. During Morning Prayer this morning (in the Church of the Resurrection Covenant Chapel–the original worship space of the Church of the Resurrection) Rev. Bob Beckwith, UGA Wesley Foundation Director, led us through a reading of Psalm 23 interspersed with times of intentional prayer and music.
The morning session began around 10am with Laura Story & her band leading us in worship with the songs: Marvelous Light, Lead Me to the Cross, In Christ Alone, Mighty to Save, & I Love You Lord.
Keynote Speaker Alan Hirsch, author of Forgotten Ways & Untamed and church visionary, spoke on Ephesians 4 and the 5 different roles of leadership & ministry in verse 11: Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, & Teachers. A major focus of Hirsch’s presentation, using the acronym “APEST” to denote the 5 functions, was on how the church has lost the “APE”–Apostles, Prophets, & Evangelists. Hirsch, an avid researcher of movements in global and historical Christianity, asserts that many of the large problems and the decline of mainline churches in America/the West are a result of the current ecclesial (church) structures that contribute to a loss of the emphasis & importance of the APE–especially of the focus of ordination to the role of shepherd (pastor) and the role of teacher (theologian). He posits that this lack of recognition and function in the Western church, and especially the UMC, is a direct result of this loss of the NT understanding of the nature (and mission) of the church (ecclesiology). He noted that many people who do or do not fit the accepted norms of a denomination’s expectation for ministers (especially APE’s in light of the emphasis on ST’s) have left the Mainline protestant churches resulting in either a “churchless mission” or a “missionless church.”
Hirsch further described these 5 roles and also explained their sociological dimensions/functions:
Apostle–systematic designer/entrepreneurial/environment making;
Prophet–ask the right questions & question the status quo;
Evangelist–recruits/draws people in, likes sales/marketing/packaging;
Shepherd–knits people together causing cohesion & humanizes the efforts;
Teacher–helps bring about wisdom & understanding.
He explored the difficulties of the modern church and talked in some detail about the divisiveness of the laity/clergy divide–citing specifically the ills it can cause in the church. Hirsch also spoke of the need for leaders in each of these 5 areas of ministry and gave examples of how most of us would express one of the five functions as primary, secondary, etc and how knowing our own expressions of these roles might help us to be better in ministry.
After lunch (Chick-fil-a sponsored by Wesley Theological Seminary) there were two workshop sessions including further conversations with Alan Hirsch (which proved quite fruitful) and a variety of other options including “How to run a prayer room,” “Servant Evangelism,” “Sabbath Keeping,” and more.
Overall, another excellent day filled with hopeful-critical moments for engaging in prayer, conversation, worship, and reflection on how God is at work in our lives, our ministries, our campuses, our denomination, and our world.