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Are You Leading A Monument Or A Movement?

By Jon Hietbrink

It’s relatively easy to see “flash in the pain” success, but it’s another thing entirely to lead a movement that sustains growth over time. As APE leaders we have a unique role to play in both leading change within existing systems and helping our movements “surf the edge of chaos” in a way that propels enduring momentum, and one of the key pitfalls we must avoid is allowing our movements to become monuments—slowly decaying symbols of past success, but absent of the intrinsic vitality we see in living things.

One of the key functions of apostolic leadership goes beyond merely interpersonal to systemic influence— we cultivate environments where movements can thrive and combat the temptations of monument. Here’s a few warning signs that monument thinking is taking root and organizational recalibration is needed.

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Three Ways to Engage with Ferguson

By Jon Hietbrink and Howie Meloch

It’s been more than a week since Michael Brown’s tragic death at the hands of police in St. Louis and in the midst of the continuing escalation of violence on the streets of Ferguson, it’s still hard to know how to engage. For some of us, his killing has (again) ripped open a wound laced with incredibly painful memories of personal and systemic racism—“How can this keep happening?!” For others of us, the shooting and its aftermath have provided a window into an experience that feels hard to understand.

There are many (some of whom are linked below) who have written deeply thoughtful and intelligent reflections in the wake of Michael Brown’s death—calls to action and advocacy, response and repentance. We don’t presume to have much to add to what’s already been said, but as we’ve prayed, mourned, and engaged during this difficult week, we wanted to share three brief thoughts for those of us who might feel paralyzed by uncertainty, unsure of how to engage at all in a situation that is so volatile and so painful for so many. Though there is of course much more that needs to be said and done in the wake of this tragedy, here are three humble first steps modeled on the life of Nehemiah that we hope might be an “onramp” for those of us looking for meaningful engagement around this painful situation.

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Ferguson Links and Resources

In the midst of the tragic circumstances unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri, we believe it’s critically important that we listen intentionally to the voices of our brothers and sisters of color and allow their perspectives to influence our own.

Of course, there are many articles being written about what’s unfolding, and here are a few that we’ve found helpful over the last week—voices we’ve sought (and needed) to listen to.

  1. An interview with John Perkins (founder of the Christian Community Development Association)
  2. An article about the contextual factors that are in play in Ferguson
  3. An article exploring black rage in response to police brutality:  (GRAPHIC)
  4. Five ways churches must respond
  5. An article written in response to the killing of Trayvon Martin, but still applicable today
  6. Some thoughts on responding as a white person
  7. A post on the need for Asian (and other non-black folks) to engage with these issues
  8. A sermon from Brenda Salter-McNeil on “Faith+Works=Life”

In addition, here’s some folks we’ve been following on Twitter to help ensure we are listening well to a diversity of voices:

  • @druhart — Anabaptist scholar
  • @cscleve — Social Psychologist
  • @blackvoices — Huffington Post Black Voices
  • @antoniofrench — Local Alderman in St. Louis
  • @trymainelee — Journalist

We will love to keep updating these lists–who are you listening to that we could include?

Five-Fold Partnership: What Apostles Need

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By Jon Hietbrink

If indeed God gives us the five-fold gifts to play a “symphony, not a solo”, then it’s critically important that we understand both the unique role that each of the five gifts play (differentiation) AND how that gift interfaces with each of the other four (integration) to create a rich kingdom harmony. Perhaps more clearly than with any other gift list in the New Testament, we can see how the five-fold gifting of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds, and Teachers are designed to work interdependently as a beautiful all-channel system given by God to develop the body of Christ into maturity.

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Church Planting: Are You Starting In The Wrong Place?

View IVCF Central Region Scouting 2012 in a full screen map

By Jon Hietbrink

We are starting in the wrong place.

Most of our ministry priorities are built on an assumption that we should focus on what exists and grow what we’ve got. We invest in leaders, engage more people, and whole fieldconstruct our network, all in an attempt to build Kingdom influence in the communities we’re trying to reach. The paradigm looks something like this.

It’s a simple enough proposition and has often borne significant fruit; the problem is that it’s wrong.

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The Five-Fold Symphony: How the Gifts Work Together

By Jon Hietbrink

God gives us gifts to play a symphony, not a solo.

Every significant discussion of spiritual gifts[1] in the New Testament is situated in the context of a complex system—we are “one body with many parts” designed to operate in symbiotic harmony with one another. The problem is that the way we’re taught to understand and express our spiritual giftedness can often be a very individualized and siloed experience—we’re taught to understand our personal gifts, but we’re left to wonder how those gifts actually work together in the way God intended.

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How To Identify An Apostolic Leader

many things may be blooming in your ministry, but apostolic leaders will lead you to the edge to get those next few buds.

Ministry may be blooming, but apostolic leaders are focused on the edge; where things haven’t blossomed yet.

[Also check out "How to Identify and Evangelist in Your Ministry"]

By Jon Hietbrink

For most of my life in the church, “apostle” has been something of a dirty word.

Either because it’s assumed to be an expired gift, or because we’ve so often seen it abused, most of us (even those of us who are gifted as apostolic leaders!) struggle with the idea of calling something “apostolic” and have difficulty finding the right language to identify this gift in its emerging forms. Toward that end, here are five key indicators that might evidence an apostolic gift at work in you or your community, and some reflection questions to help you identify the emerging apostolic leaders in your midst!

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Take The Training Wheels Off!

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By Jon Hietbrink

In my last post, I shared about how we, as aspiring movement leaders, must seek to lead our ministries on, but not over, the “edge of chaos” and almost nothing highlights this tension more acutely than how we handle the people we lead. True movement is impossible without all-play empowerment, and this kind of mobilization hinges on our willingness to both trust and entrust those we lead.

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Surfing the Edge of Chaos: Catching the Wave of Movements

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By Jon Hietbrink

We can’t lead movements the same way we lead organizations.

Many organizations run like machines–they thrive on alignment, order, discipline, and consistency, but movements are like organisms–they feed on change, complexity, empowerment, and freedom. Mechanical organizations can be directed by insightful strategic planning, consistent management and disciplined execution, but it’s debatable whether organic movements can be led at all–like a swelling ocean wave, movements are something we catch, not something we create. So the question becomes, “How do we lead in such a way that we’ll be ready to catch the wave when it comes?”

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