When referring to what is commonly known as ‘fivefold ministry’, Ephesians 4 tells us that Jesus “ascended on high he led a host of captives and he gave gifts to men… And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and the teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ.”
Whilst this passage is referring to people, the offices and what they bring are key for churches. If Jesus, the head of the church, identified specific fivefold ministry examples the church needs then it follows that healthy and mature churches must exhibit all five cultures indicated in this passage, whether our church has fivefold ministers based in it or not. After all, the very job description of fivefold ministry is to train the people to ‘do the stuff’ themselves. To help us, my definitions of these fivefold cultures are:
Apostle means ‘sent one’. Being sent must mean there is a) a sender, b) a ‘sendee’, c) a purpose for being sent, and d) a place or people to be sent to. So an apostle is ‘someone sent somewhere, by someone, to do something.’ Not everyone is, therefore, an apostle, but everyone is meant to be apostolic – meaning, they have a purpose, and people or place to impact with that purpose.
Knowing our apostolic purpose is key to discovering our mission. We can define the apostolic ministry as ‘influencing and transforming the world your church is in – locally, regionally or globally – with the values of Heaven’. This fivefold culture provokes us to impact the world around us with kingdom values so that it is transformed for the better. It stops the church from being irrelevant or detached from society.
We can define the prophetic ministry as ‘connecting people to the Presence of God so they see, hear and feel Him for themselves’. It reveals the heart of God through words and actions. It is not just about judgment because God is a God of Love. It is also about his kindness – which leads us to repentance – and His mercy, grace, and goodness. The prophetic presents God for who He is, not who we or others think He is.
We can define the evangelistic ministry as ‘revealing King Jesus to those who don’t know Him, through words, works and wonders’. Evangelist means ‘herald’ and in the same way that heralds would go before an incoming king, announcing to all who would hear the King’s achievements and greatness, believers are meant to perform the same role. It is more than preaching – but it does involve preaching!
We can define the pastoral ministry as ‘cultivating Kingdom character and community through coaching, counseling, and care’. Pastor means ‘shepherd’, so pastoring involves watching, herding and tending to the sheep. It means being mindful of their needs and fears, whilst doing what is best for them even if they do not understand it. It is much more than just reacting to expressions of desire. Biblical pastoring ultimately seeks to empower people to grow in maturity as a disciple of Christ.
We can define the teaching ministry as ‘communicating biblical truth through teaching and training to see transformation’. Preaching in services is just one expression of the teaching office – training and teaching in smaller settings are also valid expressions. Closely working alongside the pastoral office, the goal of teaching is not education or information, but revelation and transformation.
Each fivefold ministry is essential for any healthy, mature church. How is your church in each of them? Are you strong in some, and weak in others? Consider contacting me to take a church fivefold assessment to discover where you are, and what you can do to develop each of these five key areas.
My Strategic Planning process uses targeted questions geared towards the discovery and analysis of recognisable fruit from each fivefold ministry. It will present your church with scoring for each of the following questions:
- Are we impacting the world?
- Are we helping people experience God?
- Are we presenting Jesus to those who don’t know Him?
- Are we caring for the people of God?
- Are we training people in the truth?
The answers to these questions are much more nuanced than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The Assessment will not only score your church but also provide observations and a recommended strategic plan to take each individual fivefold culture to the next level. Download a Sample Strategic Plan here, which includes an example Church Spiritual Health Assessment check.