The Five Fold Ministry and God's Church

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God is building His church in the earth today. His church is also known as the Body of Christ. Every single Jesus follower has an assignment within God’s church or Christ’s body, including you. Some roles are formal while other roles may not even be recognized by the traditional church. I want you to know that you are important, you belong, and God has an assignment for you that brings Him glory and causes you to experience fulfillment.

The 5 Fold Ministry

The Apostle Paul received instruction from God about church government and how leadership should be structured, he wrote about it in his letter to the church at Ephesus. Paul mentions apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.

Let me address this from the beginning, the “5 fold ministry” is NOT a hierarchy. A hierarchy is a system or organization in which people or groups are ranked one above the other according to status or authority. In the body of Christ, no person has authority over another. The 5 positions listed are offices of administration, not positions of authority or power.

All believers have the same authority, which is Christ in us. All believers have the same power, which is Christ in us. All believers have the same anointing, which is Christ in us. There is no apostolic anointing and there is no prophetic anointing, there is one anointing, one spirit and one Lord, Christ in us. The offices mentioned in Ephesians 4 are functions within the body of Christ, not positions of authority over other parts of the body of Christ.

Here’s why God instituted these offices of administration…

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to EQUIP THE SAINTS for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 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, 14 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.

READ The Unknown Healer: Understanding the Gifts of the Spirit for more on the idea of anointing.

System of Control

It’s interesting that the “5 fold” is to help believers stay away from bad doctrine but sometimes people who overemphasize it end up perpetuating bad doctrine.

Here’s an example of what I mean, this is a popular teaching that is pervasive in circles that focus on apostolic and prophetic ministry. This progression starts with a truth then makes an extrapolation that strays into error and creates the possibility for control.

Here’s the progression...

  • Jesus is coming back for a spotless bride.

  • Jesus isn’t coming back until the bride is spotless.

  • The 5 fold is for the perfecting of the saints.

  • Therefore proper apostolic alignment is necessary for the bride to be perfected properly so Jesus can come back, because he’s not coming back for a bride he has to clean.

Many of you have encountered some form of this teaching. My question is, “what makes the bride spotless?” The obvious answer is, the blood of Christ. It is most assuredly NOT being aligned under the proper apostolic covering. There is no spiritual covering other than Jesus, no man or woman is your spiritual covering or authority.

The leaders in these kinds of churches end up taking on a role that is not proper, they place themselves between the believer and the Holy Spirit. If a man believes he’s this kind of apostle then it’s his responsibility to make you perfect. Usually a “culture” is formed around this idea and you must conform to rise through the ranks. If you don’t conform you are labeled as dishonoring or something similar. If you have been in those circles, you know the mystical control that’s exercised among the leaders.

The 5 fold offices of administration are supposed to help Jesus followers grow up into their new creation identity in Christ, not make them spotless enough for Jesus to return.

Colossians 1:22 but now He has reconciled in His body of flesh through death, to present you holy and unblemished and blameless before Him

Jesus presents you holy and unblemished to the Father, not your apostle.

You Have An Assignment

We need people to answer the call and take their assignments within the body of Christ seriously, but it must be from the perspective of family and unity rather than authority and power.

You are complete in Christ but God has an assignment for you. Do you know what it is? It’s not based on what you do really well, it’s based on who you love. Your assignment or your calling is made evident by who your heart has passion for. Whether that be widows, orphans, the homeless, single moms, pastors, bikers, politicians, children, etc… Jesus commands us to love one another, it only makes sense that your assignment is related to who you have love for.

I encourage you to spend some time answering the question, “who do you love?” Identify that people group and take action toward them, in whatever way the Holy Spirit leads.

Next week I will begin to talk about the specific gifts and help you become confident in the gifts God is seeking to work through you.

My series Why Am I Here? may be a helpful resource for you this week.

Clint Byars

Believer, Husband, Father