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?

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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

Waves of Music

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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Spiritual Courage: Taking Down Goliath

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By Jon Hietbrink

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” — CS Lewis

What we’re trying to do is hard.

Catalyzing new movements of missional communities is complicated, and our job description as leaders is often a mile long: disciple, pray, vision, witness, fundraise, meet, care, decide, communicate, recruit, repeat. To be a leader is to embrace the reality that more will be asked of us than we can give–we choose to make our home in the deep end not because it’s comfortable, but because that’s where Jesus calls us. In the midst of all that we’re asked to shoulder as leaders, one thing surfaces again and again–the indispensable role of simple courage. Leadership is most certainly about vision, strategy, and organizational behavior, but at it’s most fundamental level, leadership is about exercising the courage to look fear in the eyes and defy it by fixing our gaze on Jesus instead.

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Fueling the Fire

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By Jon Hietbrink

As APE leaders operating on the fringes of traditional Christianity, we’re keenly aware of a couple things.

  • First, we’re desperate for authentic spiritual vitality in our lives. We know that to see the Kingdom come in power in unreached places requires far more than giftedness or charisma, it takes the presence of the living God. We yearn for genuine spiritual authority that flows out of who we are; we long to embody the message we proclaim.
  • Second, because we’re operating in the margins, the path we tread is far less worn. Whereas many of us were surrounded by plentiful mentors and models when we were younger, now there are fewer folks we can depend on for the spiritual development we need; it can be lonely on the frontier.

As movement leaders, we must obey Paul’s command to “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” (Rom. 12.11)–we must fuel our own fire.

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Daddy I Really Want to Get out of Here!

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By Jon Hietbrink

“When Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

It wasn’t their first interaction, but it was the definitive one. In the course of an afternoon, Simon went from a fisherman hanging around the fringes of Jesus’ ministry to a fisher of men following his Lord, and this exchange became the fulcrum on which Peter’s life pivoted.  Jesus’ command was simple but ludicrous; Peter’s response was hedged but obedient; the result was abundant but terrifying. Invited into this encounter by Luke, we see far more than an isolated event, but a paradigmatic experience of what it means to follow Jesus: He often asks us to step into deeper water than we are comfortable with, and He does it to show us more of Himself.

Isn’t this “deep water” experience the regular testimony of Jesus’ disciples in the gospels? Consistently engulfed by the destitute, increasingly combatted by the elite, inexplicably commanded to feed thousands, prematurely (it would seem!) sent to proclaim the nearness of the Kingdom, and ultimately entrusted with God’s message of salvation to the ends of the earth, the disciples’ journey of following Jesus was regularly akin to jumping into the deep end of the pool and learning to swim. Being “over their heads” wasn’t an exceptional circumstance, it was relentlessly normal.

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