A few years ago, I saw that some confusion began to develop regarding the role of the local church and also fivefold ministers when it came to the marketplace.
Fivefold ministers: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher (See Eph 4:11)
For years, the expectation was generally held that ministry was done by those in the pulpit and inside the church building. Then the understanding came that all are called to some form of ministry, while most are not called to pulpit ministry.
Whereas those who have entered into this revelation are finding much freedom and joy as the Lord works with and through them apart from the pulpit or even the church service, there is a common misconception about what quantifies spiritual ministry.
We now have CEO’s of corporations being called apostles! And schoolteachers are being called fivefold teachers, as though there were no difference. He may have a powerful God-given ability to lead or teach, but it’s not the same thing as ministry of the Gospel, which the Scriptures make clear.
What is Ministry?
The word “ministry” means “service”.
“And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.”
(Matt 8:14-15 KJV)
When Peter’s mother-in-law got up and ministered to them (in other translations: “waited on them”), she didn’t start a Bible study. She was hospitable to them and, no doubt, prepared something for them to eat. Jesus ministered spiritually to her, and she ministered physically to them.
She ministered (or served) them with her natural abilities in her desire to care for them. Scripture instruct us to serve one another in practical ways. (Gal 5:13) This is valid ministry, but does not replace ministry of the Word and the Spirit.
The Shift from Natural to Spiritual Ministry
Jesus spent thirty years in which he did the usual things a son, brother, tradesman, or member of the synagogue might do in Nazareth. However, notice what is written:
“When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age..” (Luke 3:23)
Jesus left his carpentry business in order to fulfill His ministry, which was the Word and the Spirit. In His meetings, He taught about the Kingdom of God, not how to build a table! Although skilled to be a carpenter, He was anointed for the ministry of preaching and demonstration of the power of God.(Luke 4:18-19)
Paul’s skill as a tent-maker provided an income stream for his needs, but he fulfilled his ministry by preaching the Gospel as his primary vocation. (Col 1:25)
The early apostles appointed seven deacons to minister/serve/administrate the food for the needy, while they focused on prayer and ministry of the Word. (Acts 6:4) Both types of service were needed, and the apostles understood serving tables was not their ministry assignment.
“But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.” (1 Cor 12:18)
Fivefold ministries are given by the Lord that we may fulfill our assignments from heaven through their equipping, instruction in spiritual growth, and ministry.
Jesus said believers are the salt and light of the earth, which means that our everyday lives are a witness and influence to those around us. Whatever your occupation may be, your workplace or business is one of the places where you can let your light shine for opportunities to minister the Gospel. While on a lunch break, you may have opportunity to share the Good News or pray for a co-worker’s need. This is the ministry of every believer.
You can extend yourself to minister spiritually with your gifts in a church or other ministry setting, as well as contributing time and finances to the work of building the Body of Christ.
As members of the Body of Christ, believers are all called to either fivefold or helps ministry. Helps ministry supports the Gospel ministry and is extremely varied.
Ministries have many practical needs, and many ministry leaders have their time robbed for lack of people offering help. While they are repairing church property, handling paperwork, and buying supplies, they are often the target of criticism and ridicule, overworked, financially stressed, and wounded. Record numbers are leaving public ministry. It is time for all of us to do our part in supporting the ministry of the Gospel.
What practical service can you offer to the work of ministry? You may have gifts that lend to intercession or providing financially for the needs of fivefold ministers. Or perhaps you decide to start mowing your pastor’s lawn or the responsibility for bulk mail. This is bearing others’ burdens just as the first deacons did in serving tables.
The gifts the Lord has given you are valuable and necessary. You are someone’s answer to prayer! Have you begun?
“…Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” (Col 4:17)