Today, let’s look at the different levels of fivefold ministry… All the fivefold gifts and ministers have a sphere of authority within which they must minister. This is determined by the geographical boundaries the Holy Spirit has set for them within which they are to function. But, also, based on relationships that the fivefold minister has cultivated. All ministry arises out of relationships – with God and with other leaders.
So, we see three basic levels of fivefold ministry … Some are local, some are national, and some are international.
Local church – – This is the first level of fivefold ministry. A local church leader and leadership team will identify, train, equip and then release individuals into their ministry gifts and callings for that local congregation or assembly. Their sphere of ministry is within that particular church. In Acts, the local church in the city of Antioch listed their prophets and teachers responsible for that church sphere and ministering within that local church and city (Acts 13). “In the church in Antioch there were prophets and teachers. Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen…and Saul.”
Here is how it works. Let’s say the church leaders notice that Mark is speaking God’s thoughts prophetically. They watch him closely for a number of months and observe that he meets the qualifications and requirements as set out in the Bible and has a true heart to see people equipped, trained, and released to minister.
The leadership team then communicates with Mark what they are sensing, and both Mark and his wife acknowledge his gift and growing ministry. After further training, equipping and relationship building the team then brings Mark before the congregation affirming his gift. Consequently, Mark receives a stamp of approval from the leadership team to travel freely throughout the congregation and small groups ministering in his prophetic gift.
Mark’s accountability, for his family and for the ministry is to the local leadership team, because they are the ones who released him. If Mark makes a mistake in ministry, the local leadership team has the authority, the relationship, and the anointing to bring corrections and adjustment to Mark. The confirmation of the person with the prophetic ministry is a sign of mutual accountability between the church and its chosen representative.
Family (Network) of churches – – This is the next sphere of development for a gifted person – say ministering prophetically but possible also having the call of a prophet on his life. They are discipled and mentored by other prophets and apostles until y are ready to be released as a prophet within the fivefold ministry. When a local leadership team discerns that the gift, anointing, and calling of an individual has grown beyond the scope of the local congregation, they recommend him to the next level of authority (the apostolic leadership team of their family or network of churches), to be commissioned and released as a trans-local minister. The term trans-local refers to a fivefold minister who has the authority to travel from congregation to congregation in a specific network of churches to train, equip, and release the saints for the work of the ministry.
The church leaders say, “Mark has really been faithful in training others and multiplying himself. We believe his gift and calling goes beyond this local church. It is time to release him to minister in our network of churches – those churches affiliated with ours.”
The local church leaders, under the direction of the apostle, would then contact the leadership team of the network so they too could enter in to the discernment process to see if Mark is ready and the timing is right. Once affirmed, they would commission Mark as a prophet in their network of churches and connect with the leaders of the individual churches within the network, sharing what the local and network team have done. He now has the stamp of approval to travel freely throughout the family of churches ministering prophetically and as a prophet.
Accountability for his ministry is provided by the leadership team of the network of churches that commissioned him. Accountability for his family primarily comes from the local church, where he is an active member and vital part of church life. If Mark makes a mistake in ministry in one of the network churches, it is the leadership team of the network of churches that has the responsibility to deal with the problem. They were the ones who released him to minister in the network and acknowledged his calling as a prophet.
If a network of churches is an international family, then it is best to have fivefold ministers released in geographical regions who are accountable to regional leadership. In some cases these regions are nations or a group of nations depending on how the regions are established.
So, if you belonged to the Canadian team or a regional team within Canada and were ministering in Africa. And, an issue arose while you were ministering. You would be accountable to and corrected by the Canadian regional team to which you belong. You are always accountable to the regional fivefold ministry team that released you nd with whom you have deep and personal relationships. This retains and protects the needed relational aspect.
More on the different levels of apostolic ministry next time…