The Free Methodist Way and A(postle), P(rophet), E(vangelist), S(hepherd), T(eacher)
Superintendent Michael Traylor built on the work of Christopher Noyes (FM Elder in the Ohio Conference) in integrating APEST with the Free Methodist Way. He also created a way forward to use the APEST / FM Way model to evaluate the ministry of the church.
Superintendent Traylor’s work is in Orange.
Five-Fold Free Methodist Way
by Christoper Noyes
The identification and implementation of these gifts isn’t a novel invention. Rather, they were fully embodied in and through Christ from the foundation of creation. Christ Himself was the perfect Apostle – the Sent One. Christ Himself was the perfect Prophet – calling Israel back to faithfulness. Christ Himself was the perfect Evangelist – the embodiment of the Good News. Christ Himself was the perfect Shepherd – who lays down his life for the sheep. Christ Himself was the perfect Teacher – full of grace and truth. And now, Christ has given Himself, in his fullness, to the church to be for the world the body of Christ. We engage in five-fold ministry not for practical reasons like evangelization and discipleship, but ultimately because Christ Himself gave these gifts to the church that we might “come to the unity of the faith… to the measure of the full stature of Christ.”
I believe the Board of Bishops has captured this fullness with their articulation of the Free Methodist Way. What I describe below is a rough sketch of how I see the five-fold ministry of Christ at work in the Free Methodist Way. However, a point of clarification at the outset: Paul says some are given as apostles, some prophets, etc. But all five are present in each of us to a greater or lesser degree. As we mature in Christ, our primary gifts are sharpened, and our weaker gifts are strengthened. Also, within the body, all five are needed for fruitful ministry. In much the same way, all five areas of the FM Way are needed for fruitful ministry. We cannot simply cling to those that are most comfortable to us, to the detriment of the others.
Free Methodist Way/Spiritual Gift Matrix
Superintendent Michael Traylor
- Apostle -> Cross-Cultural Collaboration
- Prophet -> Love-Driven Justice
- Evangelist -> Christ-Compelled Multiplication
- Shepherd -> Life-Giving Holiness
- Teacher -> God-Given Revelation
Cross-Cultural Collaboration – Every church, an apostolic church
In order to faithfully respond to the command of Jesus to disciple all nations, we must cross boundaries and enter into uncomfortable spaces. For many of us, we don’t need to travel outside of our cities, let alone our country, to engage another culture. There are those of us who possess the propensity to take risks, to enter unfamiliar territory, to build bridges.
Cross-cultural collaboration is the context in which our apostles move. Apostles are the visionaries, the risk-takers, bridge-builders with an entrepreneurial spirit. We need those with apostolic gifting to lead us in cross-cultural collaboration, not in the old “conquering” mindset of previous missiological efforts, but with a true sense of shared mission and learning together as we partner in God’s salvific work in our communities.
Apostle (Cross Cultural Collaboration / Apostolic)
PRIMARY PROCESSES: Extending grace beyond every social, cultural, and ethnic affinity to promote unity and demonstrate the love of God to a fearful and fractured world.
PRIMARY TEXTS: John 13:34-35, Gal 3:28, Rev 7:9
- John 13:34-35
- I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
- Gal 3:27-29
- As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
- Rev 7:9-10
- After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10 They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
- Does you church have a desire to engage all people and people groups in its immediate community?
- Does your church reflect the social, cultural and ethnic diversity of your community?
- Is there an intentional strategy to engage those in your community whose culture, class, or ethnicity is not currently represented or under-represented in your church.
Love-Driven Justice – Every church, a prophetic church
Throughout Scripture, the prophets are the ones who most frequently expressed God’s heart for justice. Prophets are truth-tellers. They are justice-minded advocates who often disturb the status quo, but only in an appeal to greater faithfulness. They seek to reorient our lives toward greater love of God and of neighbor.
My sense is that there are prophets in our churches who have frequently been silenced. Their messages often go against the consensus. They may object to a given initiative proposed by church leadership if they sense that it will detract the community from faithfully promoting God’s justice in the world. We need to be on the lookout for these “naysayers” and discern together how God is calling us to deeper faithfulness.
Prophet (Love-Driven Justice / Prophetic approach
PRIMARY PROCESS: Peacemaking (Becoming a Kingdom extending, reconciling communities modeling the shalom of God)
PRIMARY TEXT: Jeremiah 9:23-24
- Jeremiah 9:23-24
- Thus says the Lord: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; 24 but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord.
- Are there intentional means and explicit expectations that each member understands God’s attributes of Love, Justice and Righteousness and our participation in God’s kingdom should reflect these?
- Is the church aware of injustices and suffering locally, regionally, nationally, and globally that has led toward peacemaking.
Christ-Compelled Multiplication – Every church, an evangelizing church
“The Gospel of Jesus Christ – the message He proclaimed, the life He lived, and the ministry He modeled – set into motion a redemptive movement destined to fill the whole earth.” With this powerful statement, the Bishops have made plain that at the core of multiplication is GOOD NEWS. When you’ve found the best of something – whether it’s an amazing restaurant or an engaging television program, you want to tell someone about it. How much more true for the Good News of life in Christ!
We have evangelists in our pews ready to bear witness to what God is doing in the world. They are the carriers of the message – the Good News of the gospel. As we seek to be a movement of disciples who make disciple-makers, we rely on the clear articulation of the message from evangelists. We need them to proclaim the simple message of Jesus in ways that motivate the movement.
Evangelist (Christ-compelled multiplication / Evangelism)
PRIMARY PROCES: Witnesses of the good news (gospel) of Jesus and inviting everyone everywhere into a life-giving relationship with Jesus (Evangelism).
PRIMARY TEXTS: MT 28:18-20, Acts 1:8
- Matt 28:18-20
- Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
- Acts 1:8
- But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth
- Is there new life in the community as indicated by new professions of faith.
- Do members understand the expectation and responsibility to bear witness to the good news of Jesus?
- Are there intentional means of equipping members to proclaim and demonstrate the gospel.
- Does the church have a well-articulated strategy to multiply members, leaders, and itself?
- Have there been specific plans for the church to multiply itself?
- Has a specific commitment been made by the church leadership that includes goals, time, and financial investments.
Life-Giving Holiness – Every church, a shepherding church
This is often where we are most comfortable and most familiar. In the context of APEST, we call this gifting a “shepherd.” While most translations will render it as “pastor,” I don’t want us to confuse this gifting of pastor/shepherd with the title/role that we have come to refer to as “pastor.” I’m sure we can already think of those persons in our congregations who are gifted as shepherds. In the secular world, anyone in the helping professions (nurses, therapists, etc.) are already utilizing this gifting.
As we learn to live into the value of Life-Giving Holiness, we must identify, encourage, and deploy our shepherds for the health and wholeness of our communities. John Wesley famously remarked: “[There is] no holiness but social holiness.” As a good shepherd gathers her sheep, we need those who will hold space for us and connect us one to the other in life-giving community.
Shepherd (Life Giving Holiness / Shepherding)
PRIMARY PROCESS: Discipleship (Developing and equipping fully devoted followers of Jesus)
PRIMARY TEXT: Mt 4:19 NRSV
- Mt 4:19 NRSV
- And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people
- Follow, Transformed (I will make), co-missional
RELATED TEXTL: I Pet 1:15-16
- 1 Peter 1:13-16
- Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. 14 Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. 15 Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
RELATED TEXT: Psalm 119
- Ps 119:37
- Turn my eyes from looking at vanities; give me life in your ways.
RELATED TEXT: I John 4:11-12 NRSV
- 1 John 4:11-12
- Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
- Are there intentional means and explicit expectation to learn the disciplines of Jesus in order to become transformed into Jesus’ likeness which is Holiness.?
- Prayer privately and corporately
- Fellowship with other believers regularly
- Bible reading and application
- Worship including the sacrifices of praise, giving, and time
- Serving others
- Are there intention means of gathering for the purpose of deepening a sense of community?
- Are there examples of life-giving holiness in your congregation? What is evidence of life-giving holiness?
- John Wesley described sanctification as “pure Love”. To what degree are people’s lives marked by love?
God-Given Revelation – Every church, a teaching church
The FM Way is bookended by another familiar role. In fact, if most ordained elders are not truly pastors/shepherds, they are more than likely teachers. Leading a Bible study or preparing and delivering a sermon are the most natural activities for a teacher. It should also be apparent that there is nothing inherently “Christian” about being a teacher. We have all been blessed by those who have taught us either through school, or an apprenticeship, or thoughtful parenting.
Teachers are students of God’s Word. They share wisdom and insight and equip others to hold to the deep truths found in Scripture. While the scriptures are available to all and should be read widely for both devotion and study, disparate interpretations may be drawn from a single passage. The wisdom and care of trusted teachers are invaluable for the discernment of the community.
Teacher (God-given Revelation / Teaching)
PRIMARY PROCESS: Honoring the holy Scriptures as revelation of God, authoritative in all aspects of life.
Primary Text: II Tim 3:16-17
- 2 Tim 3:16-17
- All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.
- Is the reading of Scripture privately and corporately prioritized in the church community?
- Are sermons based upon Holy Scripture?
- Is Scriptural support supplied for the church’s vision, mission, and goals?
- Are there intentional means of equipping members to read, interpret, and apply Scripture?
The church founded by Jesus Christ must always reflect the image of Christ. It is an apostolic church, a prophetic church, an evangelizing church, a shepherding church, and a teaching church. This is the unity that the Apostle Paul encouraged in Ephesus, and this is the unity the Board of Bishops encourages now among all Free Methodists. We must engage in a more collaborative approach to ministry, or risk relegating ourselves to mere survival – to being a church of maintenance rather than a church on mission. We need ALL of Christ’s gifts, and we must engage in ALL aspects of the FM Way. May we identify, empower, and release all of these gifts for the sake of God’s mission.