We have been looking at how a fivefold minister develops and receives or gains recognition by the leaders of the church and then the network of churches to which he is connected and where he ministers. The fivefold minister first develops relationships with local leaders in his home church where he is being discipled, trained, equipped, and, most importantly, mentored. Here the focus is not just on the gifts and his calling but his character and social / relational skills. As his ministry becomes recognized within the local church he is then publicly recognized as a fivefold minister (in-training) and released to minister locally, under the authority of the local leaders. Accountable to them as well.
Then as his gifts develop and his skills in using these gifts increases he will find himself ministering to other churches within the family of churches – a network or a union of churches. He is still accountable on the local level but his range of experiences will be greater and his skills, both ministry-wise and relationally / socially, will be developing and maturing. At this level he will be invited to churches and ministries within the family where he is becoming known and may even work a little bit outside of the union in other churches as well as in the secular world as doors open for him and his calling.
The third level of ministry recognition is the whole body of Christ. To be released in this sphere, a trans-local fivefold minister must carry the affirmation of the overseers of the family of churches as well as other trans-local fivefold ministers in the body of Christ.
The network of church leaders realize that Mark (our example from the other day) has further matured. A leader outside the church family usually affirms this. Mark is now at a place where he has matured enough to be used throughout the church body, across “family” church lines. During this time Mark will probably develop his own ministry name and have a team around him – one that has developed a deep trust and respect for him, that love him, and supports him so that his ministry is fruitful. He may have developed, by this time, a group of advisors who can speak into his life and ministry. He should have also developed a group of people who are committed to praying for him, his family, and his ministry.
Accountability for the ministry goes back to the leadership team of the network of churches that commissioned him. Accountability for his family still resides within the local church of which he is a vital part. His sphere of ministry now extends to the body of Christ, and he carries within himself the character, authority, and signs that are recognized by the larger sphere, namely the Body of Christ at large, but he is still connected to the local church.
We must remember that the seed of these fivefold ministry gifts dwells in many of God’s people at the small group level. This is where we can begin to exercise our spiritual gifts and minister to
others. The small group if your church has cell groups (or the house church if you are in a house church network) is a safe environment for ministry. It is the place to learn how to use gifts and become better equipped in ministering to others. The small group or house church (and they are different things) is basic ministry training for all fivefold ministers.
Tomorrow we will begin to look at “The Goals of the Fivefold Minister.”