I’ve had the privilege of walking with Neil Cole and his cohorts (Phil Helfer, Ed Waken, Dezi Baker, and Paul Kaak) in varying degrees over the last 15 years. I’ve been an “insider” to the learning that has fleshed itself out into the work Primal Fire. Keen attention to the APEST (apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, shepherding, teaching) gifts has been part of my experience with the CMA movement throughout. (http://CMAResources.org). This is the best articulation of a true APEST team that I’ve experienced on the planet.
Many in mission circles are talking about the need for this APEST community of leaders, but hardly anyone really has that kind of community. What Cole and friends express in Primal Fire is the real deal. It is not merely theory, but theology, theory, principles, practice, victories and pains through real life and ministry. It is a treasure to have this snapshot as captured in Primal Fire.
A word of warning: Don’t merely flip to the chapter on your favorite or perceived gift (chapters 9-13) and read about what an apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd or teacher does. I was tempted to do that, but if you do (or maybe when) make sure to take the time to engage with the first 8 chapters of the book! If you don’t, you will be missing some VERY important foundations from the whole of the New Testament. Most importantly, you’ll skip a tremendous exegesis and exposure of Ephesians chapter 4 (which Cole appropriately dubs the “Magna Carta” of the church [primarily chapters 5-8]).
In those foundational first eight chapters, you’ll be challenged in your theology and your practice. For instance, Cole draws out that church leadership isn’t merely to servant-hood, but to truly be servants. And beyond that leadership in Jesus’ church and hierarchy have no place together! Into church practices, elders and deacons are addressed thoroughly. In fact, a revolutionary biblical proposal on deacons will have you chewing through the Scriptures again.
In the portions of the book that expose and articulate the five APEST gifts that Jesus gave (chapters 9-13), I believe that the authors’ hope is that these pages in Primal Fire will affirm what Jesus has given and will draw together fully functional APEST teams. In fact, as I finished this book (the first time), I left it with a missionary team in Chad (Africa) with the hopes that they would be able to capitalize on these insights to fuel a burgeoning church-planting movement there.
Since this is Jesus’ idea and His gifts for the maturing of the Body, I whole-heartedly encourage you to chew on the content of Primal Fire for the greater multiplication of disciples, leaders, churches and movements all over our globe.