Five Reasons Why *5Q* by Alan Hirsch is a Need-to-Read Book

NOTE: The beginning section of this review is cross-posted on the Amazon site for 5Q: Reactivating the Original Intelligence and Capacity of the Body of Christ, by Alan Hirsch (2017; published by 5Q).

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I know it’s not normal to write a review before finishing the book. However, in this rare case of Alan Hirsch’s *5Q*, I am. That’s because I’ve read enough to know that I WILL finish it, because the first quarter of the book (preface, intro, and first two chapters) provided more than enough threshold details for me to recommend specifically why I believe you should read it, too.

In a nutshell: I am convinced from a combination of constructive and destructive experiences in 40-plus years working with non-profits, church plants, and social change activism that applying paradigm systems theory is essential to successful, sustainable transformation. And, the way I see it, *5Q* provides a conceptual framework for identifying deficiencies in our system compared to the revealed ideal, and a set of practical skills and tools for filling in gaps and filing off excesses in our systems.

This means 5Q can drive both context-based intervention when things have gone toxic, and prevention of problems in our start-up and sustainability efforts. So, 5Q is valuable to those working in situations that focus on Kingdom embodiment and personal discipleship: churches, church plants, social transformation endeavors, community development, missional impact metrics, and spiritual abuse survivor advocacy.

For those not yet acquainted with the core concepts of 5Q, here’s the kernel of the system. Ephesians 4:11-13 specifies a fivefold structure of giftedness in the Body of Christ. Using the acronym of APEST, these are: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds, and Teachers. The APEST giftings are meant to work together. Christ manifests all five and they are key to the Church universal’s genetic code. As with any genetic aberrations, a deficiency or duplication of any fivefold chromosomal element can lead to chronic illnesses, sterility, or even premature death of a body.

*5Q* is an intermediate introduction to Alan’s lifetime work in missional ministry. In it, he presents (1) the revelational and incarnational bases for the APEST typology as the Body of Christ’s genetic system, (2) practical outworkings of the system for individuals and organizations, and (3) solutions for addressing related problems. Additional component trainings and tools are available from “5Qcentral,” making this a robust, holistic system for context-sensitive ministry movements.

Here are my five observations from the first 25% of the book that convinced me to read the rest. I hope you’ll find reasons to read it in these as well! Continue reading

MissionShift and Paradigm Shifts

Summary: Charles Van Engen’s essay in the recently released book, MissionShift, overviews the series of paradigm shifts in the meaning of “mission” through Western church history. He also gives some perspective for why transformation of missiology is needed, and what a more holistic statement of mission could look like. It wasn’t necessarily part of his opportunity or role to share much about the how-to’s of paradigm shifting. Yet I see that as being THE crucial topic for our moving beyond the influences and mistakes of the past toward a stronger and more holistic impact in the future.

And the subject of paradigm shifting is where I thought I could offer a critique and contribution to the discussion that doesn’t duplicate what others are emphasizing. I don’t believe our answer to the dilemmas of mission will be found in reconfiguring our missiology or even our larger theology. I argue that epistemology – how we process and organize information – dictates our theology. So, if we’re going to succeed in implementing a holistic paradigm shift, it’s got to be first and foremost at the even deeper level of epistemology.

I’m passionate about cultural interpretation, contextualization, futurist strategies, and organizational systems design and development. I’ve spent much of the past decade trying to figure out how to profile paradigms from the bottom up, and assist Christian groups in creating the constructive dynamics needed to undergo a paradigm shift to either become or remain a viable, sustainable organization. I’ve been in on mostly “epic fails,” but also a few modest successes. I hope my practitioner perspectives on holistic mission and what’s been missing, plus some of the why, how, and who of paradigm shifting, will prove helpful.

Continue reading