The 5-fold Minister

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ.” (Eph. 4:11-12)

The Apostle Paul believed in the government of the Kingdom of God as it rested upon the shoulders of Jesus (Isa. 9:6-7). His teaching promoted Jesus alone, as the Head of the Church and “under-shepherds” as gifted leaders, anointed to equip believers in each city or region. So if you were a Christian in a certain city or region in the Apostle Paul’s day, you would be expected to fellowship and become equipped by the 5-fold ministers around you. All the 5-fold ministers were to model a unity of Spirit even as they traveling across regions of the country and the believers were to embrace their gifts according to the measure of Christ’s anointing upon them. 

The Challenge of Kingdom Ministry:

I believe every disciple and every local body of believers need access to the 5-fold ministry in order to mature as spiritually healthy and effective Christians. Today our challenge is training that advances the Kingdom of God. Instead of receiving from all five ministries, we generally find only the leadership of one or two gifts carrying influence in the local body… for instance; the pastor led church, the teaching church or the evangelistic church. These groups might emphasize a balanced message, but they find themselves limited in their ability to release breakthroughs over their city or region. This is because Jesus has given “grace keys” to each of the 5-fold ministers individually and they are designed to equip and release authority in the spiritual realm (Mt. 16:19). Its the “Christ Anointing” that opens doors, breaks yokes and brings down spiritual strongholds over a vicinity. The corporate anointing that advances Kingdom authority has five keys or mantles… apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Any model of Church leadership will suffer when one gift is emphasized over all others.

The Apostle:

An apostle is one chosen and sent with a special commission. The 12 apostles chosen by Jesus were witnesses of the resurrection (Acts 1:15; 4:33), but there were many other true apostles (Acts 14:3-4; Rom. 16:7; 1 Cor. 15:5-7; Gal. 1:1 & 19). The ministry of an apostle includes planting new churches (1 Cor. 9:2; 1 Cor. 3:6), grounding the Church in truth (Col. 1:25), preserving unity in the Body (1 Cor. 3:3-5), laying foundations in the Church (1 Cor 3:10) and setting things in order (Titus 1:5). They are involved in opening spiritual doors and fostering a vision beyond the local congregation (2 Cor. 8), fathering new ministries (2 Tim. 1:6) and releasing unusual demonstrations of breakthrough such as miracles and signs and wonders (2 Cor. 12:12).

The Prophet:

The ministry of the prophet involves being “moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21) in prophetic utterance, which can be:

  1. Predictive (Acts 21:10-11; 11:27-28)
  2. Directive (Acts 13:1-3)
  3. Corrective (Acts 15:22-23 & 27-32)

There is such a thing, however, as a false prophet (1 Jn. 4:1), and so God sets clear guidelines: Prophecies should be time-tested (Acts 11:28) and their words judged by church leadership (1 Cor.14:29). Any prophecy should be confirmed independently (2 Cor. 13:1) and should line up with Scripture, “the sure word of prophecy” (2 Pet. 1:19-21).

The prophet operates best in teamwork with the apostle, like we see in Paul and Silas. A prophet is not just someone with a prophetic anointing, but a recognized ministry to the Body at large. Scripture speaks of three levels of prophecy: the word of prophecy – limited to “strengthening, encouraging and comfort” (1 Cor. 14:3 & 31); the spirit of prophecy on a group (1 Sam. 10:10) and the ministry of the prophet (1 Cor. 12:28-29). All believers are encouraged to move in words of prophecy, but only a prophet should exercise the authority of predictive, directive and corrective prophecy and even then, only within clear protective guidelines.

The Evangelist:

The evangelist sees the harvest. They are ”soul-winners”, who preach good news and extend the influence of God’s Kingdom. This is primarily a stirring and awakening gift, but their unique anointing is in persuading the lost that they need a Savior. The ministry of Philip is a powerful example (Acts 8:5-40). They are co-workers with pastors and extensions of apostolic ministry as ground breakers (2 Tim. 4:5; 1 Thess. 3:2). Although they carry great influence in the harvest fields; because of how they see, they also are helpful in imparting evangelistic training to the Body of Christ over all. The ministry of an evangelist is often very effective in regional impact, deliverance and signs and wonders.

The Pastor:

The pastor is the carrier of cool water, that soothes the soul. Our Greek word for pastor, poimen means “one called to tend sheep or care for flocks” (1 Pet. 5:1-4; Jn. 21:15-17). Its interesting to note that, this word is used only in Ephesians 4:11. Elsewhere in the New Testament, other words are used: “shepherd”, “elder” and “overseer”. A pastor is not simply a leader over a local church, but has a Body-wide expression of ministry. As one of the five-fold ministry, a pastor is more accurately a “pastor of pastors” or a “pastor among elders” beyond the local body. A pastor’s emphasis in ministry is in relational networking. They are nurturing leaders, who offer healing, encouragement and comfort. Following the example of the Chief Shepherd (Jn. 10:1-16), a shepherd’s ministry is to feed (vs 9); protect (vs 12), guide (vs 3-4) and love (vs 15) the sheep.

Just to clarify, an elder is not simply someone older in the faith. The title ”elder” seems to focus on the 5-fold giftings with an emphasis on their functioning role of “shepherds” or ”fathers” to the Body (2 Jn 1; 3 Jn 1). “To the elders among you…Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers…” (1 Pet 5:1-2). 

The Teacher:

A teacher is not just someone who teaches; we are all encouraged to teach (Col. 3:16), but they are the ones who bring a standard of instruction to the Body at large. One such example is the Apostle Paul’s description of Apollos as a ”watering” ministry, for the purpose of stimulating growth (Acts 18:24-28; 1 Cor. 3:2-10). Teachers hold a high value on the accurate and practical ministry of rightly dividing the Word of God. They are establishers and strengtheners and carry a specific anointing for helping people become rooted and grounded in the Truth.

The Pattern Within the Early Church:

“So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed and fasted, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” (Acts 14:23)

We see that the pattern for Church government was to establish 5-fold ministry elders in every community of believers. We never see the language of one elder or the appointment of one superintendent over a people. There was accountability and strength as Christ governed His Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. Notice, the freshly appointed elders were prayed and fasted over and then commended to the Lord in whom they had believed. Christ Jesus carries the authority of His Church and it is our responsibility to listen and trust His governing headship.

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