Simplifying the Five-Fold Ministry
Updated: May 26, 2019
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A common question…
A question I often receive in leadership when discussing the five-fold ministry is, “does everyone fit into the five-fold ministry?” The typical thought process, I would dare say, is no. However, God has been revealing to me that just because you may not be a “prophet,” does not necessarily negate spiritual preference. I believe the five-fold ministry is best looked at as a Christian, Kingdom-building preference. How do you prefer to build God’s Kingdom?
In marketing, the first thing you do is identify your target audience. Once you have identified your segment, you start to gather data on what they want or need. As an example, if I decide that I want to sell ties, what do I do to market this item? I would first identify who is going to wear ties. I then would identify what they want and need in a tie. That is simple marketing 101 for you. Honestly, if you think about anything you are trying to accomplish, the steps are not too much different. If I were to ask you a couple simple questions, I could likely tell you what five-fold ministry you lean toward. You may be a business-man, a sound-guy, a teenager in school or a run-away; no matter what you are, you have a Kingdom building preference.
Ephesians 4:11-16 [ESV]
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Key words to notice: equip, building-up, unity of faith, knowledge of the son, mature, fullness of Christ, no longer be children, grow-up, equipped, working properly, body grow, builds itself up
The five-fold ministry is simply a Kingdom building preference.
At your core, who do you want to reach, above anything else? (identify your target)
1. The World – the lost, the broken and the prodigal
2. The Flock – church, the sheep and the new-found believers
3. God – His presence, His truth, His time
4. The New Believer – un-taught, un-instructed and young in the Lord
5. The Established Believer – secure leadership, pastors, elders and church leadership
6. Myself – need to grow before working on others
Most people would agree that one of these, at their core, is who they care the most about. You may wonder, “well this is five-fold ministry and you listed six.” The sixth option is for the new believer who is not yet established enough to understand his/her spiritual Kingdom building preference. If you have never thought about which of these groups you care the most about, perhaps it is time. God has called us to order and these targeted audiences fit the five-fold ministry. The second question is just as important.
At your core, what do you want most in your walk with Christ? (identify targeted audiences need)
1. For the unsaved to discover the truth of how amazing Jesus is
2. For the church to find rest and comfort in God’s presence, to counsel and comfort those working on their walk with God
3. For time with God. His will always. His instruction guides my life. His glory and power revered by His people always.
4. For Christians to understand the Gospel. For people to discover their callings and help guide them and equip them to get there.
5. For Christian leadership to move to the next level and avoid stagnancy. To travel about preaching and teaching God’s truth to different bodies across the globe.
6. For God to continually teach me and guide me to understand His will for myself.
We will review each number and what it represented at the end of the article.
Before we continue, please understand that I am not saying that the five-fold ministry is your title. Titles come and go with need. God has given you a specific heart and desire when it comes to Kingdom building. Also, we are all human. You may relate to an area in the five-fold but feel slightly condemned because you don’t have the same passion I am typing about. Imagine yourself radical and in a good place with God. Is this what you’d be like? Do not feel bad about not measuring up to my solicited best-case Kingdom builder. I will be reviewing the five-fold ministry: prophet, pastor, teacher, evangelist and apostle. I will discuss in each ministry: what they see, what they want and their target audience.
What they see – God’s Heart
Prophets are perhaps the most intriguing of the five-fold ministry to me. Maybe because it is the ministry I am personally least familiar with. I have prophets all around me, but I am not always able to relate with them. They see things in the spirit. A true Prophet will see things and discern things of the spirit quickly and accurately. They will be able to understand the intention and motive behind an action because God speaks to them so clearly. They see the way actions and choices will hurt or excite God. They align their emotions with God’s emotions and their hearts with God’s heart. They see what God wants and hear what God wants to say. Prophets are called to intimacy with God. They can spend hours with God and be in His presence without even hesitating.
What they want – Time with God
Prophets want what God wants. They want God’s voice to be heard. They want God’s will to unfold. They want revival. They want God’s people to make the right choices. Think of Nathan in the Old Testament with David. David, a Godly man, made some mistakes with Bathsheeba. Nathan gave David the prophetic word of how he had offended God. David immediately repented. In a prophet’s mind, that is how it should always be. Prophets are not trying to attack anyone – but they often understand God’s heart far better than most. Prophets want to spend as much time with God as possible so they can discern His will and His heart in any given situation.
Target audience – God
This, to me, is the most vital separation of anyone else in the five-fold ministry. Their target is God. Obviously, they give God’s words to His people (Old Testament to Israel and New Testament to God’s newly grafted children), whether a good word or a bad word. But beyond that, whether they are giving a word to God’s people or not – they are continually seeking God. At least, they should be. A prophet who isn’t continually in God’s presence can sometimes find themselves “off” spiritually.
What they see – Needs of the Flock
Pastors are in love with the flock, they are also called “shepherd.” So, what they see is the flock (the body) and they share God’s heart for His people. Pastors are called to counsel, edify, exhort, convict and ultimately, protect the body of Christ. David, a great example of a shepherd was constantly protecting his sheep. Pastors are warriors who can be gentle. They are in a unique position because they are supposed to shepherd as Christ did – which is hard to emulate. Christ was the ultimate shepherd and pastor. Christ had no sin or wrongdoing. Pastors are just people trying to give everything they have to the flock. Please, understand that just because someone is called “pastor” does not mean they are perfect.
What they want - Safety
Pastors want what is best for the body. At times, to a fault. Have you heard of the seeker-friendly movement? Essentially pastors overcompensated the flock and damaged God’s will. I personally identify strongly with pastors. We love people. We love the body. We love being united. We love teamwork. We love when everyone is happy and enjoying their Christian walk. But, the truth is, pastors cannot bend the rules to make the flock happy. God is still in ultimate authority. We want God and Christians to connect. We want the body to be encouraged and satisfied in God’s green pasture. Pastors just want safety for their flock, which means they remain in the pasture.
Target audience – The Flock
Pastors targeted audience is the flock. Typically pastors are the counselor, preacher and teacher. At the end of the day, pastors just want to spend time and give time to their flock. Pastors can also show tendencies to the world or lost – but typically, a pastor feels most called to the flock God has given him/her. After all, they aren’t called a shepherd for no reason.
What they see – Christians in Need
Teachers see a need. They see a learning gap. They see where young and immature Christians may need some guidance. Teachers see knowledge. Teachers see resources. Teachers are always teaching and seeing areas to teach. Whether young or old in the Lord, they will find a way to still be a teacher in some capacity. Teachers see where someone is struggling with a decision. They see where someone is supposed to go, but needs help getting there. In summary, teachers see Christians in need of guidance.
What they want –Opportunities to Help
Teachers want nothing more than to teach, mentor, instruct and then to be surpassed by a young pupil. When I reference young, I do not mean in age but in the Lord. If you have a teacher or mentor in your life and they do not wish for you to surpass them, I question their motives. Teachers want the best for their students. They want their student to learn, adapt, make the right choice and be challenged to grow. Teachers are not called to clean-up the mess, they are called to teach someone how to clean up their mess and how to avoid making the mess in the future. Teachers are needed, without them we’d never develop beyond much more than an immature Christian who (maybe) knows the Bible. Teachers are just searching for opportunities to use their knowledge, wisdom and experience to help younger Christians.
Target audience – Young Believers
Teachers hope to find understudies. Teachers can desire to teach a class of thirty or the casual coffee meeting with one. Either way, teachers are continuously searching for someone to take under their wing. Teachers need to be wise, knowledgeable and mature. At times, you get an experienced veteran teacher who takes on more mature pupils and understudies. However, this is dependent upon need and position. Typically, a more mature Christian is serving in a leadership role, and their mentor is someone in their specific area of calling. Teachers need to continually mentor the next up-and-coming teacher. My favorite saying for the past year has been, “success with no successor is a failure.”
What they see – The Broken
Evangelists are called to the world. The world is broken. Evangelists are passionate about Christ and what He accomplished on the cross. The Gospel is at the forefront of their minds. A true evangelist doesn’t need to go out on a Saturday to proclaim the Gospel because they do it 24/7. However, someone who is an evangelist is passionate about bring the Gospel to the lost.
What they want – Salvation for all
Evangelists want others to know about Jesus and what He did for them. They want everyone to know Christ. They have a burning desire to tell everyone around them about just how good Jesus is. Evangelists want opportunity and ears to hear. They want to visit the hurt. They want to give food to the homeless. They will take any opportunity they can to give of themselves and make others experience a glimpse of Christ’s love. A true evangelist is selfless. Nothing is off-limits, from their shoes to the shirt off of their back.
Target audience – The World
Whether the world means the homeless or the broken person sitting in the church. They care about those who are struggling and in desperate need of a touch from Christ. They want their family, co-workers, friends and neighbors to know about their faith. They will pursue giving food to the homeless and helping the widow. Essentially, anyone that is a non-Christian or a baby Christian struggling to get fully-connected.
What they see – Opportunity for Growth
Apostles see the world through their God lens. The world is theirs because it is God’s. Apostles do not allow themselves to be tied down due to finances or jobs. They see an opportunity for God’s bride. A true apostle will be revered and sought after by churches around the globe. Apostles see how to help Christian leaders and churches grow and move from one level to the next. Paul is the best example of someone walking in the Apostolic (I’m not here to debate if modern-day apostles are a thing) anointing. He traveled. He wrote different churches edifying or convicting letters. He brought the gospel to the world. They see the world as a playground. They understand God’s truth and are ready to plant seeds everywhere they go.
What they want – Churches to grow
Apostles want to plant churches. Apostles want to travel and preach God’s truth. Apostles want opportunity to bring God’s truth to Christian leadership (pastors, elders, deacons, etc.). Apostles want God’s will to pour out in all the nations. They are called to be the ones who “go out”. Apostles want to do anything they can to help leaders and churches grow.
Target audience – God’s Bride
What I mean by the entire church is God’s true church. Every brother or sister on the globe. They want to travel and minister to different churches bringing edifying prophetic words. Apostles want to speak directly into leadership. Apostles want to mentor anyone with a high call. Their vision is second to God alone. They see God’s big picture and envision ways of accomplishing it through God’s grace. Apostles desire to reach and teach God’s bride.
Five-fold number chart:
The World – the lost, the broken and the prodigal
For the unsaved to discover the truth of how amazing Jesus is
The Flock – church, the sheep and the new-found believers
For the church to find rest and comfort in God’s presence, to counsel and comfort those working on their walk with God
God – His presence, His truth, His time
For time with God. His will always. His instruction guides my life. His glory and power revered by His people always
The New Believer – un-taught, un-instructed and young in the Lord
For Christians to understand the Gospel. For people to discover their callings and help guide them and equip them to get there
The Established Believer – secure leadership, pastors, elders and church leadership
For churches to move to the next level and avoid stagnancy. To travel, preaching and teaching God’s truth to different bodies and leaders across the globe
Myself – need to grow before working on others
For God to continually teach me and guide me to understand His will for myself