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.
A month ago, I had a dream.
In that dream I was walking through the downtown, urban section of a city. I came across a storefront church. It was bustling with young, urban attenders that were very much of the hipster variety. Everything about this church had the buzz of “cool.”
After hanging around for a while with people I didn’t know, I found out that the person I was hanging with invited me to preach but I was totally unaware. The leader of this church had asked me to preach on servanthood, but he was wanting a message on servanthood so that he would have an easier time recruiting people to serve the ministries of this church. He had no interest in servanthood as a value in the Kingdom.
From the front of the building, we walked into the sanctuary with the pastor and his assistant. The sanctuary was actually a stadium-style ice rink. The pastor asked me to sit in the highest row, which is where he spoke from, but the worship of the meeting actually took place at the bottom of the stadium out on the ice. As the worship progressed, I began to realize that this church’s worship was a very detailed production/show and that everyone was dressed very formally. There was an orchestra, dancers and because an ice rink was central to this church, they even had ice skaters. Somehow I had ended up in dressed in a suit but had no shoes and was feeling very awkward about it.
Then suddenly towards the end of the “worship time” it became clear that the ice rink was melting. But it wasn’t just the ice in the rink at the center of the stadium that was melting, but the whole building. Unbeknownst to me the entire building was made of ice and was beginning to melt. The stadium seats, the floors, and even the walls were melting and cracking. It disrupted the whole service and we could not continue. I woke up with this phrase on my spirit: “The frozen church is melting.”
Interpretation: I believe that this is a warning to the church, particularly in the West. The church built on entertainment, cultural relativity, and business values will begin to come undone. This will be in large part due to “atmospheric change” that the church in the West will find itself in. I’m unclear about whether this will come from greater hostility toward the church from society in general or a greater intensity brought to bear on the church by the Lord Himself, resulting in more fervency in the body and a rejection of these values. But one thing is clear: a Christian organization built on man’s organizational values that feeds a consumer mentality in the body of Christ in order to further the success of one or two leaders will be a recipe for a “melting church.”
Hebrews 12:26-27: “At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.”
Application: The call then, based on all of this, is to repent. We need to repent of those areas where we’ve been working for our fulfillment and notoriety instead of the Lord’s glory and the advancement of the Gospel. We need to reject human leadership values and church structures based on marketing principles and not God’s word, even if you can vaguely construe Scripture to justify your approach. Go back and do the things you did at first when Jesus was your first love. Begin again to follow Jesus, listen to His voice, and look to Him and His word for how you and your church can begin to follow Him based on what He values.
Now: Do you see anything in the interpretation or application of the dream that I missed? If you do, please feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below.
Recently we’ve been discussing the power of understanding our position as sons and daughters of God. You can find the rest of the series “On Sonship” here.
Receiving True Sonship
I will not leave you as orphans;I will come to you. –John 14:16
The truth of the matter is it’s easy to write or talk about the orphan spirit. It’s a lot more difficult to instruct people on how to become legitimate sons and daughters. Part of the reason it’s so difficult is that there is no step by step process for receiving love from a father. Love gets communicated from a father (either God, our natural father, or our spiritual parents) in thousands of different ways, depending on who is giving love and who is receiving it.
But there are a few main ways that open the door for the Spirit of the Lord to produce the heart of a true son in us. My hope is to highlight six areas that open the door for sonship to be truly restored within us. If throughout this series you’ve found yourself lacking in the area of being a true son, then take one or two of these areas that strike you, go into your prayer closet and find out how God wants to lead you in this particular area.
If you’ve found yourself possessing an orphan spirit, you will want to do the following:
- Repent- First, you have to repent of your sins and believe in Jesus Christ as the only way to God. The Bible is clear about the fact that when you receive Jesus as your savior from sin, you become His adopted brother and gain the God of the entire universe as your Father.
- Experience- Second, like we already have said, you can be a Christian and live like an orphan. You can even call God your Father, but until you experience God caring for you like a son or daughter, you will live an orphan lifestyle. The next step of the journey will require you to experience God as your Father. This will make the idea of God as a Father a reality in your heart. I would encourage you to continue to ask yourself “How would a good dad treat his son in this situation.” Then begin to pray and ask the Father to show you His fathering love through providing, directing, and counseling you in that situation, just like a good dad would do.
- Repent, again- Some of us became orphans because we had no fathers. Others of us live like orphans because we chose to leave our father’s house. Sometimes the reason we live out of an orphan mentality is because we’ve rejected the love of a natural or spiritual father God sent to us. Paul talks about the necessity of honoring our father and mother because it was the first commandment with a curse. When God first dealt with me on this subject, it was after I had truly received some of the His fathering love. I began to realize that much of my hurt had not come from my natural dad, but from my teenage angst that caused me to interpret his natural, disciplined love as unfairness. Sometimes our attitudes, rebellion, and anger can cause us to miss mature love that comes from both natural and spiritual fathers. This may require us to actually apologize to natural and spiritual fathers and mothers that we have rebelled against in the past. If we repent in these situations, it opens the door for fathering love to touch our spirits.
- Read- Much of our understanding of fathers and sons has been lost because of societal rebellion against previous generations that has occurred since the ’60’s. Because of that, very few individuals will truly understand the dynamics of healthy fathering relationships. One source that I’ve discovered a truly helpful window into the nature of father/son/daughter relationships is the book of Proverbs. The whole book is set in the context of a father imparting wisdom from God to his son, and if read in that context will give great insight into what we can expect to receive from God, from natural parents, and from spiritual fathers and mothers. It will also fill in many “wisdom-gaps” that are left over from living as an orphan.
- Find a spiritual father- One of the most overlooked ways of overcoming an orphan spirit is to find a spiritual father. God has designed the planet so that no Christian should be without a spiritual parent. Look around your life. Most likely there are people around you who are pouring into your walk with the Lord. These are people who are a little further along than you are. They are who you turn to for advise, counsel, and prayer. It’s crucial, though, that you’re looking for a spiritual parent and not a spiritual superstar. The spiritual parents God sends your way may not be in full-time ministry or even well known. None of that is necessary for God to restore you into your identity as a son. Just pray and ask Him to show you or send you those who will father you in the Lord.
- Become a spiritual parent-I remember lamenting throughout much of my twenties about the lack of spiritual parents. But as I began to grow in my walk with Christ, I realized that I was being fathered by the Lord as I took on more of the responsibility of fathering others. You may ask, “How can I be a spiritual parent if I’ve never been fathered by anyone myself?” In the Kingdom, when you give something you get more of it. If you step into the role of a spiritual parent, God will give you more of whatever little you’re able to give away. We begin to understand God’s role in fathering as we partner with Him in that process. If you are thirty years old or older, I would highly consider doing this until the Lord sends someone that is clearly designed to be your spiritual father.
This whole process does not rest only on your shoulders. God will come to you and be a father to you. He is always searching for lost sons who have forgotten their position. Take these steps, use them as a map back home, and I guarantee you that before you can even get any words out of your mouth, a loving Father will embrace you sooner than you can possibly imagine. The journey from being orphan to being a legitimate son begins with a first step. Let that first step begin now.
Other Posts in the “On Sonship” Series:
Photo Credit: Father and Son Surf Lesson in Morro Bay, CA 11 of 12 by mikebaird
Christians can be born again and not walk as sons and daughters of God. An orphan spirit undermines much of our walk with the Lord. But an understanding of our positions as sons and daughters of God is an inheritance that we cannot overvalue. The following series of articles express the great need we have to step into our identity as sons of God.
Last week, I began a conversation on sonship that you can read here.
Before we go too far, I want to make sure I frame this conversation in the right perspective. Most of what I hear taught on sonship in the body of Christ focuses on us understanding our position as an object of affection. And I whole-heartedly agree that good dads love their kids. We must understand God as our loving Father.
But there is a whole other side of sonship that I think has been lost to our generation. Sonship also has a set of priviledges and a whole different set of responsibilities. So, yes, you are a beloved son of God the Father. And that means you get all of the love and affection you can handle (and probably more than you can handle, because, hey, it’s God’ we’re talking about). But you are also going to enter into a realm of priviledge and responsibility that very few understand, because our society is not very good at raising up sons.
This realm of thinking must be explored because we are at a very dangerous place as a society and a church. Young men and women who have never been well-fathered are beginning to assume leadership roles in business and society. Believers who have been told they are only the object of the father’s affection are quickly becoming spiritual parents, but know little of the responsibility that comes with the title. A whole generation of fatherless and poorly fathered individuals are being tasked with becoming fathers and we must shift our thinking before we begin leading with an orphan mindset.