This book is not for the faint of heart. It is not an easy, quick read.
It can be difficult to wade through. You may need to read a sentence or paragraph, and then re-read it to get the full scope of what Hirsch is saying.
Regardless of the difficulty, the content of this book is vital for individuals and churches to understand.
Hirsch writes, “We have to accept that what has got us to this point in history…will not get us to a viable future,” and, “It is sobering to consider that, as far as we can tell, Christianity is on the decline in every Western setting-including that of North America where the ‘nones’ and the ‘dones’ are now the rapidly increasing aspect of the religious landscape.”
We need to, as Hirsch says, have “soft eyes” in approaching the world and the way we do church. What brought us here won’t bring us there, and something must be done differently.
Throughout the book I was truly taken aback by the bold claims Hirsch makes regarding 5Q. However, I had to give him credit to the fact he truly believes and lives out 5Q and has invested his life in the truth of it. He has taught it in many contexts and the viability of 5Q is something that is difficult to argue against. His boldness and clarity of dedication to 5Q made me want to continue reading and discover what was so overwhelmingly compelling about this symphony. 5Q really is “not a call to something new, but something old” – H. Richard Niebuhr.
When I first read “APEST,” I had no idea what it was. I didn’t understand it. But even as I made it through the introduction and the brief description of APEST, I began to understand where the author was going. I began to see the gaps in the big “C” Church that are missing from the APEST model laid out in Ephesians 4:11-16. It makes sense. Making it through the introduction is just a taste of the whole. It whets your appetite for more. And more is certainly what you get.
I live and work in the church world, but the thing Hirsch lays out is that APEST and 5Q is not just something that belongs inside the church, but is present and active in every part of the world.
There are some parts that I am not fully with Hirsch on, mainly because I have not thought through them long enough. He makes a compelling case, and one that I think all churches should consider moving forward.
One of the most powerful quotes in my opinion is when Hirsch writes: “the church always needs to experience itself as sent (A), the prime agent to God’s ongoing mission in the world. The church should always attend to God and his concerns (P), should always share the story and invite people into living relationship (E), should always maintain and develop healthy community (S), should always be rich in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding (T). All are needed in every time and every place” (loc 931, Kindle). This is a game-changing truth that highlights the necessity of 5Q.
I would highly recommend this book for any and every church leader who feels the tension of “something feels like it’s missing…” in how church is done, who church is reaching, and the call to go into the world and make disciples. This book will change the way you see the world, change the way you see yourself, and change the way you see your church and ministry. It will open your eyes and soften them.
Go. Start by reading Ephesians 4:11-16. Then go read 5Q. Pray the whole way. You won’t regret it.