DEFINING FIVE-FOLD MINISTRIES
By Apostle Richard Wright
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22)
For quite some time now I have been asking, “where are the true five-fold evangelists today? Where are the true pastors and teachers since we have been told that they were restored to the Church years ago?” Our contemporary understanding of the dispensations of the five-fold ministry offices has been:
• The 1950s: The office of evangelist was restored • The 1960s: The office of pastor was restored • The 1970s: The office of teacher was restored • The 1980s: The office of prophet was restored • The 1990s: The office of apostle was restored
The Church (those who believe that five-fold ministries are scriptural) appears to have a better understanding of the prophet and apostle than they do the other three. We have more definitions of apostle and prophet than all the others. This could be due to the fact that they have been around so long that we thought we had all the answers in defining the pastor, the teacher and the evangelist.
As more and more time goes by and as the apostolic ministry is becoming more clearly defined in the Church, it is becoming more evident that we need new definitions of the others. I offer the following thoughts on this matter:
Since we are told in Ephesians 2 that the foundations of God’s household are apostles and prophets, we can begin to see that there could not be a clear definition of evangelist, pastor and teacher until the apostles and prophets were fully restored. Many times we tend to say we believe something simply because we see it in scripture, but it takes more understanding of the ways of God than merely reading and implementing something in the Bible.
I have been around people who for years now have boldly stated that they believed that the five ministries of Ephesians 4:11 have been restored. After listening to them for some time, I began to look for the evidences of this, finding that it was just all talk and no practice. I now realize that was not their fault, but that it was before the time God had in mind.
1 Corinthians 12:28 says, “And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administration, various kinds of tongues.” I have always heard the explanation of this scripture as meaning “... the first shall be last, etc.” and Matthew 20:16 was quoted. If you will go back and reexamine Matthew 20:16, I believe that you will agree with me that this verse is not speaking of the full restoration of the five ministries of Ephesians 4:11.
I believe that what has happened is that there was an awareness of the evangelist in the 50s; an awareness of the pastor in the 60s; an awareness of the teacher in the 70s, etc. We cannot have a full reformation of the three that we have come to recognize so well until the two who must lay the foundation are fully restored. In other words, if the building has not had proper foundations, we must tear it down and rebuild (reformation) from the foundation up!
When the true definitions of the five-fold offices come, they will come from the governmental office of the apostle. These definitions will not come from the religion of man, nor from the mind of man, but from the very Spirit of God through revelation. These definitions will surprise many and many will reject them because of an unwillingness to change.
What will we do with the people that the evangelist brings in if there’s no one to father and mother them? What will the teachers have to build on if there have been no foundations laid first? How will the pastor keep his sheep stable and grounded if governmental authority has not yet been established?
All you have to do is look at the universal Church and see what I am speaking about. Read all the new publications that are being printed about the five-fold offices and ask yourself if God is a God of confusion. There must be fathers and mothers first before there can be the birthing of sons and daughters. We need all five ministries in the Church, but we need them functioning as Jesus ordained them to function. All five ministries must be apostolic in the governing of their anointings and in their presentation of the gospel of the Kingdom.
What a day it will be soon, when the five ministries given by Jesus to His Church will be walking together as the team they were designed to be...each functioning in their anointing and all working together to bring the saints into unity and maturity. A Church in all its glory is a Church that looks just like Jesus!