There exists a diversity of operations within the Body of Christ. This diversity can sometimes seem like a hindrance to unity. To create a sense of unity one might prefer to set boundaries and create rules that help people function together. Usually these rules help similar people to work together or at least those who agree to the boundaries and rules that are set out. Inherently there is nothing wrong with having boundaries and rules. They help us work together and protect the community. They become the guardians of the vision that is written on the wall. Without these boundaries and rules it would be difficult to accomplish the vision as we would not have a coherent platform to make our interactions easier.
Some people struggle to operate within the boundaries and rules that are set. It is not always because they are unwilling to comply, but their vision might different or broader. When our vision differs, we have multiple visions and we might end up with division. That can happen especially if we loose sight of the bigger picture that is beyond our sphere of influence.
When it comes to the Kingdom of God we can run into this problem when our vision of what God wants to do is too small. It seldom happens when our vision is too big. When our vision is too small, we might have to keep others away from the work since they are not building towards the exact vision. In the Kingdom this might signal that we need to expand our vision until it encompasses as much of God’s idea as possible.
Five-fold ministers are born. Either at physical birth or at rebirth. It may take years for them to grow to maturity. It is in this maturing process of the minister that they begin to sense the work that God has for them. They start to build a strong sense of what it is that God wants them to do. This helps them to focus on specific areas of ministry. They find certain ministry work enjoyable and productive and other work they find tedious and live-draining. This can burn in them a very strong sense of what God’s vision is for their lives and rightly so. God leads them first to uncover the gift that Christ have made them.
Now take this into the working together of the five-fold ministry and you can see how difficulties can arise. We might be presented with a problem and five different solutions for that problem. We might first ask the prophet and we would be encouraged that the answer lies in prayer and communion with God. The apostle might warrant that the solution lies in laying it down and going. The teacher might encourage the soul to read up on it or to understand it better. The pastor might prefer counselling and the evangelist might not see the issue as that important at all. So all five might have different perspectives on the same issue. I understand that it will be a little bit of each, but it might help us to see who the training of the five-fold gives us different perspectives of the same problem. Each gift also has different tools to their disposal and may gravitate towards those tools.
How can we bring the diversity of the five-fold under one roof and still keep the roof? Well the answer lies in a shared vision. But not any shared vision. A biblical mandate.
Before I reveal the mandate that covers all of the five-fold and should bring them into a position of a shared vision, I would like to ask some questions for reflection:
- Does your vision limit your members to a specific five-fold ministry?
- What usually happens to those who do not share your vision?
- Is your vision too small?
- Are there Christians that cannot fit into your church vision without great difficulty, because of who God has made them?
- What changes can be made to include a more diverse spectrum of Christians?
- Have you made a study of the inherent weaknesses and strengths of your main ministry focus?
- Have you studied the weaknesses and strengths of the other five-fold ministries?
- Have you asked other ministers what they see as strengths and weaknesses in the different five-fold ministries?
A shared mandate for the five-fold
To unite the work of the five-fold ministries, one must have a shared vision and a platform that helps them coordinate effectively. To accomplish this one must have a shared mandate. The shared mandate must be something that is given to all of the different ministers. Something that can bring all their different strengths into play. Where would one find such a mandate? Today many would like to place this mandate as the building of different local churches. In some sense this is true, but in another sense this is not the complete mandate.
Paul in his letter to the Ephesians describes such a mandate:
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (Ephesians 4:11-14)
Five-fold ministries must be defined from this perspective. It is only from this perspective that the prophet can see the task of teaching others to hear the voice of God. It is from this perspective that the prophet can counter demonic doctrines and it is from this perspective that all ministers need to cast their visions.
Let’s have a look at the different aspects that Paul touches on:
to equip the saints for the work of ministry; for building up the body of Christ
All five-fold ministers must include the equipping of the saints. This is where the ministers can work together.
until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ
Although the the type of equipping differs, the outcome is the attainment of the unity of the faith. We see here that we are expected to grow in the knowledge of the Son of God, and this is maturity, that we may experience the fullness of the measure of Christ.
so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
And here we see the final outcome. The culmination of a renewed mind – one that is steadfast in the knowledge of the Son of God. And this knowledge is nothing but the Gospel. The final and all-uniting truth of the Children of God. Surety of the finality of the work of the SOn of God.
The five-fold unites under the Gospel. Their work is first and foremost to convey the knowledge of the Son of God – each in their own way. Each using the gifts Christ has bestowed upon them to reveal the same Christ. Each so different that Christ can be revealed fully through their combined ministry. Although much can be said for the working together of the five-fold, what we know is that we need a fundamental shift in what the purpose of each of these gifts are. They have the same purpose. Their vision is clear. How can we adjust our ministries to bring about the ultimate vision of Christ for the Church?