When we think about the five-fold and what is involved, we often flip over to Ephesians 4 to read about the Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher. I’m sure we’ve all read it a thousand times. This is how God instructs us to build his house. I want you to now imagine you are building a house in the natural which requires you to use an architect, an electrician, a plumber, a carpenter and a painter. Only when you hire out the labor, you don’t hire one of each, you instead hire five plumbers. What sort of house would you have if you hired 5 plumbers to build your house? Worse yet, what if every house in your city was built like this? Would things function anywhere near the way they were supposed to?
I think we can all agree you would probably have an outstanding plumbing system, but the framework, design, electrical and paint on your house might not be up to the same quality standards as the plumbing system. This is what we have in the church today. We have 5 plumbers building the house. In most places in the Christian church today, we are building God’s house exclusively with pastors. The pastoral gift is wonderful. Some of the nicest people I know are pastors. But it’s only one-fifth of the five fold gifts and it was never intended to be the sole gift reflected in leadership. In fact, if everyone is a pastor, not just in title but in gifting as well, it will lead to an over-nurturing, over-parenting and control of the body of Christ. This is neither Godly or helpful to the leader or the body. Everyone needs to learn to walk out their own life with God themselves.
The goal of any Christian leader should be to see people walk in fullness and to become people of destiny, using their own gifting and call for God. But to do that, we must learn to trust that “our” people are saved as much as we think we are and often that is not the case. Maturity of the body will always be deferred unless a clear pathway and environment of trust and freedom exists enough to release people. It has been said that ministry is messy. Touché! With people involved, things won’t always be done properly and consequently, there tends to be too much control which suffocates people instead of mentors them, and this sterilizes the environment to such a degree, the Holy Spirit cannot do His work. To mentor we need relationship and without that we will never achieve maturity, much less foster a culture of release. We must find places for people to use their gifts under the supervision of Fathers.
The last time I checked, no one learned to drive a car by exclusively reading it in a book. The only way to really learn to be proficient with driving is to do it. Certain things can only be learned by experience and so it is with the things of God. Kris Vallotton says in his book, When Heaven Invades Earth, “When the body lacks an adequate influence of true five-fold teachers, biblical foundations give way to subjective experiences and feelings. When the teacher’s role is overemphasized, Christians will typically be over-informed and under-experienced.” This is what we have today in the body of Christ. We have an abundance of head knowledge and far less spiritual experience. “It takes five-fold offices – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip a fully functioning Body. Every baker knows that it doesn’t just take the right ingredients to make a great cookie; it takes the right amount (emphasis mine) of each ingredient. Good government empowers the entire five-fold ministry proportionally so there is the right amount of each ingredient (office) in the Body of Christ,” writes Vallotton.
Let’s apply this same line of thinking to the people of the Middle East. We can easily see the way many Muslims act is a direct byproduct of the leadership they live under. Kris Vallotton states, “The greatest challenge of replacing a dictatorship with democracy is teaching people who have lived in virtual slavery how to make healthy choices for themselves and by themselves.” That is good governance. It’s not just about what governing is, but learning to govern ourselves.
And so it comes full circle to us within the church. I know many of us don’t know where to begin with building this church that reflects the model God gave us in Ephesian 4, but do we care enough to even try? Are we so full of old manna that we are not hungry for new manna? Have our safe systems of church government and personal ministries replaced our willingness to test our faith or to live life on the edge with God? Well I’ve got news for you, God is waiting for us, not the other way around. Ephesians 4:11 reads:
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith…
The next dimensions of church is coming whether we’re ready for it or not. Some will join to it, some won’t. But make no mistake, it’s coming and the word “until” puts this all on us as for why it’s not here yet. “Until” we equip. “Until” we train. “Until” we release. “Until” we trust enough. And “until” we stop building the house with 5 plumbers and raise up the five-fold offices to their rightful place around the round table of leadership, there will be no fullness or unity in the faith.