Church Planting and the Fivefold – Part One

The model developed in the early Church, according to the book of Acts, has the fivefold ministry intimately involved in spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom and seeing the Lord build churches in many cities and regions (Acts, chapters 13 and 14). Where no church existed, the apostles preached the Gospel and new churches were planted upon good foundations (Ephesians 2:20). Laying the foundations that were necessary to see the local church succeed is the task of the apostles and prophets.

They utilized the evangelistic ministry to bring in the lost by preaching and sharing the good news of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Additionally, planting a new church required a prophetic orientation, so that the apostles could discern the spiritual needs of that community. Once the churches were formed, they handled problems as the arose and appointed local elders to care for the new church opening the way for the sheep to receive pastoral care and teaching through the ministry of the elders.

Apostles, prophets, and evangelists are essential in the early days of a church plant. Apostles lay foundations and prophets break through the spiritual strongholds. Evangelists bring in the unsaved and help the new church reach out to their community. Later, fivefold pastors and teachers will travel in and train the elders and members in pastoral care and teaching the Word. Pastors teach the leadership team of elders how to provide a place of safety and comfort to the people, and teachers help to train the elders in teaching as well as teaching the basic doctrines of the Christian faith to the church in general so that members are well grounded in what they believe.

The New Testament documents the flurry of churches being planted throughout the known world. In fact, it reads like a church planting manual:

Acts 2:42 Birth of the modern church – church planted in Jerusalem
Acts 8:14 Planting of Samaria church
Acts 9:20 Church in Damascus
Acts 9:31 Church in Judea
Acts 13:44 Whole city gathers to hear the Word of the Lord

Virtually all the great evangelistic challenges of the New Testament are calls to plant churches. This is why a leading missiologist says, “Planting new churches is the most effective evangelistic methodology known under heaven.”

Planting churches in the New Testament pattern requires a church-multiplying movement that involves the fivefold ministry functioning in all of its power and anointing. The fivefold ministry will never be fully developed unless fivefold ministers are released into church planting as they multiply themselves.

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