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Understanding Functions of the Five-Fold Ministry? And... WARNINGS!
What's Real? What's NOT!
I once met a woman at a church that claimed to be an Apostle. She went on to say that as an Apostle, she was there to "clean the church". She would tell everyone that once the Holy Spirit revealed things to her, she was extremely blunt and would hold nothing back when confronting someone in the congregation regarding their wrong doing. This was the first flag for me because the Holy Spirit does not embarrass. (John 14:26 Holy Spirit our Comforter) She proceeded in bringing up people in front of the congregation and sharing personal things about married couples, called young ladies lesbians for being close to their mother, told someone she had the Jezebel spirit because of how she moved her head, and said she was never wrong when questioned by someone.
Since the congregation did not know better, they were fooled by this person. (Matthew 7:15) The congregation members were uncertain as to what an Apostle did and took her word that an Apostle was there to clean out the church and therefore everyone needed to be on their best behavior that day. Sounds crazy? It was but no one at the time recognized it.
It is so important to know what each part does to avoid manipulation and false prophesy to come into our lives and ruin our relationship with God!
First of all, let's look at the five-fold ministry parts. It would help to look at your hand so that you can visibly see their function and be able to better remember all parts. Ephesians 4:11-13 has been used a lot to explain the importance of the five-fold ministry. First it is important to understand what they do but also it is important to identify warning signs that something may be wrong.
- Apostles are the thumbs because this position touches all other parts of the five-fold ministry. A lot of people come into an argument over this because they say all positions come into contact with the other. True! But it is the Apostle that helps build and fortify those others in the remaining positions. If anything Apostles are edifying to the congregation because their whole purpose is to build the ministries so strong, he/she can leave the church knowing there will still remain a function amongst the church body. (Look at Acts 11 in Antioch)
- Prophets are the index finger; not because they are pointing out the blunders we commit often in ministry, but because they are meant to show the way (point) and are meant to encourage others through the prophetic word. No prophetic word that is truly given by God will ever tear down a person and make them feel worse than what they felt before hearing God's word. Individual prophesy is meant to give direction to the individual and encouragement! (Throughout Acts, especially 21, will give examples.)
- Evangelists are the middle finger because it is the tallest and reaches outside the hand (the church body) before any other member. Evangelists are in so many different places in the community that often you don't realize how many of them there are! They are our writers, artists, speakers, dancers, teachers, officers, politicians (I hope!), and so much more. They are integrated into the community, evangelizing to the people and bringing them into the church body long before the church body reaches these people. (Look at Philip in the New Testament.)
- Pastors are the ring finger because they are married to God in the agreement that they lead the church as a man would be the spiritual leader in his home. Ultimately whatever happens in that church, the pastor is responsible. Just as in the example at the beginning of this article, the pastor was responsible for what that woman was teaching! Jesus, himself, is the greatest example of what a pastor and his heart should look like.
- Teachers are the pinky finger not because they are the smallest. Try tying your pinky finger down and go around using your hand. You will recognize that you just can't do things as smoothly. Movement will be ragged and unfocused. A church's movement would be the same way if there were no older generations teaching the younger generations. Our youth are the key to a strong army for The Lord. Teachers reveal the tiniest, most interesting details of scripture; things you would not have noticed or understood otherwise. They are responsible for enhancing the love of God's Word in young minds...even older minds!
Great! The people in the ministry are in place but what if you notice certain things do not feel right and may not be operating as they should?
Prophets are meant to guide you...ONLY!
They are not meant to handicap you from ever hearing God for yourself. Prophets are not to be elevated. If you hear a person tell you, "I am the prophet" or "I hear from the Spirit" then something is not operating well within this person. 1 John 4:1 to test because the world has many false prophets. Prophet is not an exalted position. Man has made this position be exalted about all others. Anyone who tells you they know more about you than you do yourself, is operating under a false pretense.
Pastors are the heart of the church.
Yes they are allowed anger and imperfection but if they hold a very tight circle around them then they could find themselves operating under a false pretense. Having a tight circle of friends cuts the circulation in a church body. Imagine a tourniquet on an arm being prepped to draw blood from the vein. The blood does not flow down the arm or to the rest of the body. Eventually it would have to be severed from the rest of the body if it were to remain there. It is not a question of should there be close friends to a pastor but rather is there a spiritual maturity amongst the friends that will lead them to still be open and welcoming to the rest of the congregation. I once saw a pastor's wife sit in the back during sermons talking away to the worship leader and texting throughout the service. Close circle of friends getting in the way of the pastor's wife receiving and giving to the congregation. Some might say no harm but when the congregation is fixed on her talking and texting, then maybe you could even call it a stumbling block. Spiritual maturity.... she could not handle it.
Teachers are meant to also inspire creativity and curiosity. Think of the best teacher in school you have ever had. What made him or her be so great of a teacher?
If you have a teacher tell you no... it is as she/he says and there is no room for interpretation and analysis of one's own thoughts, then something is wrong. I recommend you sit in at a random time on your child's Sunday class. Ask the Spirit as you hear if all teachings are in accordance with The Lord. Pastors are the original teacher in a church. How the pastor teaches will also affect how other teachers will teach.
Apostles... are there to edify not tear down. A constant change or loss in ministry leaders and leadership overall will tell you there is a lack of order. We all know that God is a God of order. (1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace--as in all the congregations of the Lord's people.) Turmoil amongst leadership, even pastoral leadership, is a big indication that the Spirit is not being heard by the one who is supposed to be guiding placements in ministry and so forth. Don't let yourself be torn down by those who are functioning in the natural and in the single ministry of themselves!
Evangelists... If an an evangelist is an evangelist for the 2 hours set aside by the church to go evangelize, then something is wrong! A true evangelist is always, always in ministry! (2 Timothy 4:5 But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don't be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work for telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.) Where in the scripture does it give a time limit? Fully carrying out the ministry of God. Key words.
Ultimately, the Five-Fold Ministry Brings Restoration
The ministry when functioning right will train members, will train the next generation to continue doing God's work! Enough of egotism and the battle of who holds what title and who is higher than the other. In the end, God does not care about titles, but He will be watching your heart and the honor you give to Him! All glory to God, not the position in the five-fold ministry.