It’s not the threefold ministry, it’s the fivefold ministry
You hear about evangelists, pastors, teachers in the church, so what are the other two and why don’t most churches talk about them?
Firstly let’s look at the ministry / office of evangelists, pastors, teachers. I think by explaining these three important ministry areas of the church will help explain why the other two are ministry areas are needed.
Ok, so you all should know what an evangelist is, someone who just can’t help telling everyone they meet all about Jesus. They go anywhere without fear of rejection and with boldness seem to have an ability (gifting) to share the gospel of Jesus. The people they meet, seem to want to listen because something about the evangelist is just really likeable.
Pastors love to look after their flock or congregation, which is why they are referred to in the bible as shepherds. Pastors just love their congregation, they want every member to be part of their family and feel connected and safe. Pastors want you to know you are loved and part of their family and they will go to great lengths to make sure you stay connected.
Teachers have the ability to make the Bible come to life. They can teach the most random message and it is able to be relevant to everyone in the congregation. They love the Bible and make it their mission in life to get you to love the Bible as well.
So why isn’t it called the threefold ministry and not the fivefold? Who are the other two ministries? Well, I am glad you asked.
The two offices or ministries that a lot of churches tend to shy away from or don’t give space to operate would be the apostles and prophets.
Given that some of the old testament is either about or written by prophets and the new testament is either about or written by apostles, don’t you think it’s a little strange why we don’t tend to hear much about them in most churches these days?
Firstly, let’s unpack what a prophet is and is not. Prophets are usually called into ministry or office by another prophet. You can be prophetic and give accurate prophetic words (the gift of prophesy) and not be a prophet.
1 Corinthians 14:31 (NKJV) 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.
Prophets, on the other hand, are called to give direction not just to the church but to governments and nations. Also, now Jesus has dealt with sin, so justice has been dealt with and grace is now flowing freely, new testament prophets aren’t meant to call judgment down on people or nations. They can bring correction and direction but they are not meant to condemn or judge.
Secondly, let’s unpack what an apostle is and is not. Apostles again are usually called into the ministry or office by a prophet or another apostle. The apostle is a father to a fatherless world of orphans. Their main aim is for everyone to experience Heaven on earth, to have an encounter with Father God. Apostles want the saved and unsaved to experience the love and POWER of Jesus. Apostles want to teach people how to lead other people into an encounter with Father God.
If you read the first four books of the new testament, you will read all about the disciples encounters with Jesus and how after they with baptised with the Holy Spirit and tongues of fire rested on them that signs and wonders followed everything they did.
So back to my main statement, why do so many churches seem to avoid or exclude the prophets and apostles?
I would like to put to you the following. Firstly and mainly, if someone hasn’t been called to the office / ministry of an apostle or prophet but is acting like one, it can cause no end of trouble in the church, leaving the evangelists, pastors, teachers lots of messes to clean up. Also, you will notice that both in the old and new testament, the prophets and apostles where trained by other apostles and prophets before they were properly established. Some people would call these emerging prophets.
Secondly, if you look closely at all five offices / ministries, they all focus on different areas of the body of the church. You already have differences of opinions between evangelists, pastors, teachers on what is the most important element to focus on. Pastors want to keep the congregation in the church where they can be looked after, whereas evangelists want to get out on the streets so they can evangelise and evangelise and evangelise. Teachers, on the other hand, are focused on everyone falling in love with the Bible, studying the Bible and debating the bible.
So no wonder most churches don’t have any space for prophets and apostles. They are to busy trying to defend their own office / ministry.
To try and bring everything together and make sure you know I am not trying to down play any part of the fivefold office / ministry. Apostles and prophets are meant to be the very foundation that the evangelists, pastors, teachers operate from. If evangelists, pastors, teachers have divine direction and Godly insight on the direction they are meant to take in their city and the church is openly operating in signs and wonders where people can easily experience they’re loving Father first hand and not just be told about Him, it makes the job and role of the evangelists, pastors, teachers so much easier and more productive.
Having the full fivefold ministry of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers creates order and space for each ministry / office to operate in the church in a powerful way. After all its Father Gods idea and why it says in Revelation that the new Jerusalem that is lowered down from the clouds has its foundation laid with the names of the twelve apostles.
Revelation 21:14 (NKJV)
14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Side note, not all churches must have a prophet or apostle as part of their church. However, they should be associated with them directly or via the main church in the network.