It was he who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11–12, NET)
Christ has a governing structure for His Body, often called the fivefold ministry made up of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. A few points to highlight God’s idea of this five-fold ministry. The foremost of it all is that God still operates through men and women to build His Church. He uses people to touch other people.
The next idea is that the Church needs more than one ministry gift. We need all these gifts working together. We are often tempted to build our ministry or local churches around the gift of the main minister. However, if all the believers get from a ministry is prophecy or deliverance or evangelistic messages, intercessions etc, they will surely develop spiritual malnutrition. Do not reject any gift. There is a time when each of these ministry offices will be needed in a believer’s maturity.
Another common mistake we have made is to think of these offices as mutually exclusive. A believer can function in one or all of these offices. Paul was not only an Apostle but clearly demonstrated other aspects of the five-fold ministry, including that of a teacher.
God’s original intent was not to build His Church around these ministry offices as the focus. This is a big one. The five fold ministry is to equip the believers for the work of the ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ. The verse above is not saying the five-fold ministry is DIRECTLY for the building up of the Body of Christ, which ultimately it is. Rather, it is for the building up of the saints(believers) who in turn build up the Church. An illustration will help clarify this. Take the office of the prophet for example. As a five-fold office, God’s intention is that the prophet will groom believers in the prophetic ministry and release them for the work of the ministry. That is, after a certain season of time, the believer under that ministry should be able to hear from God as the main minister.
God’s original intention is that these five offices will impart every believer and so getting them fully equipped for ministry. The reverse is rather taking place in many circles. The believers are rather congregating and remain dependent on the ministry for almost their entire life. Every believer should be equipped for ministry, with the five-fold grace impartation, not necessarily to open a church or ministry, but for the work of building the body of Christ. The five-fold minister simply has a high grace from God to operate at a higher dimension so that he or she can impart others.
What God is about to do requires that we return to His original blueprint. We should receive all the ministry gifts He has given us. Assuming we do not need a gift God says we need and has provided is a self-defeating lie we are believing. Believers need to be equipped rather than SOLELY looking up to their pastors or ministers do the ministry work. Remember, ministry work here is not the same as opening a Church. It simply means working to build the Church in any capacity.
Can you list the fivefold ministry offices? From the scripture above, who is supposed to do the work of the ministry, the minister or the saints? What is the role of the minister as distinguished from the saint?
APPLY THE WORD
Find your place in God’s original plan above and get committed!
Ask the Lord to help us follow His blueprint for the five-fold ministry giftings.