One of the missing ingredients in most discussions of church growth and development today is the role of the Five Fold Ministry. When Paul listed these five leadership gifts in Ephesians chapter four, he declared that their purpose was to equip believers to function in their ministry, build [develop] the body of Christ, keep things out of the ditches doctrinally, and bring the whole church to a place of unity, maturity, and fruitfulness. In other words, without the Five Fold the church would be filled with immature, poorly equipped Christians, divided by various doctrinal schisms, and largely ineffective in reaching the world. Sound familiar?
Jesus said, “I will build my church.” If we think of Jesus as the architect – then the Five Fold are like the contractors who pound the nails and get the thing put together. Like the general contractor on a construction project, these ministries were intended to pull together all the different “sub-trades” and build [edify] the church. What is needed today is Five Fold revolution in our thinking. Here is a five-fold plan:
1. First we need to embrace a Five Fold theology. The church at large needs to discard the mistaken idea that these gifts all passed away in the first century. Paul clearly says that they were given to the church until we all come into the unity of the faith and total maturity. That certainly hasn’t happened yet!
2. We need to learn to recognize these gifts in people. Unfortunately there have been too many examples of individuals claiming prophet or apostle status and then exploiting people for their own ends. But the New Testament warns us about false apostles and gives us some clues as to how to spot them when they arise. Learning to recognize them biblically, allows us to spot the charlatans and promote the real McCoys.
3. Thirdly, we need to re-evaluate our local church leadership. When we know the gifting of the senior leader, then his strengths and weaknesses will also be known and can be compensated for by positioning the other gifts in working relationship around him. Every church needs the influence and the input of the whole Five Fold in order to live at its full potential.
4. But the ministry of apostles and prophets in particular, are trans-local. The scope of their ministry takes them routinely outside the local church. This is why we need an apostolic network of churches working together. No one local church will ever truly be able to release the whole Five Fold to function as God intended. This means making sure any extra-local network is staffed with seasoned apostles and prophets.
5. The fifth ‘fold’ of this plan is reproduction. Old Testament prophets had a ‘school of the prophets’. New Testament apostles had a Timothy program going on. We need to re-think our local church programming so that Five Fold learners are being mentored by Five Fold leaders.
All of this spells release for these kingdom contractors. Each of them are anointed to equip, develop, and mobilize a certain segment of the church. When we finally figure out how to release the whole Five Fold I believe we will see a phenomenal release of the whole church!