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5-fold and new things | Part One

June 16, 2010

Aidan: Recently I was at a church planter training, leading a session or two, and I was able to sneak into a few of the other sessions. Really good stuff. However, one of the other leaders was talking about 5-fold gifting from Ephesians 4 (Apostles, Teachers, Prophets, Evangelists and Pastors) and he was doing his best to persuade the room that Apostles were really the only ones that should be planting churches. I know the guy pretty well and unfortunately I wasn’t able to talk to him about it afterwards, but it sounds like he’s taken some of what Alan Hirsch has written on recovering the “Apostolic Genius” and is taking it to the extreme. Rather than giving space and credence to people with an Apostolic gifting, instead of exiling them, the extreme is that Apostles are the only ones to start new works of the church/Kingdom. I was wondering if you could talk about that some.

Mike: Right. It’s interesting to see  the 5-fold gifts from Ephesians really start to re- emerge in the past 10 years, probably most notably with writers/thinkers like Alan Hirsch and Mike Frost.

We like to think about it in terms of Phases and Bases.

Every person is born as one of these 5 kinds of people: Evangelist, Pastor, Teacher, Prophet, Apostle.

Whatever your Base is, you can’t help but do it. It’s in your blood.

So Apostles can’t help but start new things. Evangelists, whenever they find something that captivates their hearts, everyone hears about it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a movie, album or new restaurant. Their friends will be going to that movie with them, listening to that new album and eating at that restaurant with them…and quickly! Pastors are always helping people, always walking with people in difficult times, bringing them life.

They really don’t have to try that hard because it’s what they are born as. They just keep doing it.

Aidan: What about a Phase?

Mike: A Phase is when you learn to do one of the other Bases for a season, but eventually, the grace runs out and you naturally return to your Base. However, you return with the new lens of the Phase you’ve learned, making you a more complete leader.

So I’ve had Phases in the other 4 Bases even though I’m a Base-gifting Apostle. I’m always starting new things. But I had a season learning to be an Evangelist, Teacher, etc.

The astonishing thing is I think this is what Paul is referring to in verse 13 of Ephesians 4: “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

Obviously Jesus is the perfect representation of all 5 of these gifts, able to be all of them at once. Now I can never come close to the fullness exhibited in Christ with those 5, but Paul seems to be indicating that maturity is when we are able to do each of these gifts, even though we may be better at some than others.

So even though I’m apostolically gifted, I’ve had a Phase where I learned to be pretty competent as a Pastor. So though I don’t do that naturally, when a situation comes up that requires this kind of gift, I’m able to access it through the grace of the Spirit.

I actually think we are called to learn all of the 5-fold ministries, to spend seasons learning things that don’t come naturally to us. Because even though I’m not naturally prophetic, it’s the birthright of every child to hear the voice of their Heavenly Father, right? If I learn that, I will be a better Apostle.

Because an immature Apostle is one who cannot discern the difference between his gut instincts and the instincts given by the Spirit to start new things. Well that ability to discern is a prophetic one! You need to learn that Phase so you can step into maturity in your Base.

Aidan: So…what does that mean for people starting new things, be it a new church, new Missional Community, new Huddle, new business, new ministry…what does it mean for them if they aren’t a Base-gifting Apostle?

Mike: Yeah, that is where we were going with this, wasn’t?!

Why don’t we do this. Why don’t we  just do another post where we’ll dive into that. It’s actually quite fascinating when you start looking at how each of these different people would start things, each with their own DNA and unique lens.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. missionalandy permalink
    June 17, 2010 7:42 pm

    the interesting issue for me on the 5-fold ministry discussion is this, 2 appear to be more heavenly focussed, if i can use that phrase, and the other 3 are much more people focussed.
    so if you have an evangelist, a pastor, or a teacher leading something, then end up with something that is very people focussed, and almost people directed.
    whereas the apostle and the profit, are much more heavenly focussed, and maybe evens eeing things much moe from a heavenly perspective.
    I once heard someone suggest it like this, that if the evangelist, teacher or pastor are in the lead, or even all 3 as team leaders, all you may end up doing is reflecting culture back on itself, in a church manner, for they are people orientated. whereas the apostle or the profit are much more guided by the spirt and see thing sin a heavenly manner, and not so quite people directed.
    interesting discussion, me thinks that it is useful, helpful for a leadership team to be balanced, ie, need for all 5, but if only the people based ones are in existence, this can lead to porblems, but also on flip side, if only apostle or profit in existence, can also lead to problems.
    interested to see where this discussion leads.

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