Is the Five-Fold Ministry a Biblical Concept.
Christ equips His Church for Body Ministry to be Good Stewards of His Manifold Grace. Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:10, As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
The phrase "five-fold ministry" is non-biblical. It is a term used to justify and perpetuate the Old Testament priestly order, which was done away with by the accomplishment of Christ in dying on the cross, yet has been transferred to the New Testament era overruling its discontinuation provided for by Christ! By continuing to follow this "should have been discontinued" way, which God said many times He would replace, we deny the effectiveness of Jesus' sacrifice. We deny the value of His shed blood by rejecting the New Covenant relationship that His blood purchased for us as His Body! This is done by denying the equality of every believer and God’s desire to gift them and place them in His Church as He desires.
This entire forced (and enforced) concept of five exclusive ministries comes from ignorance of biblical servant leadership. Peter describes us as a kingdom of priests. The imposition of the hierarchical pattern that allows the “spiritual elite” placed in position by man to lord over the others (Matthew 20:25-28) is a source of confusion in the church. We still cling to the clergy/laity distinction, which fits the Old Testament order that should have ended with Christ. This distinction produces a negative situation for both sides of the dichotomy. It gives the clergy all the duties of the ministry that have actually been given to the whole Church so, this means they cannot possibly fulfill those duties. It also gives the laity the completely wrong impression that they do not have a ministry to fulfill, at least not at the spiritual level. As a result, much of God's work simply does not get done. Many of the sheep are not found, or healed, or fed, or experience the Kingdom that is their inheritance, and the world does not see the reality of Christ. I wonder if that is not a reason why the institutional church has failed to carry out the mandate of God to make disciples of all nations! The “great commission” cannot be fulfilled within the four walls of a building or by what takes place in the building under the guise of church and the direction of the hierarchy. They have entirely missed what body ministry is as the Church that Jesus established.
The priesthood of the few gives some people a preeminence that usurps God's authority and steals His glory and provides very strong temptation that Satan can and has easily exploited. At the same time, it relieves people of their God-given talents and full membership in His body. It robs people of the blessings that come from working with God as He does His work through them, from being in His will and the blessings of spending more time with Him. Worst of all, it gets people looking in the wrong direction, to these supposed spiritual leaders, instead of to Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith. It totally undermines God's plan for His Church.
This elitist view of ministry has become something of a sacred cow to many because it gives a few a highly coveted, special identity. But this cow has yielded very little milk or meat. It has yet to produce the goods it promises. It has yet to bring the body to maturity, it has yet to fulfill the great commission. It fortifies "the perpetual babyhood of the believer." This false pattern never will produce mature fruit. It is filthy with pride and position seeking, and has caused more shame than glory. It promotes the work of the flesh, and not the fruit of the Spirit. As Jesus put it, "The flesh profits nothing." This man-made system has done more to retard the effective working of every part of His Body than anything else that has come against the church! We will see the kingdom of God here on earth only when every believer is allowed to move in their God-given gifting. We must see the gifts given to men by God as tools, not entitlements...as graces, not offices. (It is important to note that often in our modern Bible translations, as well as the KJV, we find the word office in association with these ministry gifts. In each case the word office was added by the translators and was not in the original.)
God has put apostles, pastors, teachers, prophets, and other kinds of leaders and ministries in the church, but they are put there to lead us into Christ, NOT TO TAKE HIS PLACE! So much is made of the five fold ministries that we forget their purpose and function and that they are temporary. Look more closely at what those verses say: they are given "to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built...until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." The structure of the “five-fold-ministry” in the church today is such that the unity of the faith will never be realized because of denominated denominations ensure segregation and the forever succession of the offices of leadership.
These ministries should bring us to Christ's maturity. God never intended us to remain babes and always be in need of these ministries any more than Jesus intended for a few men to rule over the church! Please note this: "until we ALL." This maturity, this unity in the faith and unity in the knowledge of the Son of God is for ALL, not just a few. It is part of our inheritance in Christ. It is part of the promise in the New Covenant. It is necessary for the proper functioning of the Royal Priesthood to which we are all called.
It is time for the Church to be the Church instead of doing church as a programmed weekend event...sorry...a one hour programmed-event-driven meeting on a weekend!