You value your church and the work that it’s doing in the world. Maybe you’d even like to play more of a role herein. However, you’re uncertain what your role is. Here is where the fivefold ministry is essential.
Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
~ Ephesians 4:13
As the church, we should want to have a Biblical understanding of the various roles here. These roles play an essential part in entering into the fullness Christ has for the church. They include the role of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and teachers. When the people called to serve in these roles start taking their rightful places as humble servants, we’ll see the church brought into maturity. It’ll also help our church grow in ways that we used to think were impossible.
In Ephesians 4:11-16, we read about Paul creating a structure for the church. In doing so, he established the various roles that are now known as the fivefold ministry. Each of these roles plays an essential role in building and enhancing the body of Christ in different ways.
But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.
And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken?
When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
~ Deuteronomy 18:20-22
This person has “a direct line to God.” They see what’s happening and what the future holds because God has chosen to share it with them. Once they’re obedient to God in sharing these things with the church, the Scriptures instruct us to have three witnesses who judge it before it’s accepted (2 Corinthians 13:1).
Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
~ 1 Timothy 3:1-7
In the church, there is the pastor. They’re there to act as the “burden bearer” – the team’s ox. They’re willing to step aside and allow others to speak while still maintaining the integrity of Christ’s body. At the same time, the church’s complete authority belongs to them.
When it comes time for the pastor to preach, it should be effortless for them to tune into the Spirit of God. They’ll then share what the Holy Spirit places on their heart. When someone receives a message in tongues and interpretation during the pastor’s sermon they must wait their turn before sharing it. It’s up to the pastor to call the person forward to speak.
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
~ Acts 8:4
Today we may think of an evangelist as a “modern day church planter.” These are the people who are on fire for the Lord. Everywhere they go, they share the Gospel and help people turn their lives over to Christ, so there’s a need for a church in that area.
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
~ 1 Corinthians 12:28
The teacher can take words and put them together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This skill is one that the pastor or evangelist can’t do as well as this person.
While some people may think that the Holy Ghost is their teacher, this isn’t Biblical. The Bible clearly states that God established the role of the teacher. The Holy Ghost then leads these teachers to help us better understand God’s Word.
The material teachers present must align with God’s Word (1 John 4:1-6). We’re commanded to ensure that what we learn from these teachers.
And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
~ Matthew 10:1-2
The Greek meaning of the word “apostle” is literally “one who’s sent on a mission.” Their mission is to go out and preach the Gospel and thus set things in order. One of the most common types of apostles in the church today is the missionary.
Now that you understand what the fivefold ministry is, you must also take some time to understand your calling from God. Each of us has an essential role here because when the fivefold ministry gifts come together in unity, there’s a great strength to be found there. (Unfortunately, this is frequently destroyed by jealousy.)
These roles aren’t related to a person’s personality, skills, or physical strengths. They’re a God-given calling and anointing on a person’s life. We’ll form a well-organized apostolic leadership team when we’re intentional about surrounding ourselves with others who have different giftings. This design is how God wants us to function, especially within the ministry of the church.