Where Are We Now?—Part 7

CGGC Executive Director Lance Finley
CGGC Executive Director Lance Finley

I’ve spent several weeks exploring the idea of where we are right now in the CGGC, particularly as we anticipate looking forward into the future and discerning where the Lord wants us to go and what He wants us to do as His people. Some of what I share will be from a broader view – where the CGGC reflects what’s going on across the larger evangelical church in North America. At other times, the sense will be much more specific to the CGGC and where we find ourselves in this critical moment.

We have yet to fully experience the health and vibrancy that results when all five of the gifts or callings in Ephesians 4:11 are recognized, embraced and exercised. In one sense, I almost feel like this shouldn’t have to be said, but then I realize how far we have to go on this front. In recent months we’ve had a congregation leave the CGGC because they believed that recent CGGC interest (Church Advocate articles, blogs, teaching, etc.) in APEST isn’t biblical. I’ve been told numerous times by other leaders that all the emphasis on APEST is just a fad and that it’s making too much out of something that’s more of a secondary issue in scripture. We’ve got a long ways to go to fully embrace what God has for His church!

I was at a worship service recently and was reminded of the need for all the gifts in the most unusual way. During the time of worship through music, it occurred to me that the drummer in the praise band was only using two drums through every song: the bass drum and the snare drum. Why was he using only two drums when a whole set was available? I don’t know. I’m certainly not trying to be critical. It may have been that the drummer was new to the instrument and only able to play the two drums well. Perhaps it was an effort to control the level of sound and not overwhelm the rest of the instruments. It took me a while to notice, but after three or four songs, it was about all I could hear – the alternating beat of the bass drum and snare drum. No cymbals, no toms, and no hi hats. Just the bass drum and the snare drum.

As I watched the drummer that morning, it occurred to me that this is a picture of what most of our churches have been experiencing. The drum set had much greater capacity for sound than just two different drums. The potential was there for more, but it wasn’t being utilized. In a similar way, most of our congregations have been built around the gifts of shepherds and teachers. The potential is there for more: there are apostles, prophets and evangelists; we’ve just failed to recognize and utilize all the gifts. It’s like we’re playing a bass drum and a snare drum while missing out on the cymbals, toms and hi hats. It could be so much richer, so much fuller and so much more of what God intends for His church to be, but we’ve grown accustomed to the sound of just two drums.

If the CGGC is to become all that God is calling us to be, we must come to understand, recognize, embrace and exercise the gifts of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. We’ve failed to live this out in our recent past, but God is calling us to a new day and calling us to live differently than we’ve lived before. May our ears long to hear more than two drums beating! May we learn how to play the drums differently than how we’ve played in the recent past!

Christ’s Peace,

CGGC eNews—Vol. 13, No. 12

2 thoughts on “Where Are We Now?—Part 7

  1. Lance,

    Thanks for this ongoing series to provoke our thoughts and discussions.

    It’s hard for me to imagine a congregation being so turned off by the APEST articles and posts to want to withdraw. What (I think) we need is to have these discussions. If people don’t think we’ve understood Scripture well, fine, let’s talk about it. I long for us to have formats where we talk about the Bible and bring our questions, disagreements etc to it.

    From where I sit, we’ve not been good at having these needed discussions. One can agree, disagree or be indifferent toward an article or post, but we need to be committed to the discussions. And having them together.

    For me, the conversation you are prompting us to is about APEST, but it’s about even more than that. Part of the crossroads we find ourselves at is, do we primarily need ‘better pastors,’ or do we need to empower the entire body of Christ as fully committed disciples of Jesus, missionaries, ministers, ambassadors?

    For me, a big part of the way forward is to tear down the clergy / laity divide and ordain the entire body for full time Christian ministry everywhere we go.

    We need all hands on deck for the mission. All the APEST callings and everyone else to discover the passion and purpose that God has put in their hearts.

    If APEST is true (and I believe that it is) opening up this environment will allow people to discern for themselves what Jesus has given them to do and be.

    So long as we shoehorn everybody with a passion into the singular role of local church pastor, we will have the limitations you speak of in your drummer analogy. People who aren’t called to be shepherds/pastors or teachers will each settle for the ‘jobs’ we currently have or get frustrated and leave.

    Here’s one question I have: are we willing to pay the price in possibly losing attendance numbers )and even congregations in the case you mention) for the mission?

    Lance, I really admire your leadership here. You have informed us that there has already been a cost. And yet your post pushes forward.

    Let’s go…

  2. [First, a side note. Apparently, it worked. Thanks, Mike!]


    I’m distressed to hear of all the static your promotion of APEST has created.

    But, I’m not surprised.

    A call for change always disrupts.

    Think of the Book of Acts. How much anger, even violence, did the simple message of the first apostles, prophets and evangelists create:

    “God so loved the world that He gave his only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

    Opponents of the gospel warned that the men and women who preached that message had turned the world upside down.

    Think of the strong negative reaction to the simple message of John Winebrenner and the first generation of Church of God people. (You highlighted that response in an eNews nearly a year ago. )

    When you and I were in MLI together, Reggie McNeal devoted one of the sessions to managing transitions. We both know how stressful change always is.

    I see APEST in the whole New Testament, from the moment Jesus began to call the first apostles, through His teaching, even in the Sermon on the Mount, on how men and women of the Kingdom can tell true prophets from false prophets,… (Why would Jesus do that if the gift of prophecy would die out?)

    … through the Book of Acts which we traditionally call, The Acts of the APOSTLES.

    The whole of the New Testament oozes APEST. The teaching, certainly, is summarized in the second half of Ephesians 2, but that teaching fills all of the Word.

    The Book of Revelation reminds us that He has “made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father…”

    In Church History, this APEST teaching is part of a powerful movement which traces back as least as far as the 1520s. That movement has always been on the leading edge of change…and, revival, and controversy, for that matter.

    John Winebrenner identified with that movement on the day our movement was formed, in October 1830, when he called for “another great reformation.”

    When you preach APEST, you are joining with the spirit of our movement’s courageous mothers and fathers.

    And, if you stay the course, there will be more trouble, as there was for them.

    But, oh, how the Lord blessed them!

    Be strong and very courageous.

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