When the disciples notified Jesus that the multitude that followed Him were hungry (as if He didn’t know), His reply to them was, you feed them. We are not only to grow spiritually but along with this, we are to feed others. If our spiritual diet is lacking or imbalanced, we will be greatly limited in our ability to fulfill the command of Jesus to feed His sheep (John 21:17).
The Lord has placed within His body five different ministries to promote our spiritual growth and development.
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians. 4:11-13).
All five of these ministries, working together in the right balance, are needed to build the members of the Body of Christ into healthy, mature Christians. The Apostle Paul never said: “God gave us the chairman of the council, committee members, the board of deacons, the choir director, and greeters at the door, for the perfecting of the saints. Rather, He gave to the entire body of Christ – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.
God has a method to produce spiritual growth. It is to serve a well-balanced diet to His precious body, the Church. Our spiritual nutritionists are these five ministries that have been set within the Church and are to function until each member of the body of Christ has been brought into full spiritual maturity.
The spiritual diet of each local church should include a balance of these ministries that the Lord has provided for His body. Can you identify these five ministries in your church? Probably not. Yet it is possible to partake of a “balanced diet” by being exposed to these five different ministries.
- Apostolic oversight and function that establishes the members of the body of Christ by “setting” individual members in divine order within the Body. (See 1 Corinthians 12:18- 20)
- Prophetic impartation that brings the individual members of the Body into the knowledge of their place and purpose within the Body. (See 1 Timothy 4:14; II Timothy 1:6)
- Evangelism that stirs the members of the Body to action concerning their place of function and ministry within the Body. (See Acts 6:8; Acts 8:26-39)
- Pastoral oversight that provides feeding, protection, and care, to strengthen and build up the Body. (See Acts 6:4; Ezekiel 34:1-31)
- Teaching that is anointed to establish the knowledge of the Word and purpose within the individual member. (See 1 Corinthians. 2:12-13; Philippians 3:10)
The local church that provides this kind of balanced spiritual meal will produce mature Christians with healthy spiritual appetites. Such hunger for the things of God will develop, that nothing less than a vital, sustaining relationship with Christ will satisfy.
The Church as a whole recognizes pastors and evangelists; but these ministries within themselves do not have the diversity of ministry gifts that will fulfill all the necessary functions of building up the body of Christ. All five ministry gifts are needed.
Most churches consider the office of teacher as one who serves on the Christian education staff, such as Sunday school. But the scriptural office of teacher is far more than this. In the early church, the teacher was given a special anointing to teach prophetically by inspiration and revelation.
The offices of apostle and prophet have also been set in the Church. Nowhere in the embodiment of Scripture is a termination of these two ministries recorded. Until these ministry offices are recognized and restored to the body of Christ, many believers will continue to suffer from an imbalanced diet. It should be noted however, that true apostolic ministry is not self-appointed. There are anointings for each of these five ministries that are spiritually discerned and recognized. This subject will be more fully dealt with in future articles.
The present-day Church is attempting to accomplish God’s work by using man-made methods and programs rather than seeking a full restoration of the divine order of ministry. But what are we to do if our local church body is not being exposed to several, or to all of these ministries?
First, pray that the Lord will move sovereignly in the midst of His body. Second, if you are a leader in a local church, make room for outside ministries to bring to the body those gifts that are lacking. This can be accomplished through evangelistic meetings, prophetic ministries, etc. Third, give Him permission to accomplish His will in your life, and in the life of your local place of worship; and then seek Him with the commitment of your entire being.
As you continue to feed upon the Word of God, He will lead you into green pastures where you will find a well-balanced diet.
(Article by Penny Smith previously Published in Online publication, The Christian Journal, April 2010)