|THE FIVE MINISTRY OFFICES
do with the leadership of the Church. We find this information in chapter 4 verse 11 where Paul the apostle lays out for us the five
ministry offices that comprise the Church’s leadership, namely the apostle, the prophet, the evangelist, the pastor, and the teacher.
The fact that five distinct ministry offices are listed here is sufficient evidence that Jesus intended for each of these to be operative in
the Church. Furthermore, He would not have named five offices if there were no distinction between them; therefore, we must conclude
that each is a vital part to the Church’s structure and to its operation. There is nothing in Scripture that would lead us to believe that any
of these no longer exists; indeed, each is a viable part of the Body of Christ and important. Each ministry office has a particular purpose
and each carries a unique anointing; therefore, each is needed by the Church for its ultimate success during the Church’s age on the
I will address each office in the order in which we find them in our text verse. This is not to imply that any one is of greater importance
or possesses some advantage over the others on the list.
A study of the twelve men whom Jesus called as His apostles, along with others who came later on such as Paul, reveals certain
aspects of this office. They tended to be the ones who broke ground for the Kingdom of God in geographic areas in which the gospel of
Jesus Christ had not been preached. In some cases others took the Good News to the lost and it was the task of the apostles to follow
them in order to establish the Church’s presence. The tasks of governing the Church fell upon their shoulders as well. And, they stood
as overseers on a broad scope, standing in authority over numerous churches and ministries.
The prophetic office is perhaps a little harder to describe. The various New Testament prophets seemed to operate with a measure of
individuality that defies description. The uniqueness of the office is the clarity with which they “see” into the spiritual realm. Their
operation in the gifts of the Spirit seems more refined and more highly visible than other Christians even more than other fivefold
ministers. This divinely installed ability of the prophet is to spiritually discern things which is one of the primary tools the Holy Spirit
uses to keep the Church on the track of Master Plan. The passion of the prophet is for spiritual things and often spends much time "in
the Spirit" seeing and hearing.
Evangelism, or the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is the heart of the evangelist. The other four offices are very concerned about
the Great Commission, as well; however, their passions lay elsewhere unlike the evangelist whose every waking minute is focused on
winning the lost to Jesus.
The pastor is the shepherd of the sheep in God’s fold. His primary concern is protecting the sheep and feeding them and seeing them
mature spiritually. Discipleship is the passion of the pastor. Usually it is the pastor who will lead the local church fellowship simply
because of his anointing and tendency to be tender and loving and patient in caring for the sheep.
The teacher possesses a unique ability to understand Scripture and to deliver it to the saints in an understandable and meaningful way.
The Word of God is his passion. Revelation truth seems to flow into him and out of him in power to benefit the saints. Usually it seems
that a Teacher will possess unique revelation on one or two subjects which are his "specialty."
It is important to understand that anyone who stands in any of the offices can operate to some extent in the functional aspects of all of
the offices. For example, the prophet longs to see people born again and is inclined to witness to the lost and lead people to Jesus;
however, he lacks the anointing that is specific to the evangelist and therefore will only be partially as effective as the evangelist in
soul-winning. The teacher or apostle can prophesy by the Holy Spirit, but the prophet will operate on a continual basis in the prophetic
gifts and with a higher level of accuracy than his counterparts. One of the common qualities of any elder is to be able to teach; however,
the teacher does so with a higher level of skill due to the particular anointing that is upon him which is given by Jesus. What we see in
this distribution of anointings by Jesus to the various ministry offices is His design to form the Church’s leadership into a team. Each
ministry office contributes its special gift to the overall work of the Kingdom. For the Church to be successful, it must have all five
offices fully operational.
The Church is just now coming back around to the truth that Jesus gave five ministry offices to His Church. For far too long we have
only recognized the pastor and the evangelist, especially within the evangelical ranks; but that is changing. Men of God with the will to
accept truth over the need to preserve a particular denominational perspective are rising in greater and greater numbers preaching
and teaching this doctrinal truth of the fivefold ministry. The Lord is pleased to see this happening.
It has been my observation over the past 30 years of ministry that most ministers operate in a primary office as well as operate to a
lesser degree in a subordinate office. My use of the words “primary” and “subordinate” are not biblical terms; they are intended only to
show that one office is dominant over the other. Paul describes himself as an apostle (primary office) and a teacher (subordinate office).
The obvious benefits to identifying your primary ministry office are, first of all, in increasing your effectiveness in ministry when you are
functioning in accordance with God’s calling on your life, and, secondly, in avoiding the frustration that accompanies being misplaced.
The benefit to the Body of Christ is that when her leaders are properly positioned and operational in their respective ministry offices,
the Church functions like a well-tuned machine and to its fullest capacity.
This brief essay cannot fully cover this truth of the fivefold ministry, but what it can do for you is to help lead you to the understanding
of where you fit in the Body of Christ. Your life and ministry will be far more fulfilling to you, not to mention far more fruitful to the glory
of Jesus, our Lord. It is important to remind ourselves that Jesus is the One who gives these five gifts to His Church.; none of us has
the right to choose the ministry office in which we will function.
It may be that you do not know what ministry office you are called to. If that is the case, do not be concerned. Be diligent to follow the
leading of the Spirit of God. As you seek this knowledge about your calling, the Lord will reveal it to you. Along with that knowledge, He
will also begin to refine your ministry to adapt to the specific anointing that is upon your life. The results will be wonderful!
One final admonition is in order. Let us not become title oriented as we move deeper into this truth. Let us refrain from making value
judgments of one ministry office over the others. Each office is equally valuable and each is to be equally respected.