Book Review – Alan Hirsh & Tim Catchim’s “The Permanent Revolution: Apostolic Imagination and Practice for the 21st Century Church”

When I experienced the divine call to preach my pastor at that time asked me which of the five-fold gifts listed in the Ephesians 4 passage did I believe the Lord was leading me?  At that time, I told my pastor, “I believe the Lord has called me to preach and teach His Word.”  I continue to believe this is true of my calling.  However, my eyes are being opened to greater possibilities of how my calling might unfold.  Alan Hirsh and Tim Catchim’s “The Permanent Revolution: Apostolic Imagination and Practice for the 21st Century Church” provides a fresh look at the Ephesians 4 passage and promotes apostolic, missional ministry which includes each of the five-fold gifts (APEST = Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, and Teacher).  When all five of the gifts are operational within the church the church will naturally operate as God designed it because the church is a living organism.  If the church does not have all of the gifts operational within the church the church will not be missional.  According to Hirsh and Catchim the church has limited herself to the use of primarily two gifts: shepherd and teacher.  I was encouraged by the book and gained a better understanding of apostolic ministry.  They offered two diagrams which helped support their purpose in writing the book.  The first provides a practical team model for the church utilizing the five-fold gifts (see page 86) and the second provides an operational flow chart or framework for creating an “Apostolic Environment” (see page 115).  What I have gleaned most is a fresh understanding that the Lord is at work building the church and he has provided the church with everything she needs in order to grow spiritually and numerically/evangelistically.  However, if what the Lord has given is not put into place and utilized growth will be hindered.  Previously, I had been taught apostolic ministry ceased with the coming of the Holy Spirit.  The premise of this false teaching was that one of the requirements to replace Judas Iscariot was that the apostle had to have been with Jesus.  On the surface this appears plausible but with further research the replacement of Judas was within a certain context.  It is not accurate to jump from the Lukan account to the Pauline passage in Ephesians and conclude there is no longer a need for the gift of an apostle.  Hirsh and Catchim cite two Biblical examples of apostolic ministry which was enlightening.  Peter was a catalyst apostle and was not sent to the mission field but rather was sent to help the community of believers by helping them reflect, discover, and fulfill the mission within the community.  On the other hand, Paul was definitely one sent to the mission field and he was a catalyst for church growth.  We must have people with the gift of apostle (as well as the other gifts) on our ministry team to be effective.

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