Five Fold Ministry
There is something new in Christiandom which is called the 5 Fold Ministry.
This is a singular expression, rather than plural such as 5 Fold Ministries. Both phrases refer to the ministry giftings of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. However, there seem to be some very big misconceptions among those who believe in the Five Fold Ministry (singular.)
I have heard some people say that they were called to the "5 fold ministry" and there would be a little bit of swagger in the tone of their voice, and yet these were people who were still in Bible school. I wondered how anyone could be so confident that they walked in all five giftings. Actually, I had never heard of anyone who did walk fully in all five ministry giftings of prophet, teacher, evangelist, pastor and apostle.
And, I didn't understand why it wasn't good enough to "just" be a pastor or "just" be a teacher. Apparently this was something new; only the best were called to have all five ministries at one time. This seemed to be a new kind of spiritual superman. Or superwoman.
Actually, I had never heard the phrase 5 Fold Ministry before. Who started it? And who came up with the idea that it was a package deal all folded into one? I think you can see that I was not impressed. In fact, I was turned off.
I decided that people must not understand the depth or richness of what they were called to, or what it would take to get there. The definitions of the 5 Fold Ministries (plural) must have been greatly diluted, if people thought it was possible for one person to be all things to all men. And, to be able to buy it with two or three years of schooling!
Ministry of Apostle: Five Fold Package?
Not only do people think that the 5 fold ministry is a package deal, there is prevalent teaching that an apostle is one who operates in all five of the ministry gifts. Therefore, it is theoretically the highest calling.
However, the scripture reference to the ministry gifts in Ephesians 4:11 gives no indication that one ministry gift is greater than the others or that one ministry gift is the consummation of the others. Ephesians 4:11 simply states that there are five ministry gifts and all are necessary for the perfecting of the saints.
In 1 Timothy 2:7, the apostle Paul stated that he had the gifts of evangelist, apostle and teacher. Therefore, the apostle Paul only acknowledged three of the five gifts in his own ministry. Paul was an apostle, but only claimed to have three of five. So, according to the "new" definition of an apostle, Paul was not an apostle! This is an interesting conflict.
Eliminating Checks And Balances
The new definition of apostle seems to be somewhat pretentious and unfounded. I have seen flyers and pamphlets that make much ado over the Apostle of the ministry. And the sign outside the construction site of their new sanctuary says, "Building the Next Great Church."
Besides pride, I have wondered if there is another motivation for the idea that an apostle is a combination of all five ministry gifts.
I suspect that many leaders want to be recognized as an apostlebecause if all the leadership gifts are combined into one man, then the panel advisory board of prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher and apostle is no longer necessary. The apostle fills all roles, so the other "four" ministries are no longer needed or essential.
Therefore, the consummate apostle does not have to be accountable to anyone else. Under the new definition, an apostle would only have to answer to himself because he is the 5 Fold Ministry all rolled up into one neat package. This eliminates the competition. He does not have to answer to other leaders of the Ministry because he is the one and only leader of the ministry and in himself, he meets the requirements for God's plan of leadership. Or so he thinks.
The tragedy in this conclusion is that we also eliminate the God-given system of checks and balances within the church. By absorbing all ministry gifts unto himself, the consummate Apostle often attempts to stifle the voice of justice (prophet), the voice of the wise man (teacher), the voice of the peacemaker (evangelist) and the voice of the shepherd (pastor.) I have seen Senior Pastors who do not show respect for the giftings in their pastoral staff and do not recognize their value as part of the leadership team. Senior pastors should be cultivating the 5 Fold Ministries (plural) in others, instead of absorbing all of it to themselves.
If a Christian leader styles himself to be an apostle under this new definition, it is quite possible that he might be making an effort to avoid the advisors that God has given him (or her.)
Deception, Kings and Modern Church Leadership
In all of this we can see the five sins of Eve: first, deception (which sets himself apart from God's plan for the Church), then pride, desire, and taking control... and finally, disobedience by stifling the other ministries of the church and hindering the work of the Spirit.
The five fold ministries (plural) are intended to be a leadership style which eliminates the danger of inherent in kings.
God does not want kings in his kingdom. He wants leaders who are accountable to one another. He wants five leadership ministries for each fold. He wants at least five men with distinctively different ministry gifts to oversee the needs of His Church. If one man eliminates the other ministries and hinders them from working, then the Church will suffer for it. We need the influence of all the ministries within the church.
If your church is led by a king instead of a five fold ministries, then there is cause for concern. The Church of the Lord Jesus needs to return to a realistic and Biblical understanding of the five ministry gifts.
Actually, I don't know of any modern church that has a five fold ministries style of leadership. At least, not intentionally. But if this was God's plan, then why aren't we making more of an effort to make sure that the church is well stocked with people who walk in these spiritual giftings? Have we taken inventory recently? Is each one in their place fulfilling their calling or do we have some vacant places in the leadership team of the Church? This is something to think about.
Apostles Must be Confirmed by Other Apostles
The new definition of an Apostle seems to weaken the role immensely. Almost anyone can qualify if they go through seminary and start doing the work of the five fold ministries. But doing the work of the ministry and having the anointing of the ministry are two different things. Anointing comes only in the Spirit, and must be confirmed by the witness of the Spirit of God in others. A man may declare himself to be an apostle but he must be confirmed as an apostle when the Spirit witnesses to this in others, and when there is genuine evidence of such a ministry in his life.
It is impossible for a man to declare himself an apostle... other apostles must confirm it. The apostle Paul was confirmed, acknowledged, and accepted by the other apostles after there was considerable evidence to show the truth of it. Paul knew that he was called to this long before it was actually confirmed. He began to do the work of the ministry in obedience to God's call, which then showed evidence of anointing and was eventually confirmed by the other apostles.
All my life I have watched one Charismatic leader after another lose his ministry or suffer through a severe split or scandal that was directly due to his own selfishness. These leaders were abusive to their people. There are many ways to be abusive. Some leaders were controlling and refused to listen to counsel from anyone around them. Some leaders were hard taskmasters, driving their people but giving them little reward or encouragement to sustain them. Some leaders walked in pride and arrogance whereas others walked in total selfishness. They always got their own way. They always took the seat of honor. They took the best for themselves. Some were outright liars. Others were more subtle in their manipulations. In every instance, the leader was building something for himself instead of God. Why do I know this? Because eventually the abuses took their toll and were revealed for what they really were. Things fell apart, in one way or other.
How did these leaders get away with it for so long? They made promises. They taught us that if we were obedient and submissive, God would bless us no matter how our leaders acted. They told us that the way to keep the church in balance was to obey and pray. If we did this, then God would bless the ministry and everything would turn out ok.
However, there was devious manipulation and deception in this teaching. I can testify that obedience and submission to erroneous teaching did not work. Instead, everything "hit the fan" eventually and the entire ministry came under reckoning. The leader usually suffered most of all. However, I never saw a leader suffer enough to repent. He usually continued on as he always had, starting over from the ashes and the ministry (if it continued) was greatly diminished after that. The leader did not seem to learn very much from what had happened.
Why Does God Allow Abusive Leadership?
If you have puzzled over a situation, wondering why God has allowed some leaders to behave as they do, just wait. It may take awhile-- it may take years. But those who walk in selfishness do receive their reward. I do not wish this judgment on anyone. I think that repentance is far more productive than justice. But, it is a relief for the soul when God finally reveals Himself as God. He knows how to make things right.
Psalm 37:1-11 1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. And He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off; but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
Proverbs 24:19-20 Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked; For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.
What is the example of Christ?
Jesus did not own great houses. The Word says He did not even have a place to call his own. He did not ride on the finest horse or donkey, he walked. He did not keep all power unto Himself. Even before His fulfillment on the cross and His resurrection, Jesus gave power to his young disciples so they were able to minister healing and deliverance to others. When they came home ecstatic about their success in ministry, Jesus cautioned the disciples about pride, and told them that the only thing to glory in was the fact that their names were written in the Book of Life.
I think that the Church has a misconception of the value of one. The value of one person has been reversed from what God intended. We have looked inward to find value, but Jesus wants us to look outward. The Church has been introspective in it's goals. We have built the value of one person upward to the top like a pyramid, offering glory to the one who is the head of the organization, whereas Christ set the example by showing that the value of one progresses downward to the bottom and outward to the world.
This is the true focus of evangelism: God is not willing that any one should be lost. God puts incredible value on the lamb that is missing from the fold.
Does the Church need a change in Focus?
The churches that I have been part of during the past 20 years have defined a new kind of legalism. In order to be involved at these church, even in volunteer activities or volunteer leadership, people are required to be at all church services and at least one prayer meeting. The appropriate standard of spirituality is constant attendance and involvement. As a result, the churches are bustling with activity. But, the people who attend these churches have no time for their families or for friendship evangelism. They are always at the church, and the children are always in a classroom.
I wonder if the priorities of the Christian Church have gone awry. The churches believe that their focus is evangelism and so there is much activity for this purpose. However, I have started to wonder about this. What is the first and primary ministry of the Church? I think that in the New Testament it was for fellowship among the believers, in order to strengthen and encourage one another.
What is real fellowship? One thing it isnot: fellowship cannot happen in a place where there is a stage and a microphone and a scheduled program. Fellowship is not a spectator sport. It is an interactive "sport" and it happens in small groups, not in rooms that are crowded with hundreds of people.
Jesusí command to all the believers was to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. It seems that the responsibility for evangelism is for all individual believers. I think that the Church should be equipping the believers for evangelism rather than taking over the job for them.
I worked at a church for several years. Because of this I was at the church constantly. And, even though I have always loved church and I wanted to be there, I started to wonder what the rest of the world was like. There was no way I could even find out! I did not have the time to develop friendships with neighbors or take a secular class. I simply could not take the time to mingle with the world.
Eventually I quit my job and dropped out of all church activities. During that time I made some good friendships at the local flea market and became very involved with friendship evangelism. I met people whose lives were devastated by sickness, death, and overwhelming financial difficulty. These people welcomed my prayers and depended on them. Mingling with people outside the church felt more healthy and natural to me than all the programs that I had nurtured at the church.
Time to Decentralize
It seems that the Church has centralized itself and is forming institutions with a full schedule of programs. Perhaps things would change if church members were encouraged to attend services only once a week, and were also taught how to scatter into the community and make friends with people who need the love of the Lord.
I do not believe that any Church should focus on evangelism as itís ministry. The Church needs to be balanced in all areas of the 5 fold ministries:
Opportunities all Around Us: the World is Hurting!
If those descriptions are accurate, it is possible that the Five Fold Ministries are not functioning properly in our generation. It appears that the Church has taken over the ministry of evangelism, when actually the congregation should assume the responsibility for this ministry. The Evangelists go into all the world and this is what the congregation does in all their jobs and activities. They should be ministering as they go, wherever they go.
Salt and light are dispersed: they are not gathered into one place. We should not be trying to net people into our organization through promotions, pamphlets, flyers, and promises. Instead, the people in the congregation should be actively developing relationships with the people that God puts in front of us. However, it does not occur to us to do that because we are so busy doing the work of the Lord at the church. I think that this too is a deception. We have utterly neglected the evangelism opportunities that are in our immediate vicinity, and we donít even realize. We are too preoccupied to notice.
"Decentralize" is the key word. If we will reverse our order of thinking, I believe that many things will shake loose in the spiritual realms. Actually, I rather suspect that all hell will break loose, and I am saying that in the most realistic sense. If we reverse our current order of thinking I believe that satan and his forces will be very upset with us. Theyíve got us cornered where they want us right now. Theyíve penned us in and given us toys to play with so we actually think that weíre being busy for the Lord. However, all our programs can never substitute what it means to talk with people face to face and minister the love of God to those who need it. The world is hurting beyond belief, YET all those who wear the gospel of peace are sitting in church. We need to get those shoes moving!
Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
The Church is an Example of Family
The demands that the church places upon the congregation make it difficult for families to be families. They have no time left for it. The Church should also be a family, and should set an example as family.
A family does not exist to nurture the father and make him prosper and make him look good. Everyone who raises children knows that a statement such as that is ridiculous... even if it was a theory, it simply does not work. Children are demanding and they donít even know that they are demanding. Every good parent is a servant to their children because that is what it takes to raise them and tend to their needs.
The father works for the prospering of his family... he wears the helmet of salvation as the spiritual leader of his family. The ministries of teacher, prophet, pastor also exist within the family. But, who are the evangelists? The evangelists are the children, because children broadcast to the world what their parents are really like. If you have children, there is no hiding who you are. It shows in your kids. Wise parents learn that is necessary to set a good example so their children will be good evangelists.
Go Ye Into All the World
Perhaps the churches need to have the same order as families do. Church leaders in this generation seem to believe that the congregation exists for the benefit of their own ministry. However, if the Church of the Lord wants to present an example of a healthy family, then we must decentralize and stop trying to make daddy look good. This is an unhealthy and unnatural direction for the church. We are not called to promote one manís ministry. In fact, we will destroy our pastors by feeding their ego and arrogance in this manner.
If we truly love our pastors and our church, we should stop attending church every day of the week! We should stop volunteering all our free time. Instead, the congregation should go into our communities and love the hurting. We need to put on our walking shoes and take the gospel of peace as far as we can go. I think it is time to get out of the pew, out of the church and get moving.
The 5 Fold Ministry does not need to be absorbed into one singular man: the 5 Fold Ministries need to be dispersed to the entire congregation and scattered to the world. This puts an incredible responsibility on us as believers to grow in faith and holiness so that we can be an example to the world.
Parts are from the GLORY AND THE ARMOR BOOK on the web,
for the whole book goto