There are two things I need to clarify immediately. First, the term "fivefold ministry" will not be found anywhere in the bible. Second, by offering coaching and mentoring on this subject we are not in any way a threat to pastors and their church. I say this up front because I want to put aside any fears you may have about the intent of what we desire to do. Now we can proceed with our explanation of the foundation of this fivefold model.
Let's begin with a definition of the fivefold ministry. I'm going to borrow the definition offered by Colette Toach of Apostolic Movement International. She describes it as follows: "Five appointed leadership positions in the Church, each fulfilling a particular function and flowing in a specific anointing to bring unity and maturity to the body of Christ"
The foundation for the fivefold is based primarily in Ephesians chapter 4. In Ephesians, Paul writes about a mystery and in Ephesians 3:3 explains to us that this mystery is that the Gentiles would be part of the promise. Up until then, as far as the Jews were concerned, the Savior would come only to the Jews. It wasn't until Peter stood and preached and the Holy Spirit came upon the Gentiles that the Jews finally got it.
Paul goes on in Ephesians to give us a full picture of the body of Christ, that included this mystery of the Gentile being included in the body. In Ephesians 4:4-7 he tells us that there is one body and that you, a gentile, are part of that body. He also tells us that not only are you a part of that body but you have a calling within this body, not just a select few. Paul emphasizes in chapter 4 that God is in you, you are in God, there is one body. There is a place for you in the body.
To discover your part in the fivefold take a moment to complete this test.
By the time we get to verses 11-14 we begin to see why it's important for us to understand that we all play a part in the operation of the Church;
"So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 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. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming."
This passage does not use the term "fivefold ministry" but this is what is being referred to by Paul here. Paul goes on to explain that the purpose of all the fivefold is to mature and equip the Church. He also makes it clear that the fivefold ministry is meant to be accomplishing this even today because we obviously have not reached full maturity. Each of the fivefold ministry is meant to be in operation fulfilling verses twelve through fourteen.
I like the analogy of the hand and it's five fingers to help explain the fivefold ministry. Many in the church insist that offices such as the Apostle and Prophet are no longer for today. Well, imagine if the "body" said that it no longer needed the thumb and forefinger. How effective would that hand be? Imagine trying to change our clothes or bathe ourselves without thumbs and forefingers. In the same way that there are five fingers on your hand the Lord has placed five ministry leaders in the Church that help assist the rest of the body. The Lord never meant for Pastors to be the sole leader of the church. Each office has special gifts to enable it to operate effectively as it ministers to the body. Pastors simply are not equipped to operate in all of those gifts.
Having all five fingers (offices) brings balance to the church. The lack of these five offices is one of the reasons there are so many doctrines and why there is as much conflict as there is. It's because there is no balance. If we don't have all five fingers on our hand how can we be expected to care for the rest of the body. Showering and dressing become extremely difficult. I want to also clarify that there are many other ministries in the church but I just want to focus on the five offices of leadership for the sake of what RPM is called to do.
In verses twelve and thirteen of the fourth chapter of Ephesians clarifies the importance of these five offices. Paul explains that ALL of the fivefold are meant to equip and mature the believers. These verses are the starting point, now we need to understand that fulfilling their calling is dependent upon each of the fivefold working together in their strengths. Using my analogy of the hand again, I find it interesting that every single finger of the hand is unique. They each have a different look and function and they need each other for the hand to work effectively.
Each office reflects an aspect of the nature of our Lord Jesus Christ so we can know Him better.
The expanding kingdom and the evolving church.
God has started to restore the fivefold ministry to the church. Circumstances in the world are such that these offices and their gifting is sorely needed in the church if we are to see immediate and lasting impact on the mountains of influence.
I mentioned earlier that many in the church do not accept the fact that the ministry of the Apostle and Prophet are in operation today. And yet, this same crowd has no problem accepting Evangelists and Teachers in the church. If you are in that camp and insist that these two fingers are no longer necessary then why not do away with the hand entirely. After all, what good is a hand with only three fingers. Stop cherry picking which ministries are for today and which are not. Either you believe in all the offices of leadership based on what is written in Ephesians or you don't believe in any of them. Sorry, but you don't get to decide which ones are appropriate and which ones are not.
Many will say that the offices of pastor, teacher and apostle are Old Testament, part of the law, and therefore relevant to the church today. They will also insist that the pastor, evangelist and teacher play a vital role. If that is your position then let me remind you that there were never any Evangelists or pastors in the Old Testament. The Evangelist is introduced in the New Testament. If you do believe that the Evangelist is for today then you better believe that the prophet is for today as well because they were in the Old Testament.
Our position is that God gave the church five offices, not three, to lead the church. He gave all five to lead the other ministries of the church because there are many of them. Without these five leaders in place we are never going to see the church mature. This isn't my opinion, its stated by Paul, right there in scripture.
There is also another reason for the fivefold ministry. Jesus is the only person who ever functioned in all these offices during his time on earth. It was during these times of ministry that people saw and experienced the nature of the Lord. Each time he operated out of a particular office a different aspect of His character was displayed. It should not surprise us that He gave the church these offices as means by which we could experience His complex character. When you see all these offices in action together you get a full picture of what the Son of God is like. Each ministry reflects the nature of the Lord in a different way.
By the way, please don't point to the many large denominations and mega-churches as proof that the church is maturing. Large churches do not automatically mean mature churches. The church has excelled at being "seeker friendly", and filling their seats each week, but has not learned to mature these saints and confirm the calling that God has on their lives. It's great that we excel at attracting new converts, but let's not fail to notice that many are leaving just as quickly because they are not getting what they truly need.
As further proof to make my case for the fivefold let me refer you to Ephesians 2 :19-21;
"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord."
Please note that there was no mention of Apostles in the Old Testament. So it's safe to conclude that Paul was talking about the church in which we exist today. He is teaching the Ephesians, and us today, that the Apostles and Prophets are the foundation of the church, with Jesus as the chief cornerstone of that foundation. With this foundation the church can be properly built to function as it was meant to. Pastors, please don't freak out. There's no need to start a turf war here (don't bother sending me any nasty emails or rebukes). After all, you are part of the fivefold and your role will not be diminished by accepting the reality that God is restoring the fivefold at this time.
Using the analogy of building a house or an office building, would you ever consider building your house or building directly on soil? We all know what heavy rains can do to soil or sand. By building on soil our house would shift and crack and in some cases even begin to crumble. No one builds a house by starting with the roof and then work their way down. Everyone who builds always starts with a sure foundation. Is it any wonder that there is so much division and back sliding in the church and that the church is under such fierce attack from the enemy.
According to pastoralcareinc.com, :
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that something is wrong. It is our desire to do our part to turn this tide around. We are asking too much of pastors. And too many pastors are going into the ministry unprepared, in spite of seminary and missions training. Imagine fielding a football team with eleven 350 pound lineman. Yes, we would still get to watch a football game but it just wouldn't be as much fun to watch, or for that matter, enjoyable for the eleven lineman. We want to equip current pastors and ministers as well as laity with the revelation that the fivefold model of a church is one where we have a firm foundation, and each of the fivefold ministry have a place to function and build up the church of Jesus Christ as it was intended. This is what is meant in this passage from Ephesians 2;
"in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord".
So, why is it that we seemingly no longer see the Apostles? They simply were not replaced as they died off. The church leaders dropped the ball in that respect. You can be sure that the enemy was behind this because the first century church was turning the world upside down at the time. Satans kingdom was being ransacked and overturned. As a result of Apostles not being replaced the church started building on sand and over the years the house started to shift. There were splits in the church, various doctrines started to slip into the church, and the power of God was not being seen as it once was.
As I mentioned earlier, what RPM is trying to do is no threat to Pastors. However, pastors must accept the fact that they can't do it all alone, no matter how many qualified deacons and elders they have. Unless the fivefold leaders are identified and accepted and put in place, and members of the church are functioning under the direction of the fivefold leaders, the church will not function in the same power and authority we read about in the book of Acts and be able to invade and reclaim the seven mountains of influence.
Let's be honest, all across the globe there are very passionate men and women of God who greatly desire to serve the Lord and His people. The Lord has already anointed and appointed them, however, they still lack the character and the understanding to enter into the fullness of their calling. They need to be affirmed and encouraged in their calling, even those who are not called to traditional ministry (pastors, elders, deacons) within the four walls of the sanctuary.
Every local body can develop a place for these men and women to feel welcome and be completely at home. I'm talking about a place where all their needs are met, those who are mature along with those who are still learning. In this environment within the local body the differences between the roles of the offices and ministry are made clear so believers will know their place and how to respect and relate to others.
At RPM we desire to provide the missing pieces that you've been searching for and have been asking the Lord for and as a result help raise up a new generation of leaders in the church that will take their God-given talents and passion, and bring the church to the maturity she needs to have.
If you would like to review some common objections to the validity of the fivefold please check our blog.
If you would like to discuss how you can begin to progress in your calling or implement the fivefold at your church please drop us a line by filling out the form below.
In this episode Daniel discusses the nature of the "Five Fold" ministry gifts and how these all relate and derive from Christ's own earthly ministry. When Jesus ascended, He distributed His ministry to the Church, but rather than giving it all to any one person, He divided it among many. Why? Daniel's answer to this question will give you powerful new insight into the ministry gifts.
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