The Bible speaks of the five-fold ministry of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher (Ephesians 4:11) whose task it is to equip the saints for the work of ministry. Jesus gives these gives to His Church – the Church that He is the Head of and that, as Matthew’s Gospel states, the Church that Jesus is building. These are also known as the ascension gifts as they were given to the Church as Jesus ascended. He had fulfilled all five of these roles during His three years of ministering while training His future leaders – the twelve disciples that He called apostles. So, as He ascended to the right hand of the Father He gave these roles to the Church and those who are called to these ministries within the Church today fulfill His complete ministry as they functioned together as a team.
The apostles and prophets are those whose main role or function is to start churches. They go, as did Paul the apostle, where the Gospel of the Kingdom has not been preached and they plant the seeds of the Gospel. They are wise to work with those who are called to be five-fold evangelists as the gift and skills of an evangelist are very important in the Start and Go stage of Gospel planting. As these seeds grow and believers are welcomed into the Kingdom the Church is founded and raised up by Jesus. He stated that He would build the Church. The apostle and prophet preach and share the Gospel, the Gospel is verified by miracles, signs and wonders as the Lord works with them (Mark 16:20), and the Church gathers starting with as few as two or three. The Lord promises that when two or three gather He will be there (Matthew 18:20). That is certainly what we all want when Church happens.
At this point the apostle and prophet will decide that it is time to “go.” The apostle and prophet are the “start and grow” part of the five-fold ministry team. They will stay in touch and continue to build relationally with those they have been working with and especially with the leaders of the new church. But, it is time for them to move on and begin again to plant another church for the Kingdom in an area that is spiritually dark. The evangelist will most often stay longer and work with the team that is now going to grow the Church and establish it as a world-changing force to be reasoned with. At this point we are still seeing a great deal of evangelism going on and the saints are being trained in evangelism because the middle of the five-fold ministry team (the evangelist) is very active allowing the church to be evangelistic.
But the key leaders at this time are those who are pastoring and teaching – the shepherds and teachers. These are the “Stay and Grow” part of the five-fold ministry team. They begin to work hand-in-hand with the evangelist as the local church enters the next life stage.
Maybe the evangelistic call and this the evangelistic gift is mentioned in the middle of the Ephesians 4:11list because it is the bridge between the foundation layers (Start and Go) and the church ‘builders’ (Stay and Grow), and is capable of working well in both contexts. The evangelist is, of course, valuable in the start up stage of the Church because of their zeal for seeing the lost saved. Seeing the lost saved is essential in the start up stage of the Church. But, they are still seriously valuable during the Stay and Grow stage because of their focus and emphasis. With its emphasis on growing the church by the addition of new Christ followers, the evangelist is essential for the ongoing building of the church. Evangelists provide the church with a tender heart for lost people, Without that gift anchored in the growing body of Christ, the entire ministry might become inwardly focused and self-serving.
We simply cannot leave the development of the church to the pastors (shepherds) and teachers alone, whose hearts are consumed with helping Christian become better together, but might neglect the lost and broken world if left to themselves. We must draw upon the compassion of the evangelist and their gift to ensure that compassion for the lost remains a core value in the Church.
So, if we need the evangelist to stay and help the local church to continue to build and grow. But, we also need the evangelist to move forward with the apostle and prophet into new territory to plant the Gospel and raise up another church – it seems that we are in desperate need of many more five-fold evangelists. Not just evangelistic people but true give-fold evangelists who not only evangelize but equip the saints to do the work of seeking and saving the lost. In my experience there is a tremendous shortage of five-fold evangelists in the Church today. I am sure Jesus is calling them – I just not see many young people rising to the challenge and accepting the call. This should be a matter of urgent prayer for al those who love the Lord and are involved in the growth and expansion of the Church that Jesus is building.