One of the most misunderstood aspects of the church as God designed it is the place of the five-fold ministry. God has designed the body of Christ so that it builds itself up in love. An important part of that process is mature five-fold gifts functioning in and amongst the body of Christ in a mature way. But many have misunderstood the purpose and functions of different aspects of these gifts.
Because of the importance of these ministries, I’ve assembled some of the best posts on the five-fold ministry that I’ve found on various blogs. These are written by men and women with experience with people who have functioned in these gifts. These are my top five posts. Feel free to leave a link to your favorite post on this topic in the comment section.
Felicity gives us a great post to introduce us to the idea of the five-fold ministry and right off the bat she combats the major misconceptions about these gifts God gives the church. This is a short post but many people miss the profound implications that are found within it.
Len’s thoughts on a quote from An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land don’t directly mention the five-fold ministry. But he does touch on an interesting idea: The Kingdom of God is extended by Jesus as He gives these gifts to the church for the world. Read on to see more.
I love this post by Bob Roberts. Bob really brings a very balanced perspective to the whole issue of the five-fold ministry. I love that his insights are born out of his work in the non-Western world and I’m greatly encouraged on his emphasis on the whole church becoming apostolic, and not just one man.
Mike does a great job in this post of describing what a missional community will look like if it is lead by each of the five-fold ministries. While not entirely the same as a house church, I’ve noticed similar group dynamics in house churches led by each of these different ministry gifts. You may learn a few things about why you lead your house church the way you do from this post.
Last but not least, this post is extremely helpful because it identifies characteristics of immature people with five-fold giftings. Many times we reject five-fold minstries because of our negative experiences with the immature versions of five-fold ministries. This frank discussion about the downside of immature five-fold ministries will help those who have had negative experiences. It’s also really helpful to those maturing in these gifts because it highlights weaknesses they will need to address.
Photo Credit: This image is a product of five pictures representing each of the five-fold ministries.
Dave over at Searching God’s Heart asked me to guest post about the topic of Spirit-led Meetings. Have you been part of a Spirit-Led Gathering? How do you know? So many people have different ideas about what a Spirit-led gathering is that it’s hard to know. Here’s a paragraph from the post:
Joy floods the room as everyone begins to glorify God. Several brothers surround the man and begin to pray for him. Plans are made for a baptism the next day, which interferes very little with everyone’s plans because most had planned to assemble together the next day anyways. The gathering goes late into the night as others share about the greatness of Christ, the worth of following Him despite the cost, and the imminence of His return. You leave late into the evening encouraged by the supernatural work that has obviously taken place.
I’d like to encourage you to jump over to Searching God’s Heart and read the rest of the post. This is the first in a series of three posts. Join Dave, his readers, and myself as we discuss the importance of churches being corporately led by the Holy Spirit.
UPDATE: You can see all three parts of this series. I will update the links as they come out:
Have you ever met the guy who no matter how good things get, he always thinks they can be better? You know the guy…he’s the one on your team at work who after the project has been finished, still thinks it could be just a little bit better. Even if something’s perfect he can see the downside of the good thing. He’s the guy who’s never satisfied.
Well, that guy is me. And because that guy is me, sometimes I have to work to maintain an attitude of thankfulness and appreciation. This reality is especially important and necessary when it relates to my work with a group of people. To aid myself in that important work I submit to you, my loyal readers and to the larger interwebs, the first ten things that I love about my house church:
- My house church is generous. This is true on a corporate level as well as an individual level. Corporately almost all of our money goes to someone besides us. I’ve watched as those in our midst who steward our corporate finances have made tough, sacrificial choices about how our corporate money is spent. I’ve watched individuals in our family dig deep in their pockets for the sake of the nations, the lost, and one another. I think there is something in our sacrifice that is pleasing to God.
- My house church is discreet. This may strike you as odd, but I’ve been a part of other churches where it was okay to talk negatively about another brother or sister openly. We’ve never made a rule about not exposing each other, but somehow we’ve become a people who don’t. I had a mentor of mine who interacts with our church tell me the other day “Whenever someone from your house church talks about a problem they’re having, they are incredibly careful never to name the person they’re having a problem with.” I think our love for one another shows through in this.
- My house church hears the voice of Jesus. They really, really hear the voice of Jesus. I mean, really! I can’t tell you the number of times that someone has visited our church and has wound up weeping because Jesus is addressing the real issues of their heart through someone who is prophesying. Sometimes these people aren’t even believers! This is especially amazing to me because we didn’t have a ton of extremely prophetic people in our midst in the beginning. However that happened, it’s been because of Jesus and it’s been an organic transformation.
- My house church loves the Presence of Jesus. I’ve been a part of a lot of churches who love Jesus but hate it when He does miracles a way they don’t expect. My house church loves the presence of Jesus and isn’t offended when He does something that is outside of someone’s grid. I’m absolutely blessed that my church loves Jesus no matter how He comes to us.
- My house church isn’t bitter. I’ve met lots of people who are bitter at the institutional church. But the people who are part of our house church love the rest of the body. They attend events with other believers from other churches. They learn from the institutional church, they serve it, and they do it with a heart of gladness. And none of it (at least that I know of) is out of a desire to “convert” people to our house church. This may not seem like a big deal, but to do something different without becoming bitter is incredibly difficult in our age.
- My house church knows one another. Not much more needs to be said on this topic. We know each other. We know each other’s strengths and we know each other’s weaknesses. I’ve been in larger churches and house churches where people didn’t know each other, but somehow we’ve come to know each other and not forsake each other at the same time. This fact, as humble as it is, is still amazing to me.
- My house church is full of brothers who tell me truth about me. There is an incredible lack of truth-telling in the body of Christ currently, mostly because we lack courage and conviction. But because my house church knows me (see #6) and because they love me, the guys in my church have consistently and lovingly confronted me about issues in my own heart. They’re not always right about a topic when they confront me (but more often they are), but every time they tell me the truth, I know they love me and are sent by a Father who loves His children (Hebrews 12:5-11).
- My house church wrestles with difficult truths and their practical applications. There have been multiple times where I’ve seen our church wrestle with a difficult or controversial concept. Some of the concepts have been truth and some have been outright heresy. But in both cases, my spiritual family has dug into the Bible and wrestled with both the truth itself and the practical outworkings of believing the teaching in question. In every situation this has benefited and matured our church.
- My house church legitimately supports the life movement. But they do it in a way that is more than just lip service or a political agenda. They pray for the lives of unborn children. They reach into their pockets (see #1) and provide for children that are unwanted. One couple in our church is on the verge of our church’s first adoption and a second family in our church just got approved as a foster care couple. The folks in my house church are laying down their lives for the sake of children no one else wants and I believe they touch a part of God’s heart every time they do.
- My house church is serious about the Great Commission happening in the nations. Since the beginning we’ve always talked about how the Gospel has to go to the nations. Several years later six of us have gone as part of our church. That’s about half of our spiritual family. Other’s have given shamelessly to our cause (see #1), prayed for us while we were away, and listened to our stories when we returned. I would not be surprised if ten years down the road 75% of the people who are part of church currently have been to another nation and several of them are living in Africa, working to bring the Gospel to places it’s never been.
So, that’s my house church. I love them all as people, but these are some things I can say the Lord has done in us. Now, what about your house church? What are some of the things the Lord has done in your midst?
Photo Credit: Cedar Rapids House Church Network by Brandi Sawyer and Bryan Hamilton