In Ephesians chapter four Paul talks about gifts that God gives to the church. There are only four places in the New Testament where this Greek word doma, translated as ‘gifts’ is used. In Matthew 7 and Luke 11 Jesus talks about fathers giving good presents to their children. In Philippians 4:17 Paul talks about monetary giving and aid for his traveling necessities. Basically, the word means a present, something given voluntarily without expecting payment in return to show favor or give help to another.
In Ephesians 4, this word is used in reference to Jesus giving the church individuals who would be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. There are those who think that this is an hierarchical listing of ministries. But Jesus never thought in terms of hierarchies. In Matthew chapter 20 Jesus admonished the Thunder Brothers, James and John, not to think in terms of authority, but to think in terms of serving others. And Paul spent a total of 13 years alone with God seeking personal and specific instructions from Jesus after Jesus stopped him on the road to Damascus. In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul listed the ministries as: Apostles, Prophets, Teachers and Workers of Miracles. These are two lists tweeked differently. And I trust that Paul knew what he was talking about. The question is, do we.
The spiritual word that God woke me up with this morning was that these lists were also not categories cleanly divided from each other. I kinda already knew that but the Holy Spirit was giving me an expanded view. These were areas of focus that would result in building up the body of Christ. They were also not restricted to one locale. Even those with a pastor’s heart and ministry can travel and minister to other churches effectively. Pastors are not limited to a specific physical place or group of people as much as we think they are. Some are, but not all.
Also, most often people with God’s callings on their lives are associated with more than one of these descriptions. Conversely, sometimes people need more than one shepherd’s influence or more than one teachers insights, and more than one prophet’s insights and encouragement, and more than one apostles admonitions for unity, and more than one miracle worker and healing ministry’s prayers and insights, and so forth. When we think of it that way, it just makes sense.
Thus, the ‘fivefold ministries’ are not limited to five AND they are not cleanly divided from one another in ministry. They are not divided from each other in focus but are often linked in different ways. Some individuals have ministries of prophetic teaching, or apostolic shepherding, or teaching evangelists, or teaching miracle workers, or, or, or. The list of possibilities is huge.
Those in these callings are not limited to specific physical locations but may travel. Traveling between churches and locations only makes sense because these people are God’s GIFTS to the whole body. The person is the gift, not the ministry. The ministry is God’s workings into the lives of the believer the things that God wants him or her to impart to the Body of Christ. And just a word of caution here. These people must grow into their callings with the associated manifestations of the Holy Spirit. They are not bombed with perfection. The Holy Spirit must work their callings into the person. It is a process just like sanctification.
This is why several of the New Testament writers admonished us to pray for our leaders, and to pray for everyone. After all, most people are not really aware of who God is raising up to minister to them. So, just to be on the safe side we pray for those we know are called, for those we don’t know, and then for all our fellow believers. But be specially attentive to support, honor, respect, assist and encourage those we know have a calling of any sort on their lives.
Individuals that Jesus calls, He equips. That equipping sometimes starts even before they accept Christ as their Savior. In other words, they may have a lifetime of experiences of learning in preparation for when they come into the rulership of God and Jesus tells them what He wants them to do. Jesus uses the very lives of these individuals. That is why they are themselves the gifts to the church.
Note: previously wrote on this subject here: http://tiro3.typepad.com/spoudazo_logos_blog/2014/02/the-fivefold-ministries-gods-gifted-people.html