The concept of the five-fold ministry is based on a Scripture in Ephesians chapter four, that says that Jesus gave to His assembly, apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds (pastors), and teachers. Traditionally those concepts have been seen as special gifts (or callings) that individual Christians have. Sometimes people even choose one to use as a personal title before their name.
I woke up this morning with a fresh perspective about the five-fold ministry flowing through my spirit. Too often Christians are fed with religious information, but starved of spiritual insight. However, true Christian ministry releases revelation (God-given insight); it doesn’t just dispense information. So how do each of the five-fold gifting release and develop God-given insight?
A) Apostles: The word literally means “sent one.” Apostles are Kingdom doers, errand runners sent to do what King Jesus says.
P) Prophets are Kingdom-insight seers and truth proclaimers. They receive and share fresh revelation from Jesus.
E) Evangelists are Kingdom recruiters who show people the Way, the living resurrected Jesus.
S) Shepherds (pastors) are Kingdom nurturers who help connect people heart to heart with Jesus and nurture that connection through listening and compassion. They help release revelation, healing, and forgiveness into people’s hearts.
T) Teachers are Kingdom disciplers. They do more than dispense information. They give people practical, hands-on training in how to hear, follow, and obey Jesus on a daily basis. They prepare people to be sent out as Kingdom doers.
Ephesians says that the purpose of these gifts is to equip all Christ-followers to do works of service (ministry) so that the body of Christ can be built up and brought to unity and maturity. I believe that churches have limited the Holy Spirit by teaching people that these gifts are only for a very few special individuals and by ignoring them (except for pastor). I believe that they are Jesus-led functions, not titles or privileged offices.
Since Jesus taught that His followers shouldn’t “Lord it over people,” I don’t believe these five gifts are a positional hierarchy, but equal gifts in a progressive circle. Personally, I find these giftings working in my daily life at different times and in different situations. Daily I seem to be led from gift to gift — from being a Kingdom doer, to being a Kingdom-insight seer/proclaimer, to being a Kingdom recruiter, to being a Kingdom nurturer, to being a Kingdom discipler.
As the early Christians drifted away from Spirit-led gatherings based on the Greek word “ekklesia,” they began to organize men-led churches and to see the five-fold gifts as individual men in administrative positions. However, the Bible says Christians are to be “led by the Spirit.” (Romans 8:14.) Let’s open up and be individually led by the Spirit to pursue all five gifts in each of our lives and to help other people pursue them as well.