An Apostolic Understanding – Part Forty-Seven

The Church in the New Testament met in people’s homes. These house churches could be as small as a single family or as large as 60 to 70 people determined by the size of the home ad the enclosed yard. So, few churches would have had even one of the fivefold ministry gifts within the church assembly. Most the church members were recent converts from either the Jewish faith or paganism. They would be immature and untrained in the spiritual gifts that come when a person is baptized in the Holy Spirit.

So the question is: “How were the churches in the book of Acts able to operate in the fivefold ministry?” As you study the book of Acts you will discover that the key to the effective functioning of the local church and the ministry of the fivefold gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd, and teacher was the establishment of what could be called “apostolic centers.” These were established in Jerusalem, Corinth, Ephesus, Antioch and other places as well.

An apostolic center can be defined as: A beachhead for the gospel of the Kingdom in a territory. It is a regional resource center established to provide everything necessary for the planting of the seed of the Gospel of the Kingdom and the raising up of new expressions of the Church in the region -and focusing on having these churches grow and multiply.

The early church in the New Testament had no megachurches. It didn’t even have what we would call ‘moderate sized’ churches. It was made up of hundreds or even thousands of small house churches scattered across a region or a city. Individually each church had few resources. But these churches could operate in great power because they were not isolated nor alone. The churches in each region were linked into a central hub that gave them access to the fivefold ministry teams serving their area.

Whenever the Church expanded into a new area or a new culture, a new apostolic center was established. These apostolic centers were all different, but they each met a number of needs:

1> They were first and foremost teaching and training centers. Each apostolic center was begun by a visiting apostolic team devoting a year or more to the intensive teaching and training, equipping and mentoring, of disciples.

2> They were also sending centers. From an apostolic center, ministry teams were sent out to plant new the Gospel of the Kingdom, raise up new disciples, and to see Jesus use their efforts to build New Testament churches in the region thus penetrating new territory for the Kingdom – thus becoming a multiplying movement.

3> They would also travel trans-locally to strengthen already established churches.

4> Apostolic centers frequently served as gathering places for regional discussions and decision making conferences.

5> Regional apostolic centers also were places for celebrations. In the Old Testament God established the pattern that regional worship gatherings be held three times a year at the biblical feast days. The early church continued this practice well into the 4th century. Christians in small isolated house churches would come together at an apostolic center for larger celebrations as hundreds or even thousands gathered for encouragement, praise, and worship.

Through teaching, training, and the sending out of apostolic teams, apostolic centers acted as hubs where all the churches in the region could access the fivefold ministry gifts. As a result of being connected to an apostolic center, churches in the first century were never weak or isolated. They were apostolically linked. Even a small house church had access to the ministry of an apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd, and teacher. The result was that the church flourished.

Through apostolic centers every Christian in the region could be trained to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit and do what Jesus did (Acts1:5, 8; John 14:12). Saints were equipped and spiritual gifts were released. Signs and wonders took place, and the territory was transformed by the power of the Gospel;.

Today, in many nations, God is raising up apostolic centers.

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Forty-Six

We are seeing God establish the Church that Jesus is building. It is being built upon revelation. God is revealing to us the foundation, the design, the function, and the life of this new wineskin.

He is asking current churches to embrace the changes necessary to become a new wineskin. Some are catching the vision and this new move of the Spirit. Others are rejecting it. Those who reject it will see some of their members leave because they are individually sensing the move of the Spirit and the absence of life in the church. So, they will quietly leave in search of “life.”

And, those who are not hungry for more and are not experiencing divine discontent with what it … churches that don’t embrace this move of the Spirit will simply go on with their programs and events as if nothing has changed or is changing. They have not experienced His life and power in decades and will not want what they have not had. They cannot miss what they have not experienced. For them, it will be business as usual.

For those who move on and others who want to see the Church that Jesus is building – the question is where do we start? What are the first steps towards establishing a new wineskin and being a part of this new move of God towards an apostolic church?

So, let’s look at how we can cooperate with the Holy Spirit and build according to the biblical pattern. How do we transition from a pastoral model to an apostolic model?

1> The first step is recognizing that the pastoral model is not biblical and to recognize the need for a change to an apostolic model of the church. To see that programs and pastors are not doing what needs to be done to win the lost and see the Kingdom expanded.

2> Then there needs to be an apostolic alignment. You cannot make the transition alone or isolated from the fivefold ministry and others who are making this transition. You need to connect relationally with an apostle and, through them, with an apostolic network of churches.So, find one, take the time needed to build relationally, and learn all you can from the apostle.

3> Make sure that the believers you are working with have a good biblical picture and understanding of what a true disciple of Jesus (a Christian) is suppose to be. We are not called to be pew warmers. We are called to be the army of God on the earth. Communicate that vision to the church members.

4> Begin to equip the saints for ministry. Make training available. Offer classes and schools teaching people about the gifts of the Spirit, how to hear the voice of God, the gift of prophecy, evangelism, healing the sick, and deliverance. Out of this training time, meet with those who are submitted, mature, and effective, and form a team to move the church into the apostolic model. Also, release them to minister within the church – preaching, teaching, praying. In this way you will defeat the “man of God – one man ministry” pastoral syndrome and begin to instil the ‘every member a minister’ apostolic approach.

5> Remember that it takes time to change the paradigm of a group of believers. So, go slowly, be patient, teach, repeat often, and pray a lot.

As you go through this process you will need to give the people a new understanding of the way a local church functions. As you release the senior (and associate) pastors to actually find their true callings – you will need to explain that the role of “pastor” is a fivefold trans-local ministry and not a local church, resident ministry. That this established leadership role was never biblical and limits what a church can do and prevents a church from becoming what God intended it to become. And, teach that the oversight of the spiritual life of the local church is in the hands of a team of elders and not the task of a solo pastor or a board..

As well, you will need to come to understand how the fivefold ministry fits within this new structure of elders as leaders and the people as ministers.

One of the biggest struggles will be to find the fivefold ministers that you need to connect with. The biggest question for churches trying to transition to a fivefold ministry apostolic model is, ‘Where do we find fivefold ministers?’ This will be the same question raised by new assemblies of believers who are wanting to start their new church in the right way with the correct foundation (Ephesians 2:20).

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Forty-five

The fivefold ministry not only sets order in the Church that Jesus is building but it also empowers the Church ultimately bringing fulfillment to each individual Christian.

When God created you, He designed you to be a minister. The Bible tells us that before you were born, God designed a perfect plan for your life. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Romans 12:2 assures us that God’s plan for you is “good, pleasing, and perfect.” It is not something you will dread. It will not make you miserable. It’s the thing that will bring you supreme joy and satisfaction in life.

Part of this plan involves finding your place of ministry in His Body. In Ephesians 2:10 the apostle Paul tells us that you were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

God designed you to accomplish certain “good works” during your time on earth. He then prepared you in advance, building into your personality everything you need to be successful in His eyes. He gave you a unique personality, unique abilities, and a unique set of spiritual gifts. He planted a desire in you that can only be satisfied by fulfilling that call. God wants you to know that you are not an accident. You are here for a purpose. You’ve been sent here on a mission.

Some of you were created to heal the sick. Some of you were gifted to teach. Some of us were gifted to prophesy. It does not matter where you work, or how much money you make, if you are not doing what God created you to do, you will always have a gnawing feeling and hunger deep down inside, a feeling that something is missing.

It is always exciting to teach others who they are “in Christ.” When you teach people how to sense the Holy Spirit, how to respond to His presence, and how to hear His voice as you share fellowship with the Spirit … Wow! When people begin to move in the supernatural realm and exercise their spiritual gifts, they get excited and I get excited.

When teaching people to pray for the sick …when they lay hands on someone and sense the moving of the Spirit and the release of the healing anointing…it changes them forever. And, I get excited for them because they are now entering into the ministry and their destiny in Christ.
And, when you pray for someone and they are healed suddenly the whole issue of faith is not just intellectual. You realize that the Christian faith is real at a level you had never imagined. You begin looking for opportunities to pray for someone else. As a result, you are changed and your local church is transformed.

In the pastoral church one man ministers. Very few are trained and equipped. Occasionally someone is sent off to Bible School or seminary to prepare for “The Ministry.” The world is not reached, and the Church barely sustains itself.

In the apostolic Church all are trained and equipped. All discover their call and purpose. All do the work of the ministry, and the Church becomes a mighty army in the earth. The territory is transformed. This is where the new wineskin church is heading.

God’s new wineskin begins as an apostolic movement., it develops the fivefold ministry, but it ultimately results in the “saints movement” where every believer is doing the works of Jesus. God is calling His Church to a new administration and a new understanding of the Body of Christ. He is forming a new wineskin. It is time for the Church to arise. It is time for God’s people to be released into the world to win the lost.

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Forty-four

So, how did Jesus equip the saints to be ministers and then to minister?

Jesus made it a priority to teach His followers to do the things He did. Think about Jesus’ ministry of healing. Healing was important to Jesus. He healed almost everywhere that He went. He healed in the marketplace. He healed in the synagogue. He healed on the Sabbath. He healed Gentiles. When large crowds came He healed them all. Jesus saw healing as an important part of His work in the earth.

Jesus not only practiced healing, but also commanded His followers to heal. In Luke 9 He sent out the 12 and commanded them to heal the sick. In Luke 10 He sent out the 70 and again commanded them to heal. Notice that this was a command. If they had gone out and seen thousands of people saved but had not healed the sick, they would have been disobedient. Jesus did not view healing as His work alone. He repeatedly commanded His disciples to heal the sick.

Jesus promised the power to heal to all who followed Him. Mark 16: 17-18 says, “These signs will accompany those who believe. They will place their hands on sick people and they will get well.” In John 14:12, one of my all-time favourite verses, Jesus said, “Those who believe in Me will do the works (healings and miracles) I have done.”

Jesus healed. He commanded His followers to heal. He promised that all who follow Him would have power to heal. Then He commanded the apostles to teach His Church to heal.

The last instructions Jesus gave His Church before ascending into heaven is often call The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Most Christians consider The Great Commission to be of supreme importance, but only a few have taken the time to understand what it says.

In The Great Commission, Jesus commanded His followers to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” He then adds, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” The Living Bible translates that last phrase this way, “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.”

So The Great Commission is not just a command to evangelize the world. It includes the instruction to teach our new converts. Specifically we are to teach our converts to do the same things Jesus commanded the original disciples to do.

Jesus gave His followers many commands but one of His most frequent commands given every time He sent them out was, “Heal the sick.” So, if The Great Commission tells us to instruct our converts to do the same things Jesus commanded His disciples to do, we are not obeying The Great Commission unless we are teaching His followers today to heal the sick!

This is what we see in the book of Acts. At first just the apostles healed. They modeled healing ministry for the Church. Acts 2:43 says, “Many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.” But the apostles were not content to be the only ones healing, so they prayed for healings to increase in the Church. Acts 4:30 says, “Lord, stretch out Your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders.”

The apostles spent a lot of time teaching the people (Acts 4:2). What were they teaching? I believe part of their curriculum was “Healing the Sick 101.”

How do we know this? Because as we read through the book of Acts, you discover that the Church members learned to heal the sick. Acts 6 records that Stephen did great wonders and miraculous signs. Acts 8 says that Philip, who had served in the Jerusalem church by waiting on tables, went out and performed miraculous signs, “With shrieks evil spirits came out of many, and may paralytics and cripples were healed.”

The result was a healing Church. 1 Corinthians 12 describes what happened when the Early Church met together. It says, “To one is given a Word of Knowledge … to another faith … to another gifts of healings … to another working of miracles.” For the first Christians, this was the normal experience of church life. When they come together each day, they expected to see healing and miracles.

Jesus wants all of us to do what He did. Followers of Jesus were called Christians because they were a bunch of people who walked around doing the same things as Jesus. This is what we are suppose to do also, and we fulfill our call when we do it.

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Forty-Three

To become an apostolic church, we need to get a new picture of what the church is suppose to be. We need to go from a pastoral model understanding of the church and grasp the new wine skin (really the original wineskin) or apostolic model of the Church. To make this switch we also need to get a new vision of our call as Christians. In other words, what it means to be a true believer and disciple of Jesus. We need to see ourselves differently. If you know Jesus you are not called to sit in church every Sunday morning and be a good church member until you die and go to heaven. You are called to serve and minister. The job of the Church is to build you up into a serious maturity and equip you with the supernatural tools and the knowledge of how to use those tools (gifts) to minister effectively to others – saved and unsaved.

Every member is a minister. I have been teaching that since I was first saved back in 1976. But, it is a hard sell because the pastoral model of the church sees a minister as a paid, well educated, professional who is ordained and thus anointed for the task of ministering. We need to reprogram our brains and begin to think biblically and not religiously or traditionally.

We have always assumed that we are the congregation and the pastor is the minister. Some of us picture a minister as someone who wears “religious-looking” clothing, stands behind a pulpit and preaches sermons.

So, what does it mean for every Christian to minister? Do we all need to wear religious-looking clothing? Do we all need to learn to preach and stand behind a pulpit? Of course not! Ministry is simply doing the works of Jesus. Ministry is doing “the stuff” that Jesus did. It is bringing salvation, healing, deliverance, and encouragement to the people around us.

Let me differentiate between ministry and maintenance. Ministry is, as far as I can see biblically, touching the lives of those who do not know Jesus and helping them to take a step towards Jesus and salvation. Ministry as it is seen in most churches, is really simply caring for those who are already believers. I see that as maintenance, not ministry.

Jesus described His ministry – and thus our ministry – as…

Isaiah 61:1-3 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” (see also: Luke 4:18-19)

This is what we are to do towards non-believers. Believers have already received and experienced this freedom as they became “new creatures in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). So, ministry is for those outside of the Kingdom who have yet to discover and receive God’s favour through salvation.

Let’s summarize it this way: Ministry is finding those who don’t know Jesus and who are being oppressed by the enemy and bringing them into the Kingdom and thus the blessings of God. If they are lost, you bring them salvation. If they are in bondage, you bring them deliverance. If they are weak, you bring them strength. If they are hopeless, you release vision and faith. If they are in lack, you show them how to walk in God’s abundance. If they are sick, you bring them healing. God has called you to do all of these things.

God wants all of us to minister to the lost. In the church we maintain the flock and equip, train, and mentor the sheep to minister more effectively and supernaturally. Currently we ‘minister’ to one another and almost totally ignore those who don’t know Jesus – the least, the last, the lost. Not biblical in the least.

So, there are two major changes we need to grab hold of. The first, we are all ministers – not just the person in the robes upfront who preaches on Sunday. And, secondly, that what we do inside the church is almost totally maintenance. Ministry takes place outside the assembly seven days a week as we live life and its focus is the lost.

God wants all of us to minister. That is what they understood in the Early Church. Notice how the New Testament describes the members of the Early Church:
Acts 8:4 – “they went out and preached”
Mark 16:17-18 “all can heal and deliver”
John 14:12 – “all can do miracles”
1 Corinthians 14:31, 39 – “all can prophesy”
Hebrews 5:12 – “all should be teaching”

If you are a true born again believers, God has called you to minister.

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Forty-Two

Continuing our look at the early church started yesterday, we need to understand that the Early Church had a different picture of “church” than most people have today. Most today assume that a church should have a congregation and a pastor. The congregation is made up of ‘laymen’ with no training or real biblical knowledge. The pastor is professionally trained and is there to take care of them. This is the “pastoral” model of the church.

The Early Church had a different model. It is found in Ephesians 4:11-16. The Early Church did not have a generic pastor. It had five distinct leadership gifts – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. When you read that today you think apostle – trans-local; prophet – trans-local; evangelist – trans-local; pastor – local; and teacher – local. Not so, all five roles and callings, including “pastor” and “teacher” were trans-local travelling ministries and not resident in a specific local church on a local church’s leadership team. The local church was led by a team of local elders. The pastor, as with the other four of the fivefold ministers, travelled in on a regular basis to minister to and with the local elders.

The fivefold ministers had a different purpose. Ephesians 4 tells us that the five leadership gifts shared a common purpose … “to equip God’s people for the work of ministry.” They did not do the ministry – they trained the believers to do the ministry. The Early Church did not view its members as sheep to be fed and cared for forever. They viewed their members as saints called by God to minister. The job of the local leaders and the fivefold ministry team members is the equip the saints to do so.

Most of the Church today has not understood God’s plan. If we picture the church as a sports team, we think of the senior pastor as the star player. We are the fans. We come and sit in the stands and cheer him on. We hope he scores a goal this week. At the end of the service, if the pastor gives an invitation and someone is saved or healed, we think we have won the game. But this is not God’s plan for the Church.

In God’s plan the church leaders (elders aided on occasion by the fivefold ministers) are trainers and coaches. If you are watching the Super Bowl and the coach of your team runs unto the field, grabs the ball, and runs it down the field for a touchdown, would you cheer? No! That score would not count. It is not the coach’s job to score.

The same is true in Church. The job of the church leaders is not to score the goals. Their job is to equip and train the saints. God wants average, everyday Christians to be the star players. Church members are to be a mighty army doing the works of God in the earth. If this is not happening, the church leaders are failing.

Let’s say this again – If you are a church leader (no matter your title or position), the measure of your success in God’s eyes is not your ability to draw a big crowd on Sunday mornings. It is not your ability to preach inspiring sermons, or run an efficient church. It is not even your ability to heal the sick and cast out demons. The measure of your success is your ability to raise up a generation of saints who can minister better than you.

This is a new version of the Church for many believers but it has always been God’s plan. The Church is His Body in the earth; a visible expression of His presence and His Kingdom power. As individuals find their place in ministry, the Church begins to operate as God planned – in power doing the works of Jesus in the earth (see: John 14:12).

So, the book of Acts shows us the mentality of the Early Church. In the early chapters of Acts when the apostles taught the 3000 new Christians, they were not teaching them how to be good church members. They were teaching them to do the works of Jesus. They were teaching them to heal the sick, cast out demons, perform miracles, give prophetic words, and win the lost.

This is how God designed the Church, His Church, to operate. This is what is known as the apostolic model and today, it is the new wineskin into which God will pour out His new wine.

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Forty-One

The goal of the fivefold ministry is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12). In other words, to enable and empower the Church, the regular, every-day believers, to rise up in New Testament power.

Our clearest picture of what fivefold ministry produces is found in the book of Acts. Acts 2:41-43 describes the birth of the Church this way,

“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.”

Now we move forward in the life of the Church in Jerusalem to Acts, Chapter eight.

“And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles … Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed.”

As we take a closer look at what was happening in these passages we see that Peter gave one message and 3,000 people were born again. The Church went from 120 to 3,120 in a day! This was rapid growth, even for the early church. Luke describes the life of the early church this way, “Those who had been added to the Church were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching…”

As 21st Century Christians, we usually filter this account through our own church experience. We see this passage through our traditional and religious glasses. We tend to picture it this way: The 3,000 baby Christians are the congregation. The apostles are the pastors. The apostles taught and ministered while the 3,000 came and listened. This is a picture that we can relate to.

If this is how the early church really operated, we can imagine what might have taken place next. The apostles would have taught the people to tithe, and start a building fund. They would have instructed their flock to attend church regularly, live good lives, and have happy marriages. The apostles would have continued to preach and teach, to minister and heal.

The 3,000 would have become good church members. They would have invited their friends to church so the apostles could minister to them also. From time to time they would send out a missionary. They would have constructed a building to hold 3,000+ people, and as the church grew, they would have gone to two services. We would say, “This is a very healthy church.” The apostles were good ministers and had a large congregation.

This is why we are surprised when we come to our second passage – Acts, Chapter eight. It says, “on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.” The rapid growth of the Jerusalem Church had aroused persecution from the local religious leaders, and the Christians fled the city.

It is important to note two things in this verse … First, Who was scattered? Everyone was scattered! All the Church members! This is the original 3,000, plus all those who had been saved since the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). The members of the ‘congregation’ fled Jerusalem and relocated to towns and villages throughout the territory.

Now notice … Who stayed in Jerusalem? The apostles stayed in Jerusalem. The spiritual leaders!

We could read this and think that the church is in trouble. The members of the church have run for their lives, and the apostles didn’t go with them. All these poor sheep are out there without a shepherd. They have no one to minister to them and care for them.

Can you imagine this happening in a typical church today? We assume that without a ‘pastor’ to care for them, those poor sheep will be lost. They will drift away from the Lord. If the Early Church operated like the church of today, this would have been a major disaster.

But something happened in Acts 8 that we would not anticipate. Notice what happened to these poor scattered sheep … “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (Acts 8:4). Those “poor sheep” went out and preached.

The passage goes on, “With shrieks evil spirits came out of many and many paralytics and cripples were healed” (Acts 8:7) Those “poor, scattered sheep” performed miracles!

In Acts 9 it says, “The Church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened and grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:31). Those “poor scattered sheep” went out and started strong, healthy churches whoever they went!

Can you imagine this happening in the church today? The ‘scattered sheep,’ cut off from the care of their spiritual leaders, went out and preached the Gospel, performed signs, wonders, and miracles, and planted strong, healthy churches all over the land. The “sheep” went out and ministered while the shepherds stayed home.

In a situation that would have destroyed any church today, the early church thrived. How did they do it?

We will look at that next time…

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Forty

We have been looking at the five gifts that Jesus gave to His Church when He ascended into heaven. They are: apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd, teacher. These were the five ministries that Jesus fulfilled during His three years of touching lives before dying on the cross. To have the full ministry of Jesus in any local assembly this fivefold ministry must be present. Otherwise, the fullness of His ministry will not be experienced.

However, we need to remember that the Bible warns us about false apostles and prophets, false teachers and false christs. So, we are warned to be careful in recognizing these gifs. Each of these five gifts has a satanic counterfeit, so don’t accept someone lightly into the fivefold ministry. People are not always who they say they are and often are self-appointed and not God-selected. Don’t accept someone just on their own claims. If someone comes claiming to be an apostle or a prophet, don’t be quick to believe them. Wait until you see fruit.

Sometimes people come to me and introduce themselves as “apostle so-and-so” and expect to be released to minister at a public service in the church. Unless I know the person – or they come highly recommended by someone I respect – they are not given permission to minister. The Bible instructs us to “know those who minister among you” (1 Thessalonians 5:12). And, remember, those who have the real gift and calling will not be promoting themselves, or seeking recognition. They will be quietly serving and producing fruit. The gift and calling will make room for them to minister.

Does everyone have one of the fivefold callings or roles within the Church? The answer is, “no.” Each person who is born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit has one or more of the nine supernatural ministering gifts as found in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. However, those are gifts of the Holy Spirit available to everyone. The fivefold ministry gifts are callings placed upon certain lives by Jesus to bless His Church and His people.

The Bible compares the members of the Body of Christ to the organs of the human body. The human body has many organs, each with its own function, and every organ is important. But certain organs, like the brain and heart, are vital organs. The other organs cannot live without these.

In the same way God has placed many gifts in the Body of Christ. All the gifts are important, but the fivefold gifts are like vital organs. Their purpose is the create an environment where the other gifts are able to thrive. Where fivefold ministry is established, the whole body is built up, and all the members are equipped to fulfill their role and destiny.

And, remember, these are trans-local gifts to the Church. So, you will seldom see a local church with all five ministries resident within its membership. These gifts come in from outside the local church to minister and bring order within the life of the local assembly. And, they are relationally connected to the family called the Church where they minister. They come in as part of the family and serve the leaders and people when they are present.

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Thirty-Nine

Let’s look together at the last two of the fivefold ministry team – the pastor / shepherd and the evangelist.

The fivefold pastor biblically does not lead a church. A true fivefold pastor will be tremendously frustrated if put into the position of running and administrating a religious organization.

Biblically the local church did not have a resident pastor or a full-time leader called a pastor. In the pages of the New Testament the head of the local assembly was usually an apostle working hand-in-hand with an eldership team. Have a look to whom Paul addressed his letters (epistles).

Because of the way that man has built his church we have placed a pastor to lead each church. Biblically the way a church is started is to send out an apostle (1 Corinthians 12:28) and if you look at this verse the pastor is never even mentioned or referenced…

“And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.”

The church has called 1 and 2 Timothy and Tutus ‘pastoral epistles’ and yet both Titus and Timothy were apostles. So, to be more accurately named they should be called ‘the apostolic epistles.’ And, they actually set out many of the aspects of the life of an apostle and the character foundations needed for a successful apostolic ministry. They are not pastoral in the least.

We have built an entire church structure and understanding of the function of the church on a false understanding of the leadership model of the church and a totally wrong understanding of the ministry of the fivefold pastor. In fact, we have built a pastoral model of the church when the word “pastor” only appears once in the New Testament and that is with reference to the fivefold trans-local ministry and not a local key leader of a church.

So, the fivefold pastor (there is no other kind) is someone with a heart to care for God’s scattered sheep. And, they are willing to sacrifice their own life for the sheep. The true pastor, who is trans-local, will come into a local church and train the people to care for one another.

There are 59 “one another” verses in the New Testament and a solo pastor could never accomplish any of them for all the people who might look to them for pastoral care in the man-made model of the church. Paul tells use in 1 Corinthians 12 that the body has many member and each member ministers to the body. Not the pastor ministering but the saints ministering to “one another.” So, the fivefold pastor comes in to a local church to train the saints of God how to minister to one another so that all the sheep have their needs met and are fed, comfortable, and protected.

So, as Ephesians 4:11-15 states, the pastor, as part of the fivefold ministry team, equips the saints and the saints do the work of the ministry so that the Body of Christ, the Church, reaches maturity and attains to a supernatural unity that enables it to impact and influence the world.

And then there is the fivefold evangelist. Everyone is called to win the lost as they “go into all the world and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). And, some are really good at this and seem to even have a special ability or anointing to do so. However, this does not make them a fivefold evangelist.

Again, the fivefold evangelist is part of the fivefold team working hand-in-hand with the apostle, prophet, shepherd, and teacher. Although the evangelist will win the lost as all disciples should this is not what declares him to be a fivefold evangelist.

A fivefold evangelist will hold crusades where many will come to he Lord and begin their faith journey with Jesus. But, their main task is to come into the local church and train the believers in how to share the gospel in the culture and to the generation that they represent and work with. They train and equip the saints for this work of the ministry.

Most fivefold evangelists work strongly in the supernatural Holy Spirit gifts of Healing and the Working of Miracles. These are major gifts to let people know that God loves them and thus introduce them to the Father’s love gift, His Son Jesus.

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Thirty-Eight

The third team member of the fivefold ministry is the teacher.

A fivefold teacher is not just someone who teaches and imparts information. We call many who impart information “teacher.” We have teaching pastors, Bible teachers, Sunday school teachers, and on the list could go. But none of these are part of the fivefold ministry team “teacher” calling. Teacher in Ephesians 4:11 is a calling to be a part of the fivefold ministry team and is a leadership role in the church. It is also a trans-local ministry that takes the teacher from church to church the same as the ministry of the apostle and prophet.

To Note as well, a fivefold teacher is not simply someone who teaches from an outline (to wrongly differentiate them from a preacher), or someone who communicates facts. See the note at the bottom…

The fivefold teacher teaches by revelation. As they study they receive a fresh understanding of the ancient words of Scripture. Also, they receive a fresh way of expressing the new insight into an old truth to the current generation of believers and non-believers. The ministry of the fivefold teacher imparts understanding in fresh, new ways. When we gain fresh understanding, we can then walk in wisdom and we are able to fulfill God’s plan and purpose for our lives.

True fivefold teachers are motivated to help you to learn the ways of God and the heart of God. They do not want to just give you more information. They want God’s Word to enter your heart and bring forth transformation in your life. They give you revelation on how to walk with God and enjoy all that God has given to you through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Life change is always the result of the ministry of the fivefold teacher.

A true fivefold teacher will not try to impress you with how much they know. Their goal is not to make you dependent on them or to build up their reputation. What they teach will not sound hard or complicated. In fact, they will take rather complicated biblical and theological truths and express them in simple ways that everyone can understand. What a fivefold teacher says will usually sound very simple. The gift of the fivefold teacher takes what is a complex truth and makes it easy to understand.

You can recognize a fivefold teacher by two things. First, there will be a serious hunger to know the truth – a love for God’s Word. Second, there will be an ability to communicate so people can understand. When you heard a fivefold teacher teach, the lights go on and your heart is strangely warmed as were the hearts of the disciples when the resurrected Jesus revealed God’s Word to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Your life changes.

A fivefold teacher will also teach others to teach. They will train and equip local teachers – Sunday school, Bible teachers, pulpit teachers – to teach God’s Word in a way that can be received and understood by the current generation of church attender and believers. They will teach teachers how to receive revelation through the written Word of God, the Bible.

As with the prophet, teachers are looking for the next generation of fivefold teachers whom they can disciple, train, equip, mentor, and release.

To Note: The Church mistakenly sees teachers as those who share the word line-up-line, precept-upon-precept. And, they see preachers as those who are more lively and tell more stories and have a larger entertainment factor in what they say and how they say it. In reality – it is the audience that determines whether someone is preaching or teaching. If the person sharing the Word is speaking to believers then they are teaching. If they are speaking or sharing with non-believers then they are preaching. The lost are saved through the preaching of the Cross… The difference between teaching and preaching is not the style or substance of the teaching but the audience listening.