Everyone talks about how there is no division between the secular and the sacred – but do we really believe that, and if we do, how does it change the way we act?  Everyone talks about how we believe in the priesthood of every believer but do we really believe that?  Everyone says it’s all about making disciples – but do we know what they really look like?  We are using new language – but continuing in old applications – even in our missional conversations.

When you talk about “apostolic” or leadership in the 5-fold (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher) it’s tied primarily to ecclesiology and positions in ministry.  Not long ago I heard several “missional” church planting guys (primarily house but not exclusively) talk about “apostolic” and to them the “apostolic” was seen in guys who planted a lot of churches.  It sounded real spiritual and transformational – “Apostolic leaders plant communities of faith in the city to engage and serve.”

Unless we release the “apostolic” beyond church planting – and hang on – the church framework, we will never see a move of God

And I mean all forms of the church, simple, house, organic, included.  For a government to work, for a business to make a profit, for a hospital to work – you name it – it requires those 5 “practices” or functions if you will, in it’s own unique context.

God’s grid for engaging the world is found in the city, not the church.  It’s the disciple and the city, not the preacher/planter and the church.  The church is the gathering of disciples that are equipped and strategically deployed to engage the world/city/society for transformation.  We teach our church planters the concept of “domains” which is found in human resource and urban studies.  Domains are the infrastructure that a city is built on:  education, governance, economics, health, agriculture, communication, art, civil society, etc.,  Sadly, most start churches to hopefully engage the city – I believe the reverse is even more powerful – engage the city through the infrastructures through disciples, and let the church emerge out of that.

Apostolic Bankers, Doctors & Diplomats
I have a friend who is an international banker who loves Jesus.  For years, as a banker not a church planter, not a pastor type (even though he’s led a significant house church movement) he sees the functions of the 5-fold as relevant for kingdom business.

All 5 of those roles are critical in his eyes for the function of a business – and specifically his international banks.  He even keeps his eyes open not for people to fill the “positions” but operate in the “functions” of the 5-fold.  Let me be clear, I don’t mean in the groups he gathers at the banks, I mean how he literally operates the business.  It always winds up leading to church planting – but the order is reversed.  Once again – he’s not a preacher, not a church planter, not “in the ministry” – he’s a businessman.  Think of the impact of how that would transform our cities and literally redefine church planting – it’s profound.  It also would utilize the entire body of Christ, not just those called to lead “church planting” movements.

There is a man in our church who is using that same principle as he is putting together a unique kind of clinic – he has a background in hospitals – which will care for people with diabetes and other health issues.  There will be counselors, health professionals, and even “cell leaders” that will be present to minister to people and multiply communities of faith from that.

I have another friend that is a diplomat from one country in another country – through engaging in his “domain” of government he’s wound up planting “churches” in his house in his different assignments from his state department around the world.  He also gets 5-fold and sees it as critical in governance as those with vision, those who hear God, those who are evangelist, those who nurture, and those who educate.

These things are all happening without the “church” and often in spite of it.  They are the church – but even in our most organic thinking we don’t think of “faith” spread out over the city in every domain of 5-fold and execution.  How would a 5-fold view impact people in government, education, art, and all the other domains?  How would it redefine who and how churches were planted?

Get out of the way Pastor
I was sharing the concept of domain engagement in cities and the world recently with a large group of pastors, then showed how the 5-fold impacted how it led to movements and their health.  A pastor asked, “This is radically different from what we are used to – how do we ever transition our churches to do this?”  I told him, your church isn’t the challenge – your members are long and waiting to be released, the biggest challenge in this is the pastor – pastors and even some who talk movements don’t want to let go and release.

We teach our planters and disciples at NorthWood the concept of Kingdom / Disciple / Society / Church.  It has to start with the Gospel of the Kingdom, not the Gospel of Salvation – it has to see all things, not just individual and personal salvation.  It moves to the disciple.  The grid the disciple operates on is the society/city in the domains.  Finally, the church emerges or is present as the city is engaged, but the key has to be the lowest common denominator- which is the disciple, and the grid has to be the city if there is to be movement and/or transformation.

November 1-2 Alan Hirsch is going to give us the theology of this on the first, the second the practice of it will be shared by global movement leaders both in “church” and “business” – come join us and go deep with this.  For more information

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Bob Roberts

Bob Roberts

Bob is the founder, senior leader, and chief spokesman for . His primary focus is to connect leaders and estabish relationships to explore transformation. Follow Bob on Twitter at @bobrobertsjr.